PSYCH 764 : Special Topic: Dual Process Theories of Human Cognition


2020 Semester Two (1205) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

No prescription

Course Overview

Human beings exhibit a uniquely developed capacity for flexible thought and action. In order to account for this flexibility of mind, researchers in cognitive, social, and developmental psychology have proposed various dual-process theories that explore how automatic (implicit, parallel) and controlled (explicit, serial) processes interact to support adaptive thought and behaviour in different domains. In this course, we will explore how dual-process theories have been applied to topics such as memory, learning, categorisation, theory of mind, numerical cognition, moral reasoning, social attribution, cognitive control, and decision-making. In so doing, we will discuss key processing frameworks, including connectionism and contemporary versions of reinforcement learning. The skills developed in this course will be particularly useful for those wishing to pursue (a) a MSc or PhD in psychology, (b) a career involving the intersection of psychology and technology (e.g., working on artificial intelligence), or (c) a career in education or public health. 

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
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Develop a more comprehensive and integrated view of how the mind functions that extends beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries. (Capability 1 and 2)
  2. Compare, contrast, and critically evaluate different theoretical frameworks and research paradigms in the fields of cognitive, developmental, and social psychology. (Capability 1 and 2)
  3. Lead and participate in engaging discussions that connect the course material to overarching debates in the field, practical issues in society, and your own personal interests and aims. (Capability 2, 4 and 6)
  4. Develop the motivation and skillset necessary to become a self-directed learner, including the capacity to evaluate one’s current knowledge and abilities critically. (Capability 2, 3 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Participation 20% Group & Individual Coursework
Written Assignments 30% Individual Coursework
Presentation 10% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 40% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4
Written Assignments
Final Exam

Key Topics

Theories of Cognitive, Social, and Developmental Psychology; Memory; Categorization; Statistical Learning; Cognitive Control; Numerical Cognition; Theory of Mind; Moral Reasoning; Decision Making

Learning Resources

All course materials will be available through Canvas. No outside text is required.

Special Requirements

Students must give a presentation to the class and participate in discussions.

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 to spend 2 hours in lecture each week, an average of 5.5 hours engaging with course materials each week (e.g., completing assigned readings, taking notes, watching online lectures), and an average of 2.5 hours working on assignments or preparing for assessments.

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 12:02 p.m.