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Entry requirements



Consciousness is one of the most intriguing topics in science. This course will provide an overview of contemporary theories and scientific research on consciousness. Questions that will be addressed are for instance: is free will an illusion, do animals have consciousness, do we have a mind that can exist independent from our body and what happens in our brain during an altered state of consciousness, e.g., as triggered through meditation or psychedelic drugs? The topics covered in the work group sessions are related to the general topic, and focus on controversies that students discuss in an academic paper (workgroup assignments). The purpose of the work group sessions is to guide students through the writing assignment.

The student will acquire a broad understanding of theories and research on consciousness and a deeper understanding of how theoretical concepts and hypotheses in this area can be applied in empirical research and clinical practice.

The student will learn to write and review an academic paper, as well as how to implement peer-feedback to improve a paper. The student will be trained in (English) academic writing, searching scientific literature, analysis, reasoning / argumentation, reporting, and evaluating and providing professional feedback on the work of peers.

Course objectives

The student will be able to explain and differentiate between key concepts and theories of consciousness and which methodologies can be used for studying consciousness.

Application of knowledge and understanding (academic skills): The student will be able to analyze and paraphrase a selection of theoretical and practical problems about human consciousness and related cognitive processes, and formulate an empirically-based argumentation to address controversies in the field.

General professional skills: The student will learn how to write a scientific report, evaluate a literature review, apply stylistic rules (APA) and use ICT. Furthermore, the student will also learn how to communicate and report to both scientific colleagues and the broader public.


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable


NOTE As of the academic year 2021-2022, you must register for all courses in uSis. You do this twice a year: once for the courses you want to take in semester 1 and once for the courses you want to take in semester 2.
Registration for courses in the first semester is possible from July. Registration for courses in the first semester is possible from December.
The exact date on which the registration starts will be published on the website of the Student Service Center (SSC). First year Bachelor students as well as premaster students will be registered by the Student Service Center; they do not need to register themselves.

The registration period for all courses closes five calendar days before the start of the course.
Also read the complete registration procedure

Mode of instruction

8 2-hour lectures
3 mandatory work group sessions in Dutch or English. Details and possible updates will be announced on Brightspace.

Students choose 1 topic within a given theme, that relates to the general topics covered in the course. The first work group session is plenary per theme, and the second and third in small groups (15-20 students). During a homework assignment after the first session, students will do preparatory work for their paper. In the following sessions, students will discuss and work on 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 first version of the paper is due approx. 1 week after the third session, after which fellow students will review the paper. In a fourth optional writing workshop (a few days before the final 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 Brightspace.

Assessment method

The course is evaluated with an exam and a paper assignment, including a peer-review task. The exam covers the literature from the book (selection of chapters). Details and possible updates on online or in-person assessment will be announced on Brightspace.

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 or their paper writing assignment, will have to perform these steps during the resit for the paper assignment, in order for their grade to become valid.

The Institute of Psychology uses fixed rules for grade calculation and compulsory attendance. Thus, for this course it means that 3 out of 4 (3 workgroup sessions + 1 writing workshop) meetings should be attended, otherwise the workgroup part has to be redone the year after.

It also follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of these three policies.

The date, time and location of the review of the exam and retake are disclosed during the course.

Reading list

Blackmore, S. & Troscianko, E. (2018). Consciousness: An Introduction. 3rd edition. Routledge. ISBN 9781138801318

Contact information

Dr. Z. Sjoerds (Coordinator workgroups and paper assignment) and Dr. M. van Elk (coordinator lectures and written exam) can be reached via