PYMMCN-Methods in Cognition and Neuroscience

Module Provider: Psychology
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Prof Philip Beaman


Type of module:

Summary module description:

The purpose of this module is to inform students about some of the methods used in the study of cognition and neuroscience research. The focus of the module is on methodological issues in the study of cognitive psychology and neuroscience, for example understanding the function of the brain using fMRI, EEG and TMS. Students read set material and discuss it in a series of seminars. Students are required to make informal presentations of written material.


The module aims (1) to discuss critically a variety of methodologies for research in cognition, perception, and neuroscience including topics ranging from cognitive modelling, experimental cognitive psychology and online testing to fMRI, EEG, TMS and neuropsychology (2) to present topical research in cognition and neuroscience, and to link it with research actively undertaken at Reading; (3) to enable students to perform critical evaluations of research in this field; (4) to support students in the design and planning of research activity.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Give a critical account of the range of methods deployed in answering research questions in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience.

  • Show how different theoretical frameworks and the choice of specific research methods might influence research in cognitive psychology and human neuroscience.

  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of empirical research in selected sub-areas of cognitive psychology and neuroscience.

  • Demonstrate understanding of how to plan an empirical research project using a relevant methodology

  • Demonstrate understanding of the impact that different human brain imaging techniques have had and are likely to have on progress in neuroscience.

Additional outcomes:

It is anticipated that this module will provide a platform for subsequent work by students on postgraduate courses in cognitive psychology and neuroscience.

Outline content:

Methods used in the study of cognition and neuroscience, specifically approaches such as cognitive modelling, experimental cognitive psychology, online testing, and techniques such as functional MRI, psychophysiology, and TMS.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Students will be given directed reading which they will be expected to have completed before attending seminars. Teaching sessions will last approximately three hours. A member of the Department of Psychology staff will give a short lecture on the important learning points. There will then be opportunity for 1.5 to 2 hours’ discussion, the aim of which will be to enable students to complete the required summative assignment.

Students should be aware that the standards expected of them, in oral and written contributions, are higher than those expected in undergraduate work. Their work should in particular bear on issues of methodology.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 15
Guided independent study: 85
Total hours by term 100
Total hours for module 100

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

The assignment for this module is a critical review and evaluation of an empirical research paper, as would be carried out by a journal reviewer or editor.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Assessment requirements for a pass:


Reassessment arrangements:

If a student fails the assignment, an alternative, equivalent assignment can be submitted.  The assignment and date of submission will be by arrangement with the Module Convenor and/or Programme Director. Students should note however that, given the University regulations on failing credits, it may not be in their interests to resubmit the coursework.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 10 April 2019


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