Undergraduate Course: Methods and Controversies in Parapsychology (PSYL10149)
|School||School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||An introduction to the study of claimed anomalous experiences and paranormal beliefs through case studies of controversies in the field, and a consideration of the wider scientific and methodological relevance of this work.
This course provides an introduction to the scientific study of paranormal beliefs and experiences, known as parapsychology. No previous knowledge of parapsychology is assumed, though some familiarity with statistics and scientific methodology is expected.
Topics that will be covered in the course include: Parapsychology's history and terminology; Experimental research methods; Meta-analytic reviews of research into hypothesised Extrasensory Perception, Psychokinesis, and Direct mental interaction with living systems; Replication issues; Experimenter fraud and error; Psychological factors in paranormal belief and experience; Pseudo-psi; Parapsychology's contribution to science.
Each topic will be explored through studying a particular controversy in depth, including in-class discussions. The wider scientific and methodological implications arising from these controversies will be considered.
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||Degree major in Psychology and passes in Psychology courses at least to the equivalent of Junior Honours level in Edinburgh.
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 20,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Mid-course MCQ exam 30%; end of course essay 70%«br /»
Mid-course timed MCQs (40, 5 answer options)«br /»
Essay (maximum length 3000 words). One answer from a choice of three topics to be set by the course organiser.«br /»
||Weekly in-class discussions enable students to explore, develop, and consolidate their understanding of more complex concepts and check this with each other and with the course organiser. These discussions are termed 'pause for reflection'. There will be approximately three 'pauses' during each class, with the discussion being focused on the material just presented by the instructor, with the help of a reflection question posed by the instructor. This also helps to vary the texture of the class and keep students engaged and alert.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Knowing parapsychology's terminology, recognising landmarks in parapsychology's history and reasons for the move towards laboratory-based research.
- Understanding the strategies used by pseudo-psychics to simulate psychic abilities, recognising the psychological factors that underpin many of these, and thinking critically about how to test paranormal claims.
- Knowing and understanding the principal methods employed for controlled laboratory testing of claims of anomalous information transfer or influence ('psi'), being able to identify the key meta-analytic reviews of this research, and understanding how and why these findings are debated.
- Appreciating the methodological challenges involved in controlled tests of hypothesised anomalous communication or influence, recognising how these challenges often also apply to psychological research, and understanding ways to address these challenges.
- Understanding the models that have been proposed to account for the development of paranormal belief, and their limitations.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Prof Caroline Watt
Tel: (0131 6)50 3382
|Course secretary||Ms Alexandra MacAndrew
Tel: (0131 6)51 3733