PY3BIA-The body in action

Module Provider: Psychology
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Andreas Kalckert


Summary module description:
«p»In this module we will discuss how we control and perceive our actions, and the role these actions have for our psychological architecture.«/p»


In this module we will discuss the role of actions for the experience of the world and our own body. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the processes underlying the ability to control our actions, and which role these processes have for experience of our own actions. To this end we will combine observations from psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive science, and students will be enabled to broaden their perspective on psychological processes relating to the role of the motor system in perception and action.

Assessable learning outcomes:

•    Deeper understanding of the sensorimotor system, with particular emphasis on motor control

•    Be able to critically evaluate key findings in the literature of perception and action

•    Assess the processes related to the psychological experience of actions

•    Take an interdisciplinary perspective on psychological questions relating to the motor system 

•    Demonstrate knowledge of the functional neuroanatomy of the sensorimotor system in the brain

•    Evaluate the relationship between perception and action by psychological and neuroscientific findings

•    Define the processes underlying the psychological experience of actions

•    Develop arguments informed by multidisciplinary research findings 



Additional outcomes:

•    Gain experience in the interpretation of literature from other research fields 

•    Participate in small groups discussions 

•    Practice presentations skills


Outline content:

In recent years there is an increasing interest in the processes underlying the experience of our bodily actions. Different fields like psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, robotics, and others discuss the role of these experiences for higher cognitive functions. These new concepts embrace the idea that the interaction of the body with the world is essential for our psychological architecture. In this view a major function of the brain is to enable this interaction, and generate actions which lead to changes in the world. However, several questions arise then: how do we plan and generate those actions? On what kind of information do these processes depend? And how do we know that our actions yielded a change in the world?

To clarify these questions we will examine the processes involved in motor control by incorporating neuroscientific, psychological, and clinical literature. We will in particular discuss the motor control system in the monkey and human brain, and the processes around the preparation and intention to move. We will re-evaluate how perception and actions are linked by incorporating new perspectives from the field of embodied cognition and observations from other research fields. We will then move on to have a closer look at the psychological aspects in motor control, i.e. the experience of being in control of our own actions (sense of agency). We will conclude these questions by looking at clinical conditions, in which patients exhibit an altered experience of their own actions (e.g. schizophrenia).


Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module consists of7 x 2 h seminars, in which students give a presentation. 

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 14
Guided independent study 86
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage

Other information on summative assessment:

The 1.5-hour Summer Exam will require students to answer 1 essay question on topics covered in the module (75%).

Coursework will comprise a 2000-word essay (25%). 


Formative assessment methods:

Students will have the opportunity to provide the module convenor with an essay plan for comments and feedback in the preparation for the assessment.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:


    Requirements for a pass:

    The module must be passed with 40%

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Re-assessment is by re-examination in August / September

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 31 March 2017

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