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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 Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course aims to promote an appreciation of methodological issues in psychological research via case studies in parapsychology (the scientific study of paranormal beliefs and experiences).
Course description This course considers methods and controversies in 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, terminology, and research methods; meta-analytic reviews of research into hypothesised psychic abilities; psychological factors in paranormal belief and experience; techniques for simulating psychic abilities; replication issues; strategies for addressing questionable research practices; and experimenter fraud and error.

Each topic will be explored through studying a particular controversy in depth, including in-class discussions. The broader aim is to promote an understanding of methodological issues in psychological research, and how these may be addressed.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Psychology 2A (PSYL08011) AND Psychology 2B (PSYL08012)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting 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? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Mid-course MCQ test 30%; end of course essay 70%
Mid-course MCQ test (online, 40 questions, 5 answer options)
Essay (maximum length 2500 words). One answer from a choice of three topics to be set by the course organiser.

Feedback Each week questions will be posed to encourage the student to pause to reflect, to explore, develop, and consolidate their understanding of more complex concepts. Learn Discussion boards will be used to allow students to check their understanding with each other and with the course organiser.
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.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserProf Caroline Watt
Tel: (0131 6)50 3382
Course secretaryMs Stephanie Fong
Tel: (0131 6)51 3733
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