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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Psychology

Undergraduate Course: Consciousness and Perceptual Awareness (PSYL10099)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe sense of being conscious - both of ourselves and of the world around us - is a central aspect of our psychological makeup. It is well established, however, that a great deal of perceptual processing can be accomplished without awareness. This raises several questions that have been the focus of intense research in recent years:
- What neural activity distinguishes conscious and non-conscious perceptual processes?
- What factors determine whether a percept will reach awareness or not?
- How does consciousness interact with faculties such as attention and memory?
- What sorts of neural activity determine states of consciousness (wakefulness, sleep, coma, vegetative state)?

Course description In this course we will discuss new findings on the above questions, and the theoretical debates they have triggered regarding the nature of consciousness. We will also delve into the fierce ongoing arguments on methodological issues regarding the best ways to rigorously assess people's subjective experience.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Research Methods and Statistics 2 (PSYL10126)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesStatistics and Methodology (Year 2 level or equivalent)
At least one course on Perception
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  50
Course Start Block 3 (Sem 2)
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 98 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1. Group presentation assignment (20%): Students will work in groups of 3-4, and prepare a 10-minute presentation on a published study to be given in class.

2. Poster (80%): Each student will prepare a poster containing a research proposal. The poster will consist of appropriate background, drawn from the course material, leading to an open question, and followed by an experimental design that would address this question.
This assessment will consist of two parts:
(A) The poster will be uploaded to Learn and marked anonymously (60% of poster mark, i.e., 48% of final mark)
(B) Students will give a 5-minute presentation of their poster in a class poster session (40% of poster mark, i.e., 32% of final mark).

Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Familiarity with a range of phenomena used to investigate consciousness and awareness.
  2. An understanding of the methodological difficulties involved in designing experiments to investigate subjective experience.
  3. An ability to distinguish and interpret studies employing objective and subjective measures of awareness.
  4. Knowledge of current theories of consciousness and its neural correlates.
Reading List
Kentridge, R.W., Heywood, C.A., & Weiskrantz, L. (1999). Attention without awareness in blindsight. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 266, 1805-1811.
Hannula, D.E., Simons, D.J., & Cohen, N.J. (2005). Imaging implicit perception: promise and pitfalls. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 6, 247-255.
Laureys, S. (2007). Eyes open, brain shut. Scientific American, May 2007.
Lavie, N. (2006). The role of perceptual load in visual awareness. Brain Research 1080, 91-100.
Sandberg, K., et al. (2010). Measuring consciousness: is one measure better than the other? Consciousness and Cognition 19, 1067-1078.
Soto, D., Mantyla, & Silvanto, J. (2011). Working memory without consciousness. Current Biology 21, R912-913.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr David Podhortzer Carmel
Tel: (0131 6)50 3455
Course secretaryMs Catherine Renton
Tel: (0131 6)50 3602
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