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Consciousness (IBP)


Students of the Dutch bachelor’s programme, see Consciousness.

Admission requirements

An introduction to Cognitive Psychology is recommended.


Consciousness is one of the most colourful concepts in science. Even though it is still difficult to say what consciousness actually is (the philosophical question), there is quite some progress regarding the issue of how consciousness works (the psychological question). The lecture will discuss 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 conscious experience. The workgroup topics are related to aspects, sub-functions or applications of consciousness, highlighting controversies that students work out in an academic paper (workgroup assignments). The purpose of the workgroups is to guide the student through the paper writing assignment.

Course objectives

1) The student will gain a broad overview of classical and modern theories on consciousness, and a deeper insight into how theoretical concepts and hypotheses in this area can be applied to empirical phenomena and practical problems.

2) The student learns to write and (peer) review an academic paper, and to respond to reviews. The skills trained are (English) academic writing, searching scientific literature, analyzing, reasoning, reporting, applying editorial guidelines, and reviewing.

  • Knowledge and insight: The student acquires general knowledge about theories on human consciousness as well as insight into the methodological basis of research on consciousness.

  • Application of knowledge and insight (academic skills): The student learns to apply knowledge about human consciousness and related cognitive processes. He/she will analyze a selection of theoretical and practical problems, conceptualize and suggest empirical tests to address them.

  • The student will write a scientific article about a consciousness-related issue in a working group.

  • The student will review and evaluate papers from fellow students.

  • General professional skills: The student learns how to furnish a scientific report and to evaluate literature reviews, to apply report formatting rules (APA), to use ICT, and how to report analyses, theoretical considerations, and recommendations to both scientific colleagues and the broader public.


Consciousness (2014-2015):



Students need to enroll for lectures and work group sessions. Please consult the Instructions registration


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

The course consists of:

  • 8 lectures in English

  • 2 obligatory work-group meetings in Dutch or English. Students choose 1 or 2 (tba) topics, which relate to applications, fundamental questions, or key phenomena related to consciousness. The first workgroup meeting is plenary; the second meeting in small groups (25 students). The first meeting is a lecture about the topic writing and reviewing the paper. Papers are due 2 weeks after the second meeting. Deadlines for reviews will be published on blackboard.

  • an exam

Topics for the workgroups can be found on blackboard

Assessment method

Regulations on grade calculation for compulsory courses of the second year

The grade for the examination counts for 75% of the final grade. The second partial grade counts for 25% of the final grade.

The Faculty of Social 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

Reading list

Blackmore, S. (2010). Consciousness: An introduction. Hodder & Stoughton.

Contact information

Prof. Dr. B. Hommel
E-mail via: secretary Cognitive Psychology
Dr. F. Poletiek (coördinator), and workgroup teachers
E-mail: poletiek@fsw.leidenuniv.nl

Teaching assistent for practicalities regarding essays and reviews: tba