Curriculum Guideline

Special Topics in Cognitive Psychology

Effective Date:
Course Code
PSYC 3904
Special Topics in Cognitive Psychology
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
15 Weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours

Weekly Distribution:

  • Lecture/Seminar: 4 hrs. per week / semester
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following:

  • Lecture
  • Audio-visual materials
  • Small group discussion
  • Problem-based learning
Course Description
This course examines a special topic or emerging questions in the fields of cognitive psychology. Readings and topical content will include theory, research, critical debate, and applications relevant to the specific topic.
Course Content

The general framework of an upper-level special topics course in psychology can be represented as below:

  1. Historical Context
  2. Theories
  3. Mechanisms and Processes
  4. Critical Analysis and Remaining Questions

A specific example of topics for a course on Critical thinking in Psychology:

  1. Characteristics and history of science vs. pseudoscience
  2. Sources of knowledge (media, parents, doctors, etc.), cognitive and perceptual limitations,
  3. Magic and other scams, alternative medicine, myths around psychopathology, homeopathy, self help, talk shows
  4. Quality of knowledge and social issues such as legalization of drugs, going green, etc.

A specific example of topics for a course on Consciousness:

  1. The problem of consciousness
  2. Where and how to focus
  3. Illusion and selves; selves and free will
  4. The brain and evolution
  5. Machines and consciousness
  6. What is real
  7. Altered states of consciousness
  8. How to approach consciousness

A specific example of topics for a course on Human Factors:

  1. Aviation (flight issues and traffic control)
  2. Driving (in car dials and lighting, highway signage, signals)
  3. Medicine (labels on bottles, vision and memory, x-rays, medical errors)
  4. Human/computer interaction
  5. Known flaws and best practices
Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

  1. Identify and describe relevant theoretical influences on current scholarship relating to the specific topic of the course.
  2. Define and apply key terms and concepts relating to the specific topic of the course.
  3. Analyze, synthesize, and critically evaluate scholarly research relating to the specific topic of the course.
Means of Assessment

Means Of Assessment

The course evaluation will be in accordance with Douglas College and Psychology Department policies. Evaluations will be based on the course objectives. The specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor at the beginning of the semester.

An example of a possible evaluation scheme would be:

  • Small group assignments 10%
  • Term project paper 20%
  • Term project presentation 10%
  • Midterm exams 40%
  • Final exam 20%
Textbook Materials

Example text (for topic Critical thinking in Psychology):

  • Lilienfeld, et al. 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology.

Example text (for topic Psychology of Consciousness):

  • Blackmore, S. (2013). Consciousness: an introduction. Routledge.          

Example text (for topic Human Factors):

  • Norman, D. A. (2013). The design of everyday things (Revised and expanded edition). New York: Basic Books.

Additional readings may also be curated by the instructor and students.


Courses listed here must be completed prior to this course:


Courses listed here must be completed either prior to or simultaneously with this course:

  • No corequisite courses

Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

  • No equivalency courses