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What Brains Do for People


Admission requirements

This course is available for students of the Humanities Lab
If you have received your propaedeutic diploma within one academic year, your academic results are good and you are a very motivated student, you may apply for a place in the Humanities Lab.


Brain science is making its mark on a surprisingly wide range of fields in science and society. Insights from cognitive neuroscience are now brought to bear on issues in psychology, economics, education, law, publishing, marketing, linguistics, public policy making, communication theory, political campaigning, cultural studies, ethics and many other disciplines. There is a widely held belief that understanding the brain is the key to progress in all of these fields. We should finally be able to understand the nature of human consciousness and culture, of personal identity, free will and morality.
In this module you will critically examine some of the issues that brain science is contributing to. Are the high hopes and expectations justified? Topics will include personal identity, consciousness, neuroplasticity, social cognition, free will, teenage brains, morality and evolutionary psychology.

Course objectives

  1. Students acquire basic knowledge of key concepts and insights in neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience.
  2. Students learn how these insights can be brought to bear on a number of issues in other disciplines.
  3. Students learn to critically examine the relevance of brain science for other disciplines.
  4. Students acquire and practice skills in critical analysis, argumentation, and presentation (orally, written, and using digital media).


Courses of the Humanities Lab are scheduled on Friday afternoon from 13.00 to 17.00hrs.
For the exact timetable, please visit the following website.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

This course is worth 5 EC (140 hours):

  • Seminar sessions: 6 × 4 = 24 hours

  • Required reading: ca. 400 pages = 80 hours

  • Preparation of presentation: 8 hours

  • Final assignment: 16 hours

  • Peer review: 4 hours

  • Closing event: 4 hours

  • Reserved: 4 hours

Assessment method

  • Oral presentation: 20%

  • Participation in class discussions: 10%

  • Final project assignment: 50%

  • Peer review: 20 %
    The final grade is the weighted average of the above components. A resit option is offered only for the final project assignment.


Attendance is compulsory for all meetings (lectures, seminars, excursion). If you are unable to attend due to circumstances beyond your control, notify the Humanities Lab coordinators in advance, providing a valid reason for your absence, and hand in your weekly assignment in writing to the lecturer (if applicable). Being absent without notification and valid reason may result in lower grades or exclusion from the course.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Brightspace will be used for:

  • Readings

  • Assignments

Reading list

Readings will be made available through Brightspace .


Students of the Humanities Lab will be registered via uSis by the administration of the Humanities Lab. More information about registration for courses will be provided on Brightspace.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Lecturer: Dr. J.J.M. Sleutels
Humanities Lab office: e-mail


This course is part of the Humanities Lab programme, visit the website for more information.
Visit the Honours Academy website for more information about the Honours College.