You will probably have heard the saying “an image is worth a 1000 words”. In the psychology context this means that it is good to represent ideas and  experimental data in visual form rather than in text or tables. Yet, to make good figures some basic computer skills are needed as well as knowledge of the software that can help transform the data from experiments into a nice graph or other visual representation.

In this course you will learn how to use the computer programs that are available to you to make a variety of visual data representations, learn how to use existing programs to manipulate images for experimental use or to create figures to illustrate other aspects of psychological research such as e.g. the procedure of an experiment. On top of all this you will learn how to use Word more effectively to for instance automatize the reference lists in your reports among many other more advanced uses of this program. This course also aims to improve your general understanding of how computers work and how files interact with the programs they are opened in and learn how to use the internet effectively to help find solutions in case you get stuck (in many cases other people will have run into the same problem before you and the solution is often at your fingertips). On top of all this you will take your first steps in computer coding. Where relevant the course will point to more advanced computer programs for those of you who would like to dive a little deeper.

Learning these skills will help you in your future coursework assignments during your Psychology degree. Having good computer skills will also boost your chances of employment after completing your degree as this is a desirable skill that many employers mention.

Some examples of computer programs that will be used in this course:
Excel, Word, GIMP, Inkscape....

Note that many of the course elements will have a visual aspect, but alternative options are available (e.g. processing audio files instead of images) if required.
The module is co-ordinated by Dr Rael Dawtry, to whom all enquires should be made.

The PS300 Research Project is an original piece of empirical psychological research assessed via a poster and a written report. The project provides an opportunity to apply, in an original piece of research, the statistical and the research methodology learned during the first two years of the psychology degree.

Please see PS300 the project outline for further guidelines, details, and deadlines.

Queries should be addressed to the Module Co-ordinator.

Aims: The aim of this module is to study a range of theory and research concerned with our thinking and behaviour in a social world. The Social Psychology module addresses core theories of social behaviour and social information processing. At the end of the module you should have a clear understanding of the topics social psychologists are interested in and their approach to their study. Each of the topics will be covered in sufficient depth for you to be able to appreciate classical social psychological theories and findings as the foundation of this empirical discipline.
A full outline will be provided at the first lecture.

The module is co-ordinated by Dr Gethin Hughes, to whom queries should be addressed.
This module will cover the neural basis of some of the fundamental aspects of human nature. These include how we understand faces and bodies of others and the role of mirror neurons in action understanding. We will also investigate the neural processes that allow us to control our voluntary actions. Finally, we will consider the functions of consciousness and the generation of the sense of agency and the sense of self. We will consider these phenomena both when functioning normally, as well as how their dysfunction can contribute to various symptoms in disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. An important aspect of the course will be to help develop critical insight into how modern neuroscientific techniques can be used to inform questions about the nature of human mind and behaviour.
Module Description:

Sexuality is a fundamental function of human nature. This course will focus on the science of sex and highlight several important areas. We will examine how our sexuality is shaped by nature and nurture. We will investigate why and how men and women differ in their sexuality. We will discuss how homosexuality can exist and we will explore less understood sexual desires. We will discuss the mechanisms behind sexual arousal and sexual dysfunctions. We will examine the causes and consequences of both sexual assault and harassment. Finally, we will discuss the prevalence and consequences of sexually transmitted diseases. 

 It is possible that some of you will be uncomfortable with certain topics (for example sexual assault or harassment). In general, however, the possibility that you will be uncomfortable is low. Students who participate in surveys on trauma and sexuality do not find their involvement in these surveys more distressing than regular life events, and can find it emotionally rewarding to take part in these surveys (Yeater et al., 2012). This module will not go as far as asking you about your traumatic experiences, but rather inform you about findings related to this topic. From my experiences with hundreds of students in the past it is unlikely that students will be uncomfortable with being part of this module and consider it beneficial. However, in order to avoid discomfort I suggest the following:  

Read the below Syllabus very carefully (chapters refer to the suggested reading below). If there is a topic that you consider too uncomfortable to hear about I encourage you to NOT take the module.

16/10/20 The Evolution of Sex (Chapters 1 & 2)

I will explain why two sexes have evolved in most species and why, from an evolutionary point of view, this has been more successful than one sex as it leads to recombination and variation of genetic material. I will also discuss which strategies are, evolutionary, the best for mating and reproduction.

23/10/20         Sexual Differentiation (Chapters 6 & 7)

Most males and females clearly differ in their gender identity, gender behaviours and sexual attractions. I will outline how biological factors, in particular androgens, affect these differences and whether influences of nature are more important than influences of nurture.

30/10/20 Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (Chapter 14)

We will discuss how homosexuality is expressed, how early signs of homosexuality may develop, and what the possible biological correlates, if not causes, are. We will further discuss how the desire to transition one’s biological sex to the other gender relates to sexual orientation.

06/11/20        Atypical Sexuality (Chapter 15)

Some people have less commonly understood preferences, for example fetishes, masochism, sadism, paedophilia, and the self. We will discuss whether such preferences are comparable with a sexual orientation towards adults, and to what degree they are indeed motivated by sexual desires.

13/11/20        Sexual Harassment (Chapters 18 & 13)

Amongst the most problematic sexual behaviours are sexual assault and harassment. We will discuss their prevalence, who is most likely a victim or perpetrator, to what degree social attitudes influence the perception of these behaviours, and how they affect the psychological well-being of the people involved.

20/11/20        MCQ I (First Hour) & Sex and Culture (No Specific Chapter)

Cultures can differ in the ways that they express their sexuality. We will discuss to what degree these differences suggest that any sexual behaviours found in our society are socially induced or whether these cultural differences are indicators of different evolutionary adaptations.

27/11/20       Attraction and Attractiveness (Chapter 8)

To be a successful sex partner, you must, in most instances, attract a person. This lecture will explore the different biological, physical, and psychological ingredients that make us, and our potential partners, more or less attractive, and point to where societies differ in these preferences.

04/12/20      Sexual Arousal and Dysfunctions (Chapters 3, 4, & 16) 

Our sex drive and sexual orientation have, on a physiological level, the purpose to enhance sexual arousal and prepare for reproduction. We will discuss the ultimate functions of sexual arousal, particular body regions important for arousal, and the many ways in which arousal can be interrupted or enhanced.

11/12/20      Sexually Transmitted Diseases (Chapter 17)

When humans seek physical contact for sex, other organisms exploit the opportunity to spread their own genetic make-up. We will discuss several sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, and point to their prevalence and mechanisms for preventions and cures.

18/12/20      MCQ II (First Hour) & Special Topics

This lecture will wrap up with a special topic. Likely I will bring in trans men (female to male). They will discuss with class how it is to be transgender, and live with someone who is transgender. The discussion will be accompanied by a documentary on trans men made for Channel 4.

Transit maps, showing public transport in urban areas, are important components of navigating a complex city network of buses, trains, trams, etc. Often, such maps are schematized, in other words, they are configured as abstract diagrams with topographical distortion, only showing individual routes and their intersections with few, if any, surface features (such as the famous London Underground map originated by Henry Beck in 1933). The intention is that these will be easier to use for journey planning than detailed topographical maps, but their creation and use is not trivial psychologically, and history is littered with numerous schematic maps that have failed for design or political reasons. This, coupled with their ubiquity, makes them a legitimate target for further study.
The aim of this module is to take a multidisciplinary approach to understanding transit maps, in particular, schematic maps, looking at the history and context in which they developed, the design techniques used, the psychological principles that underpin their usability, and the various methods that can be used to assess their effectiveness, both objective and subjective. As a result of taking this module, students will gain an understanding of how such maps assist the user, and how they should be designed and evaluated. The emphasis throughout will be on the concept of evidence-based design, with the intention that students will acquire transferable skills relevant to graphic design, information design, and human factors research, along with an awareness of how psychological concepts can inform design and usability issues.
This is also intended to be a practical hands-on module, with students encouraged to engage with the subject matter and develop their own critical skills. Students will also create and evaluate designs for assessment purposes and, therefore, will be taught basic experimental and graphic design techniques.
In February 2015, much of the world's population became captivated by a badly taken photograph of a dress, which soon became known as #TheDress. Some people were convinced that the pictured dress was blue and black, while others were equally convinced it was white and gold. This episode fascinated people because it showed that our perception can differ dramatically from the objective "truth". There are many other amazing visual illusions, and the purpose of this module is to make students aware of these illusions, and help them to understand how the illusions occur. Each lecture will take a particular type of visual illusion and discuss the possible explanations for it. Along the way, students will learn about how the eye and brain process visual information.


This module aims to give students an understanding of many of the most important visual illusions known to vision science. The module aims to entertain students with some amazing illusions, and educate them by explaining the brain processes that cause them. There is also a wider aim: the furore over #TheDress showed that there is tremendous popular interest in visual illusions, and a great popular demand for clear and concise explanations of them. This module aims to provide the students with clear and concise explanations of visual illusions so that they can satisfy their own curiosity, and provide explanations to friends and relatives who may be equally interested in these phenomena.
This module builds on the 2nd year module Developmental Psychology in order to provide a greater understanding of the relation between brain development and the development of skills in infants and children, and will provide insights into applied developmental psychology. The topics range from typical and atypical development to how neuroscience can inform educational practices, and may include: prenatal brain development, the development of the sense of self and self control, infant and children attachment and social skills, neurodevelopmental disorders and applied neuroscience.

The aim of this module is to provide final year undergraduate students with a deep understanding of the connections between brain development and child behaviour and skills, and how neuroscience can inform educational practices
These are only some of the questions we will address: Can you modify your perception with a simple self-talk while focusing on your breathing pattern? To what extent your everyday behaviour is influenced by adverts and marketing messages? How easy is to implant a false memory? How powerful is the effect of an inert drug when we believe it does have a healing action?

This module will offer a broad overview of the most well-known psychological and neurophysiological phenomena linked to the famous adagio "believing is seeing". For instance, it will discuss perceptual illusions and stereotypes, or hypnotic suggestion and superstition. Findings will span from perception and memory to cognition and emotion. The module will introduce both psychological and neurological evidence, thus grounding even the most complex belief within cutting-edge research in social and cognitive psychology as well as social and cognitive neuroscience. The interdisciplinary approach will allow you to have insights into how beliefs and suggestions shape our biology.

There is no textbook; you will be expected to read several journal articles that report empirical research and theoretical discussion in the field. You will be asked to reflect on and critically assess the science of belief and suggestion. You will be expected to take participate in learning activities in workshop- and seminar-based sessions.
In addition, you will be welcome to meet teaching staff in one-to-one sessions to further discuss the literature and plan extra-reading.


Researchers have long known that prior knowledge in the form of expectations and beliefs influences cognitions and behaviours. The aim of this module is to give a general understanding of how humans are influenced or self-influence their perception, memory, reasoning, and behaviour on the basis of their prior knowledge and information they are provided with. Being a very general and complex topic the module will harness the discussion on specific areas of enquiry as to provide the student with the best examples of psychological and neurological processes associated with suggestions and beliefs.

The focus will be on those phenomena that have robust empirical evidence and that have daily-life relevance and impact on our society.
Thus the ultimate goal of this module is to increase students' awareness and understanding of how suggestions and beliefs affect us and encourage critical thinking on empirical research as well as extending reflection on their personal life
The use of Bayesian statistics is increasingly common in psychology. This course aims to give a broad introduction to these tools, and how to use R (a popular, open source statistical software package) to analyse and visualise data. It will also give you an overview of how the human brain deals with uncertainty and probabilities, and how the media often misrepresents statistical issues. Throughout the course, you will gain familiarity with working with large datasets, identifying patterns and presenting data. These skills are useful not only for further postgraduate study, but also are increasingly valuable in graduate jobs outside academia.


Students who take this module will learn how Bayesian methods allow us to characterise uncertainty, both in empirical data and our beliefs and perception about the world.
Romantic relationships are a fundamental part of the human experience. This course will take a scientific approach to understanding relationships. We will examine how relationships form, what binds them together, and what might lead to their dissolution. We will discuss how much of “me” we bring into our relationships compared to how much relationships change our sense of self. Finally, we will discuss what makes relationships such an important area of study: how they impact and influence our lives.

The aim of this module is to provide an in-depth overview of relationship science. The emphasis is to explain and interpret systematic research which means discussing findings that may not necessarily reflect views that people have about relationships based on past experience. Thus, the goal of this module is to enhance critical thinking about this important part of human psychology, and to give students the opportunity to express their own insights into this topic.
Should you save for the future or live life in the moment? Should you travel the world or settle in a secure job? The decisions we make shape our lives. While people have an amazing ability to make good decisions, and to do so quickly and intuitively often on gut feeling, they are also prey to cognitive biases and limits to mental capacity that cause them to make the wrong decisions. Are you an intuitive decision-maker who relies on “gut feeling” or do you think critically and carefully about every decision you make? This module will reveal how the human mind is capable of both good and bad judgements and decisions and will explore who makes the best decisions and how decisions making can be improved.


The module aims to develop in students an understanding of the psychological processes underpinning human judgement and decision-making. Students will also develop a strong command of the ways in which insights into how people decide can be leveraged and applied to improve the decisions people make in their own lives and for tackling some of the major current challenges faced by society such as climate change or antimicrobial resistance.

Learning Outcomes

1. Develop a good command of the major theories and models of judgement, decision-making, and reasoning.
2. Critically analyse the empirical research on judgement and decision-making quality (e.g., biases, heuristics).
3. Acquire the ability to leverage basic behavioural science theories to alleviate current societal challenges in a range of context (environmental, medical, and social).

The aim of this module is to study a range of social psychology theory and research. The module addresses core theories of social behaviour and social information processing. At the end of the module you should have a clear understanding of the topics social psychologists are interested in and their approach to their study. Each of the topics (see below) will be covered in sufficient depth for you to be able to appreciate classical social psychological theories and findings as the foundation of this empirical discipline.


At the end of the module, students should be able to:
Demonstrate knowledge of the major theories and principal areas of research in social psychology.

Demonstrate knowledge of major empirical tests of the theories in social psychology

Understand how theory and research in social psychology might explain current issues in society

A full outline will be provided at the first lecture.

Research in cognitive neuroscience and cognitive neuropsychology employs a diverse range of analytical tools and procedures. This module provides specialist Masters students with the training necessary to critically evaluate the analyses presented in published research. Additionally, students will be trained to apply numerical techniques to neuropsychological and psychophysiological data and to interpret the output of popular analysis software.

To teach students:
- the rationale and methodology of single case studies in cognitive neuropsychological research.
- the advantages of a case series approach over a single case approach.
- statistical techniques that can be used to analyze data from single case studies and that can compare data from single cases with data from a group of controls.
To give students:
- conceptual knowledge about the maths that supports the analyses found within published papers in cognitive neuroscience.
- the skills necessary to use analysis software for fMRI (SPM) and EEG (EEGLAB) analysis.

Learning Outcomes
At the end of this module students will be able to:
(a) Demonstrate understanding of the philosophical and statistical underpinning of a variety of analytical techniques.
(b) carry out and interpret statistical analyses of data generated by cognitive neuropsychological research.
(c) Write research reports for single case studies within cognitive neuropsychology.
(d) interpret the output of world-leading advanced software tools used in fMRI research.
(e) use commonly available software to analyse psychophysiological datasets to localise sources of EEG data.
This module covers the main research areas and methods used in investigating the workings of the brain. The module will provide a good background in brain structure and function both at the cellular level and the systems level. The course will consider neuroscience as it relates to behaviour by asking how mental processes such as perception, attention, movement, emotion, higher cognitive functions and sexual orientation are implemented within the brain and body.

The module also seeks to familiarise students with most of the present-day methods used in Cognitive Neuroscience and to provide practical experience of some of these methodologies: EEG, ERPs, TMS, tDCS, eye-tracking, pupilometry, NIRS and other psychophysiological measures (skin conductance, heart rate, respiration rate, plethysmography etc.) and their combination.


1) Provide an overview of main research areas of neuroscience
2) Provide an overview of both the systems and cellular levels for understanding the nature of brain function
3) Provide a significant body of knowledge about how the function of the brain relates to behaviour
4) Introduce methods in cognitive neuroscience and provide practical experience of using several of these methods
5) Demonstrate how to critical evaluate significant findings in neuroscience
6) Introduce how to construct a project proposal

Learning Outcomes

Students will develop a deep understanding of the way Cognitive Neuroscience and its allied fields enable our understanding of how the brain and body interact to control behaviour and be able to critically evaluate the evidence. At the end of the module students should be able to:
1) Understand how various psychophysiological and neuroscientific tools are used to link brain activity with behaviour
2) Have a practical knowledge of those methods currently employed at Essex
3) Understand the functional significance of numerous brain processes
4) Be able to plan and propose new research projects in this field
5) Be able to summarise scientific findings for a non-academic audience
6) Have a deeper knowledge of the field relevant to future careers in Cognitive Neuroscience

This module investigates ways in which our ability to read and spell words, and to recognize and name objects and faces, can break down as a consequence of brain injury (stroke, closed head injury, dementia, etc.). The emphasis will be on the functional nature of the cognitive impairments.


* To examine a variety of different types of impairment to the cognitive processes involved in processing words, objects and faces from a functional perspective.
* To investigate the contrasts between different types of neuropsychological disorder.
* To explain the impairments in terms of models of cognitive processing.

Learning Outcomes
Students should be able to:
1. Describe a broad range of impairments to the processes involved in reading and spelling words.
2. Describe a broad range of impairments to the processes involved in recognizing and naming objects, and identifying and naming faces.
3. Compare and contrast different forms of neuropsychological disorder.
4. Discuss interpretations of these disorders in terms of current models of cognitive processing.