Philosophy of Science, Mind and the `Self ' | Abertay University

Philosophy of Science, Mind and the `Self '


The module draws on various different perspectives in psychology, biology and behavioural sciences in order to explore various conceptual and historical issues relating to how psychological science is/has been conducted, disseminated and applied in the wider world, and how individuals have attempted to understand our minds, consciousness, our "self" and our place in the world. Advanced conceptual issues in psychology are discussed, and students are introduced to skills useful for academic and non-academic research more generally.


The module will provide students with an understanding of key critical debates on what it means to be human and some of the issues inherent in the conduct, dissemination and application of research on human behaviour. Students will be able to use this knowledge to explore their discipline at a societal and conceptual level, which, in turn, will facilitate useful professional and research- related skills.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of advanced debates on the nature of mind, behaviour and self, and be able to describe their interests in psychology in terms of its historical context.

2.  Be able to appreciate and communicate the complexity and multi -disciplinary nature of research on human behaviour, drawing on different "schools-of-thought" where appropriate.

3.  Show competence and creativity in justifying critical evaluations of empirical data and describing different theoretical perspectives.

4.  Appreciate where knowledge from psychology can directly benefit relevant "transferable skills" and to enhance self-awareness through basic knowledge of methods within counselling.

5.  Be able to reflect on the conduct, dissemination and application of research in psychological science in ways that enhance students' own research-related skills and ability to problem-solve.

Indicative Content

1 Philosophy of science and mind

(a) How do we "do" science? (b) How is science funded and disseminated? (c) Philosophy of mind, consciousness, memory and the "self".

2 Conceptual issues and current directions in Psychology

Perspectives on, and applications of, psychology. Is the mind a blank slate? Is the DSM valid? How do you know what is true? Can psychology and philosophy tell us anything about how to live a happy life? Ethics and psychology

3 Perspectives on self and self-awareness

Relationships between 'self' and memory. Introduction to 'person-centred' approaches to listening and responding to others.

4 History of Psychology

A broad overview of common themes and debates running through the history of our field. The 'shaping' of psychology by social forces and the 'Psychologization of society'

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Lectures (20 hours) will discuss key conceptual and historical issues in psychology and will be partly interactive. Material delivered in lectures will feed-into some discussion within seminars. External lecturers and guest lecturers will deliver some of the lecture content (pending availability). Seminars (6 hours per group) will discuss knowledge covered in the lectures, and will provide support toward assessments. Seminars will be split between small group discussion (with prior reading/handouts to facilitate discussion), critical review of relevant published scientific papers and sessions to facilitate transferable skills (e.g., scientific writing, ethical issues in psychology). Drop-in classes (10 hours) are student-led and will provide opportunities for students to gain support in computer labs for their assessments (e.g. discussion/feedback/literature search). A small number of contact hours will be delivered online via mini-lectures (Each lecture: 15 mins approx + 45 minutes practice/active learning) with the opportunity for students to practice content covered within face-to-face lectures as they progress through the term (e.g., in support of Unit 2). Assessment Unit 1 is designed for students to demonstrate their ability to present a compelling and impactful argument within a relatively brief word limit. Skills in communicating to both lay and academic audiences will be assessed. Assessment Unit 2 is designed to foster a passion/interest among students for a specific area of psychology, by appreciating the historical context for that topic within psychology. This module develops the graduate attributes in students in the following ways. Students will be encouraged to think critically about how the mind works and how psychological science is/has been conducted in the past, enabling them to view their discipline in a holistic manner, and helping them to formulate novel solutions to ideas, both empirically and through argument/discussion. Students will reflect critically on issues related to how psychological science is disseminated by the media and how individuals access `stored knowledge' in the information age and whether this information is used for ethical purposes.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 20
Tutorial/Seminar 16
Supervised Practical Activity 0
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 74
Independent 90

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2018/19 , and may be subject to change for future years.