Consciousness is one of the most colourful concepts in science. Although it is still difficult to say what it actually is (the philosophical question), progress has been made in understanding how it works (the psychological question). The lectures cover theories and findings on the function and malfunction of consciousness, and address issues such as whether free will is an illusion, whether animals and robots are conscious, how conscious processes are neurally generated, and how drugs, dreams and meditation affect the conscious experience. The topics covered in the work group sessions relate to aspects, sub-functions or applications of consciousness, and focus on controversies that students then discuss in an academic paper (work group assignments). The purpose of the work group sessions is to guide students through the written assignment.
The student will acquire a broad understanding of classic and modern theories on consciousness and a deeper understanding of how theoretical concepts and hypotheses in this area can be applied to empirical phenomena and practical problems.
The student will learn to write and review an academic paper, as well as how to respond to such a review. The student will be trained in (English) academic writing, searching scientific literature, analysis, reasoning, reporting, applying editorial guidelines and reviewing.
The student will acquire general knowledge of theories on human consciousness as well as an understanding of the methodological basis of research on consciousness.
Application of knowledge and understanding (academic skills): the student will learn to apply knowledge about human consciousness and related cognitive processes. He/she will analyse and conceptualise a selection of theoretical and practical problems and suggest empirical tests to address them.
General professional skills: the student will learn how to write a scientific report, evaluate a literature review, apply stylistic rules (APA) and use ICT. The student will also learn how to report analyses, theoretical considerations and recommendations to both scientific colleagues and the broader public.
For the timetables of your lectures, work group sessions, and exams, select your study programme.
Lectures Work group sessions Exams
Students need to register for lectures, workgroups and exams.
Instructions for registration in courses for the 2nd and 3rd year
Elective students have to enroll for each course separately. For admission requirements contact your exchange coordinator.
Students are not automatically enrolled for an examination. They can register via uSis from 100 to 10 calendar days before the date; students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the examination.
Registering for exams
Mode of instruction
8 2-hour lectures
3 mandatory work group sessions in Dutch or English.
Students choose 1 or 2 topics that relate to applications, fundamental questions or key phenomena of consciousness. The first work group session is plenary and the second and third in small groups (25 students). In the second and third sessions, students will discuss and work with their specific subtopic with their teacher and other students to gain more in-depth knowledge. They are instructed on how to write and review papers. The papers are due approx. 2 weeks after the third session. In a fourth optional writing workshop (a few days before the deadline for the paper), the lecturers offer the students individual help with writing their paper. The specific deadlines for the papers and reviews will be published on Blackboard.
The marks for the exam and the paper are weighted 75:25 respectively, in the final mark for the course. Students who do not (entirely) complete their peer review tasks, wil have to perform the peer review task in the retake for the paper assignment, in order for their grade to become valid.
Regulations on grade calculation
The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has instituted that instructors use a software programme for the systematic detection of plagiarism in students’ written work. In case of fraud disciplinary actions will be taken. Please see the information concerning fraud.
Blackmore, S. (2010). Consciousness: An introduction. Hodder & Stoughton, 2nd edition (note that two versions of this edition exist, they differ in paging and cover).
- Drs. Roy de Kleijn