PSYCH 742 : Neuroscience of Awareness


2020 Semester One (1203) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

An advanced seminar on the neuroscience of awareness and related topics. The course will primarily consist of student-led discussion of original research, with particular emphasis on areas of active controversy or debate. In addition to the theoretical discussion of human awareness, there will be a strong focus on the methods and practice of research in human neuroscience.

Course Overview

This is an advanced seminar-style course intended for postgraduate students in psychology or related disciplines who are interested in the neural underpinnings of human awareness.  During the course we will explore contemporary theoretical accounts of awareness, the dominant methodological approaches to the topic, and the challenges involved in bridging between psychological and physiological accounts of awareness.  The course will consist of a mixture of lecture, student-led discussion, and debates focused on areas of current controversy.

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

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Explain and critically evaluate the leading contemporary approaches to the neuroscience of awareness, including areas of unresolved controversy. (Capability 1 and 2)
  2. Describe and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary research methods in human neuroscience as they are applied to the study of awareness. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  3. Communicate and debate the theoretical and methodological contributions contained in assigned readings from the contemporary human neuroscience literature. (Capability 3 and 4)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Integrative Essay 35% Individual Coursework
Research Review and Critique 25% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 40% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3
Integrative Essay
Research Review and Critique
Final Exam

Students will submit two pieces of original writing during the semester – a Research Review and Critique and an Integrative Essay.

Essay (35 marks). Students will submit an original, integrative essay on an assigned topic. The topic and guidelines for this essay will be made available during the first two weeks of the semester.  There are no set word- or page-limits, but aim for 3000 - 5000 words.

Research Review and Critique (25 marks). Students will lead the discussion of assigned articles, with a common theme for each session. Each discussion leader will prepare a brief presentation summarizing one or more assigned articles, which will then be used to guide the discussion. Following this presentation, the discussion leaders will then each prepare a critical written review of the research they presented (including, where appropriate, a discussion of debates or controversies relating to this work). There are no set word- or page-limits for this review, but between 3000 - 5000 words seems appropriate. 

Students must complete BOTH pieces of coursework and obtain a passing mark overall to pass this course. It is also expected that all students attend class and contribute to discussion.

Final Examination (40 marks): This will be a three-hour written examination. Students will be expected to complete three short essays, drawn from a larger selection of essay topics. These topics will reflect the major themes and research topics discussed during the semester.

Key Topics

Perceptual awareness
Constructive perception
Neural theories of awareness
Neural correlates of awareness
Selective attention and awareness
Oscillations in attention and awareness
Working memory and awareness
Binocular rivalry and continuous flash suppression
Detecting awareness
Disguising awareness

Learning Resources

There is no required textbook for this course.  Target articles and supplementary readings will be assigned for each class session, and available via the Reading Lists menu on Canvas. Please read all of the assigned papers before the relevant class session, and be prepared to discuss them during the seminar session.

Special Requirements

Attendance and classroom participation are expected.

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, the class meets once a week for two hours.  This leaves roughly four hours per week of reading and thinking about the content, and up to four hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation per week.

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.

Class sessions will not be recorded. 
All course materials will be made available on Canvas and updated during the semester as required.


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 11/01/2020 03:17 p.m.