PSYCH 742 : Neuroscience of Awareness


2023 Semester One (1233) (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. 

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.


Tuākana Science is a multi-faceted programme for Māori and Pacific students providing topic specific tutorials, one-on-one sessions, test and exam preparation and more. Explore your options at

This course is supported by the Tuākana in Science Programme, which facilitates the success and wellbeing of our Māori and Pacific students. The foundation of the Tuākana Programme is the Tuākana-Teina principle an integral relationship in which older or more expert Tuākana (traditionally brother, sister or cousin) guides a younger or less expert Teina (traditionally younger sibling or cousin). This is a reciprocal relationship which fosters safe learning and teaching environments. Read more here:

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
  • Split-brain/split-mind?
  • Detecting awareness
  • Disguising awareness

Special Requirements

It is expected that all students attend class and contribute to discussion.

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.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is [required/expected] at scheduled activities including [labs/tutorials/studios/clinics] to [complete/receive credit for] components of the course.
Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including [seminars/tutorials/labs/studios] will [be available/not be available] as recordings.
The course [will/will not] include live online events including [group discussions/tutorials].
Attendance on campus is [required/not required] for the [test/exam].
The activities for the course are scheduled as a [standard weekly timetable/block delivery].

Learning 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.

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.

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.

We appreciate course feedback and incorporate suggestions into our course planning.

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.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


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.

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

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.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

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 students may be asked to submit 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. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 01/11/2022 09:36 a.m.