PSYCH 740 : Sensory Science


2020 Semester Two (1205) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

A range of approaches commonly used to study the sensory-perceptual properties of stimuli will be explored. Focus will be on sensory capacity and emotional response to stimuli. Methods and applications appropriate for use in psychology (e.g., psychophysics, diagnostics, memory, or decision processes) as well as in industry (e.g., product liking, satisfaction, and consumer preference).

Course Overview

Methods commonly used to measure sensory capacity will be explored, with an emphasis on the difference between methods commonly used by practitioners and scientists and how these methods can be improved. Appropriate methods for use in psychological science (including psychophysics and sensory neuroscience) as well as in industry (product development and consumer testing) will be covered. The application of these methods to the improvement of diagnostic systems and organisational process control may also be covered. The skills developed in this course are particularly useful for those wishing to develop their research and analysis capabilities, either for advanced postgraduate study or application in the workforce.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Describe Signal Detection Theory (SDT), as it applies to the single-interval task, and demonstrate how the theory is applied to assess the performance of the sensory-perceptual system. (Capability 1 and 2)
  2. Analyse data generated using SDT research methods with the assistance of specialised software (Capability 1, 3 and 5)
  3. Be able to plot Signal Detection Theory data in the form of Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curves and the decision space that underlies the ROC curve. (Capability 1)
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of a seminar topic in the course by presenting a cohesive lesson on the material to the class and by completing a more in-depth essay on the topic (Capability 1, 2, 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Essay 20% Individual Coursework
Presentation 10% Individual Coursework
Project 20% Group Coursework
Final Exam 50% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4
Final Exam

Key Topics

Signal Detection Theory
Cross-modal perception
Threshold estimation

Learning Resources

Readings available online.

Special Requirements


Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15-point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 25 hours of in-class time, 50 hours of reading and thinking about the content, and 75 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page:

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 09/08/2020 12:05 p.m.