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.
Knowledge and understanding: 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.
The student will write a scientific paper about a consciousness-related issue.
The student will review and evaluate papers by his/her peers.
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, workgroups, and exams, select your study programme.
Students need to register for lectures, workgroups and exams.
Instructions for registration in courses for the 2nd and 3rd year
For information on registration periods consult the bachelor course registration
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
2 compulsory 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 in small groups (25 students). In the second session, students give a presentation on the topic of their paper and discuss it with the other students. They are instructed on how to write and reviewe papers. The papers are due 2 weeks after the second session. In a third optional writing workshop (a few days before the deadline for the paper), the lecturers offer the students individual help with writing their paper. The 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.
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.
Prof. Dr. Bernhard Hommel
Drs. Roy de Kleijn