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Students of the Dutch bachelor’s programme, see Bewustzijn

Entry requirements



Consciousness is one of the greatest mysteries in science and is central to the study of psychology. This course introduces students to the major theories about and scientific research on consciousness. We address questions such as: What is consciousness? Can the mind exist independent from the body? Is free will an illusion? Do animals or computers have consciousness? What happens during a near-death experience? What are the pros and cons of meditation? And: Can psychedelics help to treat depression and addiction? During workgroup meetings, sub-topics from the course are covered and students learn to use arguments for or against a particular thesis. These meetings will help the student with the writing assignment, which consists of writing and evaluating a scientific report. Students are trained in scientific writing, searching scientific literature, analytical thinking, reasoning/argumentation, reporting and evaluating, providing professional feedback on the work of peers, and incorporating feedback into their own writing assignment.

Course objectives

**Application of knowledge and understanding (academic skills):

  • The student knows the various definitions, theories, and research methods used in the field of consciousness research.

  • The student is able to apply and integrate this knowledge when analyzing a problem statement and for providing an argument.

  • Upon completion of the course, the student is able to provide a critical evaluation of an empirical scientific study about consciousness.

**General Professional Skills:

  • The student will learn to write a scientific report and apply APA guidelines.

  • The student will learn to provide and process peer feedback.

  • The student will learn to communicate and verbally discuss scientific arguments.


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable



Students must register themselves for all course components (lectures, tutorials and practicals) they wish to follow. You can register up to 5 days prior to the start of the course.


You must register for each exam in My Studymap at least 10 days before the exam date. Don’t forget! For more information, see the enrolment procedure.
You cannot take an exam without a valid registration in My Studymap.

Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

Students who take this course as part of a LDE minor or a premaster programme, exchange students and external guest students will be informed by the education administration about the current registration procedure.

Mode of instruction

7 lectures of 2 hours each
3 working group sessions in Dutch or English + 1 optional writing workshop

Attendance at the workgroup sessions is mandatory. See Brightspace for more information.

The workgroup sessions take place in small groups (15-20 students). In a total there will be three workgroup meetings and a fourth optional writing workshop. During the workgroup meetings, students work on their writing assignment and their peer feedback assignment. Specific deadlines for the writing assignment, peer feedback and assessment will be published on Brightspace.

Assessment method

Fulfilling the course requirements involves passing an exam and handing in a paper assignment, which includes a peer review assignment. The exam material consists of the book (selection of chapters) and lecture material.

The grades for the exam and the paper will be counted in a ratio of 60:40 respectively for the final grade of the course. Peer-review is also a mandatory part of the course that must be fulfilled before the grade for the paper can be awarded.

The Institute of Psychology uses fixed rules for grade calculation. 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. All students are required to take and pass the Scientific Integrity Test with a score of 100% in order to learn about the practice of integrity in scientific writing. Students are given access to the quiz via a module on Brightspace. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of these two policies.

The date, time and location of the exam and the resit will be announced during the course.

Reading list

Harley, T. A. (2021). The science of consciousness. Cambridge University Press.

Contact information

Dr. M. van Elk (Overall Coordinator and coordinator of lectures and exam) and Dr. Z. Sjoerds (Coördinator work groups / paper assignment) can be contacted via