PSYCHOL 2006 - Foundations of Perception & Cognition

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2014

This course builds on the course components of the biological bases of behaviour, perception, and cognition studied in Psychology IA and Psychology IB. The aim of this course is to build a solid foundation in both perception and cognition. Students will examine how the brain processes sensory information to create a coherent representation of the environment and to allow individuals to perform daily activities. Students will explore the visual system from the simple detection of light to using visual information to control movements and will examine topics in cognition such as attention, memory, concept learning, judgement and decision making, and language. The focus will be upon understanding basic principles and theories as well as their potential application to real world problems such as eyewitness testimony, autobiographical memory, language development and problem solving. Previous or concurrent enrolment in PSYCHOL 2004 - Doing Research in Psychology is assumed.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PSYCHOL 2006
    Course Foundations of Perception & Cognition
    Coordinating Unit Psychology
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Prerequisites PSYCHOL 1000, PSYCHOL 1001 and PSYCHOL 1004 or equivalent
    Corequisites PSYCHOL 2004
    Incompatible PSYCHOL 2000A/B & PSYCHOL 2002 or PSYCHOL 2003
    Assumed Knowledge PSYCHOL 2004
    Assessment Online exercises, written assignments, written exam
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Carolyn Semmler

    Additional academic staff: Dr Matthew Dry - ph +61 8313 3856; Email
    Dr Amy Perfors - ph +61 8313 5744; Email

    School of Psychology Office: Ph +61 8313 5693; Email
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

    1.    Define and distinguish the methods used by cognitive psychologists and psychophysicists to understand human behaviour
    2.    Explain key mechanisms and define key theories within the sub-fields of perception, memory, decision making and language
    3.    Develop and define testable hypotheses based on theories of cognition and perception
    4.    Assess support for hypotheses using data generated by experimental investigations of cognition and perception.
    5.    Summarise key findings from research in perception and cognition
    6.    Relate everyday experiences and behaviour to explanations based on scientific knowledge generated by the field of perception and cognition.
    7.    Understand and present the results of a literature review, results of an experimental investigation and conclusions based on experimental research.
    8.    Use correct APA format for presentation and referencing  (APA 6th Edn.)
    9.    Understand the strengths and limitations of research methodologies used in perception and cognition, including cultural and ethical considerations.

    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1, 2, 5
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 3, 4, 5, 6
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 6, 7
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 7
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 7
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 6
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 1, 2, 8, 9
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Goldstein, E. Bruce (2011). Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research and Everyday Experience. Wadsworth: Belmont, CA.    

    Mather, G. (2009). Foundations of Sensation and Perception. Psychology Press: London, UK.

    Both texts available at Unibooks.

    For additional information regarding required resources please refer to the relevant Undergraduate Program Handbook at the following link:
    Online Learning
    This course may use MyUni for one or more of the following:

    •    Communication with students via Announcements and Discussion Board
    •    Submission of assessment
    •    Access to lecture recordings
    •    Access to tutorial materials
    •    Additional readings
    •    Self-directed learning activities
    •    Exam preparation materials

    Link to MyUni:

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course will involve a series of lectures on each of the topics of perception, memory, decision making and language. These lectures are supported by a face-to-face tutorial, online activities and readings.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Face-to-Face Contact Hours
    2 hours per week in Lectures over a 12 week period (Total 24 hours)
    4 hours per semester in Tutorials as scheduled (Total 4 hours)

    Revision of Material/ Tutorial Preparation
    2 hours per lecture (4 hours per week) revision of lecture content and set readings (Total 48 hours)
    2 hours per topic on self-directed learning activities (Total 8 hours)

    Assessment Tasks
    10 hours preparation of experimental tasks & 20 hours locating, reading and assimilating background material for preparation of the practical report (Total 30 hours)
    4 hours preparation for quizzes (4 hours)
    Exam revision as required (approx. 23 hours)
    End of semester examination (3 hours)

    Total time commitment: 144 hours

    Learning Activities Summary
    A detailed course timetable is provided under the Course Information area in MyUni. 

    Week Topic Lecture
    Week 1 Language Introduction to language/Learning language 1
    Week 2 Language    Learning language 2/Using language
    Week 3 Language Evolution of language/Language and thought
    Week 4 Decision Making Introduction to decision making/Normative theories
    Week 5 Decision Making Descriptive theories/Prescriptive theories
    Week 6 Decision Making Improving medical decision making/Improving legal decision making
    Week 7 Memory Sensory Memory/Attention
    Week 8 Memory Short term Memory/Problem Solving
    Week 9 Memory Working Memory/Long Term Memory
    Week 10 Perception Introduction to perception/ Notes on methods
    Week 11 Perception Spatial vision/Body senses and binocular vision
    Week 12 Perception Motion Perception/ Attention
    Disclaimer: This program is provisional and subject to change
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Assessment Type Weighting Learning Outcome(s) being addressed
    Exam Summative
    (See Examinations for date)
    50% 1, 2, 5, 6 & 9
    Practical Report Summative
    (Due Monday 19th May)
    30% 3, 4, 7 & 8
    Tutorial Attendance Summative 4% 1, 2, 5 & 9
    Quizzes Summative
    (Due Monday 9th June)
    16% 1, 2, 5 & 6
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Detailed information on searching for psychology resources using the internet are available from the Library (see Maureen Bell, the Psychology subject librarian).

    Help with writing for Psychology is available via the Writing Centre
    Assessment Detail
    The Course Learning Outcomes are assessed as follows:

    Exam. The exam will consist of a combination of multiple choice questions and short answer questions. All readings and lectures over the course of the semester may be assessed. Details of exam times are available via the examinations web site.

    Tutorials. Attendance at tutorials is required. The tutorials require active attention and participation from every student in order to be maximally beneficial. For this reason, 4% of your final grade reflects tutorial attendance.

    Quizzes. Each of the four topics will be associated with a 10-question quiz available on MyUni in the Assignments tab. Each quiz is worth 4% of your grade, and can cover content from either the readings or the lectures for that section. You will be able to print out the questions and answer them later (i.e., you do not have to answer everything the first time you log on; however, you can only submit once, so be careful!).

    Prac report: Practical reports will be worth 30% of the grade and are explained fully in the Prac Report folder (found in the Assignments tab on MyUni).

    Please refer to the Level II Psychology Handbook and the General Handbook for Undergraduate Psychology students (available at the links below) for further details relating to assessment
    Please refer to the General Handbook for Undergraduate Psychology students (available at the link below) for details on submission process/requirements, penalties for late submission, the process of applying for extensions, and the staff “turn-around” timeline on assessments and the provision of feedback and policy relating to re-submission/redemptive work.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.