Advanced Cognition and the Social Brain


This module is designed to develop students' understanding of social psychology and cognition, building on their second-year Cognitive and Social Psychology module. The module develops a deeper understanding of cognitive processes such as attention, perception and memory and explores how these processes underpin social processing.


The aim of this module is to provide the student with an in-depth and critical understanding of issues related to social and non-social cognition, including key theoretical approaches and research findings. This is a core BPS module where topics introduced at level 8 are revisited at a more advanced level. This will be achieved through lectures, practicals and research-focused assessments.

Learning Outcomes

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

1.  Demonstrate a deep understanding of key cognitive psychological processes.

2.  Demonstrate an advanced understanding of social processing and its links to cognition.

3.  Engage in effective, knowledgeable communication regarding cognitive and social research in both written and oral work.

4.  Critically evaluate research relating to cognition and social cognition.

Indicative Content

1 Historical and Conceptual Issues

Introduction to cognitive models in psychology and their influence on our understanding of social processing.

2 Visual perception

Models of visual perception – reminder of processes in the recognition of objects and categories.

3 Attention

Understanding models of visuo-spatial and executive attention. Divided attention and dual processing accounts of cognition. Working memory.

4 Memory

Exploring types of long-term memory including semantic and episodic, declarative and non-declarative. Understanding associative networks in memory and priming.

5 Social memory

The storage and organisation of complex social information in memory. Exploring social categorisation and the formation and structure of stereotypes.

6 Activation and application of social categories

Understanding conditions of stereotype activation and application. Dual processing models of social cognition and automaticity.

7 Stereotype formation

Models of the cultural development of stereotypes, as well as developmental trajectories of stereotype use across childhood.

8 Attitudes and prejudice

Exploring the cognitive bases of attitudes such as prejudice. Models of attitude-behaviour links and prejudice control.

9 Self-processing systems

The influence of the self on attention, perception and memory for incoming information.

10 Neuropsychological perspectives

Understanding the neural bases of the cognitive and socio-cognitive processes covered in the module. What can neuroimaging and patient studies tell us about social and non-social cognition?

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The module is divided into two connected sections: the first six weeks will focus on understanding key cognitive processes, while the second half will explore how social psychology is underpinned by these processes. Teaching will be delivered through a combination of lectures and tutorials. Lectures will focus on key module materials, presenting relevant theories and research that are closely aligned to the expertise of teaching staff. Lectures will be broken up with activities designed to increase engagement and deepen learning. Tutorials will be held on a fortnightly basis, and students can sign up to attend as many as they like. Each tutorial is designed to develop a specific skill that supports assessment performance, such as essay writing and preparing for unseen exams. This module structure gives students the opportunity to develop the Abertay Attributes, with professional and personal skills and intellectual understanding fostered by research and knowledge exchange, and active citizenship developed by learning about social issues relating to social cognition (e.g., prejudice). Learning will be assessed via a critical review essay and exam, allowing intellectual understanding, personal skills and professionalism to be gauged. Employability will be enhanced by the transferable skills developed in tutorial work, as well by the inclusion of a career development session in Feedback Week.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 24
Tutorial/Seminar 6
Supervised Practical Activity 0
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 50
Independent 120

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 2019/20 , and may be subject to change for future years.