Optional Courses

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We will first establish that eye movements provide a window to the attentional system. Whilst attention can be deployed outside of the centre of gaze in most cases what we fixate on is typically useful for the task at hand. Until recently most of the research into attention and eye movements have used abstract or static images to gain an understanding of the visual and attentional system. Here we argue that the main purpose of these systems is to guide movement and in order to understand the attentional system we must study gaze behaviour under goal-directed, real-world conditions.


The course offers advanced psychology students an opportunity to read, learn about, and discuss outstanding issues in the psychology of what makes people different.



To describe and evaluate research that addresses the issue of why some children have difficulty acquiring spoken language.


The course offers advanced psychology students an opportunity to read about, present and discuss outstanding issues in the psychology of class.


In personality psychology, as elsewhere, many fundamental questions appear to be open for debate. This course will offer advanced students an interactive forum for learning about some of these questions along with some possible contradicting answers to them.

Aims and objectives: The course will provide an overview of the role that the frontal lobes of the brain play in complex behaviour.  Evidence from neurological patients will be the main focus although functional neuroimaging of healthy individuals will be related where possible. Specific areas include disorders of executive function, memory and social cognition that arise after lesions in specific regions of the frontal lobes and associated structures. Different theoretical views of frontal lobe function will also be discussed. 


Intimate relationships are frequently listed among the factors that make life most meaningful. At the present time, the field of relationship science is characterized by an enormous breadth of content, several unique methodological and statistical challenges, and meta-theories around which various empirical findings are integrated and organized.

“Please explain what is meant by a significance level of .05” is an interview question commonly used in assessing someone for a psychology teaching or tutoring job. And psychologists are rightly concerned with the proper use of statistics. But “Please explain your philosophical views on causality … or explanation … or abstraction” is a question very few psychologists are ever asked over their whole career. It represents a profound crisis for our field if psychologists do not know the philosophical status of the entities they are counting or putting into their theories and models.

Morality is critical to our lives, with differences in what people think is moral or not, and differences in what people do in moral situations, profoundly affecting individual and collective wellbeing, social harmony, and political and economic policy. This course will examine the factors affecting moral behaviour, including helping behaviours, charitable donation, exploitation of others, corporate malfeasance, and hypocrisy. It will also look at the major contemporary models of moral judgment and reasoning, and the evidence both for and against them.

Covering a variety of methodologies, this course will describe and evaluate the results of recent research on multisensory integration. First, the neural mechanisms underlying multisensory integration will be outlined. We will then examine the perception of multisensory events, the advantages afforded by the ability to combine different sensory modalities and the key determinants of intersensory interactions. Another key question addressed will be how multisensory interactions are linked to and modulated by attention.

The course assumes that most students have had little or no previous exposure to research in parapsychology. Parapsychology is defined as the scientific investigation of apparent new means of communication or influence between the organism and its environment, known as ‘psi’. The course does not presume that psi exists, but treats this as a scientifically-testable hypothesis and reviews the findings of laboratory psi research.

Language production is a deceptively complex task. In this option, we will consider how people are able to rapidly retrieve and combine words to form grammatical utterances, both with and without the presence of a listener. We will begin by considering the fundamental processes that are involved in producing utterances. We then focus on how these processes might be affected by the presence of a listener, by examining current research on language production in dialogue and considering how children might learn to communicate effectively.


To provide an overview of models of psychological therapies, and current methods of delivery.


To examine models of psychological therapy and their historical development, alongside their current delivery within a UK context. Models of psychological difficulties, and the manner in which they underpin these therapies, will be emphasised.  Consideration of the methodological difficulties in gathering evidence for psychological therapies will also be made.

The course offers advanced psychology students an opportunity to examine some of the core psychological processes at work in counselling and psychotherapy. The course will cover:

Understanding our native language seems almost effortless, yet the task is actually highly complex, and requires fast integration of many different types of information, involving virtually all domains of cognition.  This course will introduce students to the state-of-the art of our understanding of how humans understand language.  



It is generally agreed that the medical model of health and illness is not sufficient to understand human health. The main contribution of health psychology has been to highlight the role of behaviour as a determinant of good or ill physical health. Behavioural factors, such as smoking, unhealthy diet or lack of exercise, contribute to the most debilitating illnesses of the 21st century. Behaviour change techniques are at the core of illness prevention, and psychology, as the science of behaviour, is key to preventing illness and improving health.

Working memory refers to the cluster of processes engaged while thinking: retrieving information already learned, attending to information in the environment, and using information in the service of some goal. Theories of working memory describing how these functions relate to each other will be considered, drawing upon empirical evidence from cognitive experiments, typical and abnormal neural functioning, and development from childhood to adulthood.