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

Undergraduate Course: Methods and Controversies in Parapsychology (PSYL10149)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryAn 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.
Course description 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.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Psychology 2A (PSYL08011) AND Psychology 2B (PSYL08012) AND Research Methods and Statistics 2 (PSYL10126)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesDegree major in Psychology and passes in Psychology courses at least to the equivalent of Junior Honours level in Edinburgh.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  45
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Mid-course MCQ exam 30%; end of course essay 70%«br /»
«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 /»
Feedback 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
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Knowing parapsychology's terminology, recognising landmarks in parapsychology's history and reasons for the move towards laboratory-based research.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Understanding the models that have been proposed to account for the development of paranormal belief, and their limitations.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserProf Caroline Watt
Tel: (0131 6)50 3382
Course secretaryMs Alexandra MacAndrew
Tel: (0131 6)51 3733
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