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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Positive Psychology Strengths Lecture
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
* 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.
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.