Undergraduate Course: From Perception to Cognition: A Journey in Colour (PSYL10166)
|School||School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This course will explore many ways in which humans and other species perceive and think about colour. Colour will serve as a sandbox to study how different psychological domains are inextricably linked and influence each other. Colour is perfect for this - on one hand, a uniquely visual phenomenon that arises from computations performed by sensory neurons, while on the other hand, a conceptual and cognitive domain high in social and emotional salience and influenced by language-derived concepts.
The following topics will be covered: (a) visual ecology of colour, presented through the lens of an "arms race" between predator vision and camouflage of prey; (b) evolution of colour vision, focusing on individual differences between humans; (c) colour preferences and their relation to biological adaptations and colour-emotion associations; (d) colour terms, through the prism of the universalist/relativist debate on how cognition may or may not shape our perception; (e) new discoveries in colour perception brought about by #thedress and similar illusions.
Colour science is multidisciplinary by nature - involving psychology, biology, engineering and arts. By examining several distinct topics in colour science, students will get an opportunity to experience multidisciplinarity in practice, seeing how different disciplines can work together to contribute to scientific knowledge. Through in-class discussions and written assessments, students will also have an opportunity to develop their critical analysis, writing and communication skills.
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||Visiting students should be studying Psychology as their degree major, and have completed at least 3 Psychology courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission.
**Please note that upper level Psychology courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces.** These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2021/22, 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)
||Essay (1000 words) 30%; Final Essay (2000 words) 70%
||Feedback from the mid-course assessment will be directly relevant to the final assessment.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Explain the recent scientific advances and challenges in several key areas of colour science
- Assess the evolutionary and psychological significance of colour
- Evaluate the long-standing debate between universalism vs. relativism, as an example of broader theoretical discourse in science
- Analyse the complex links between human perception and cognition
- Formulate the benefits of interdisciplinary research in science, as exemplified by the study of colour
Kernell, D. (2017). Colours and Colour Vision: An Introductory Survey. Cambridge University Press.
Palmer, S. E., & Schloss, K. B. (2010). An ecological valence theory of human color preference. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(19), 8877-8882. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0906172107
Christoph Witzel, Chris Racey, J. Kevin O'Regan; The most reasonable explanation of "the dress": Implicit assumptions about illumination. Journal of Vision 2017;17(2):1. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/17.2.1.
Martinovic, J., Paramei, G.V., MacInnes, W.J. (2020). Russian blues reveal the limits of language influencing colour discrimination. Cognition, 201, 104281.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||Through its interdisciplinary nature, linking different fields of enquiry on a common topic (colour), the course will nurture an inquisitive mindset and promote the acquisition of knowledge outside the narrow domain of psychology.
Students will develop confidence in research skills that cross disciplinary boundaries.
|Course organiser||Dr Jasna Martinovic
|Course secretary||Miss Chloe Anderson
Tel: (0131 6)50 9870