Cognitive Psychology

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The aim of the course is to deepen students' understanding and appreciation of how a cognitive approach can help us to understand our own behaviour and experience, and that of other people, whether in our personal or professional life.

The first part of the course focuses on basic cognitive processes. Central topics include how visual perception solves the problem of perceiving the external world, the roles of mental imagery, what attention is and how it controls our lives, how we remember and forget, and to what extent cognitive neuroscience can provide a scientific explanation of consciousness. The course includes discussion of the relationship between normal cognitive functioning, impaired functioning and unusual skills.

The second part of the course focuses on complex mental processes such as reasoning, decision making, problem solving and creativity, as well as on how emotions influence these processes. Teaching will include how these processes operate in expert professional groups such as clinical pscyhologists, other health personel, and the police. Examples will be discussed of how experts evaluate and deal with risk, and how they gather the information needed for evaluations and decisions.

The course includes several obligatory activities, including live teaching events and online assignments, with deadlines distributed across the semester. It is assumed that students taking this course have some prior knowledge of cognitive psychology.

Learning Outcomes


On completion of the course, the student will have:

  • Advanced theoretical, empirical and applied knowledge of basic mental processes from a cognitive perspective.
  • Knowledge of quantitative research methods used in cognitive psychology.


On completion of the course, the student will be able to:

  • Analyse and critically reflect on central experimental findings, and on core cognitive processes in areas such as perception, attention, memory, consciousness, reasoning and the extent to which human thought can be considered rational, judgement and decision making including advantages and disadvantages of heuristic processing, problem solving, creativity, risk assessment, and how emotion influences cogntive processes.
  • Apply knowledge of cognitive processes to help understand cognitive deficits in certain clinical populations, and to facilitate clinical evaluations and decisions.
  • Analyse and critically reflect on current theory and research within cognitive psychology, be able to place these in a historical context, and be able to apply cognitive psychology to professional reasoning.

General Competence

On completion of the course the student will be able to:

  • Reflect on the importance of empirical evidence for theoretical positions within various areas of cognitive psychology.
  • Contribute to professional innovation by reflecting on how the cognitive perspective contributes to understanding human behavior and experience.
  • Reflect on how cognitive psychology can enhance understanding of how most people - as well as professional experts - evaluate, make decisions, and act.
  • Apply relevant theoretical and empirical research literature in a practical context, and use their research competence to update themselves academically.
  • Analyze and disseminate relevant research, and master cognitive terminology used by professional psychologists.
  • Communicate and disseminate cognitive knowledge, both to other professional groups and specialists.

ECTS Credits


Semester of Instruction

Autumn and spring

Place of Instruction

University of Bergen
Required Previous Knowledge
Course intake has limited spaces. Students must have already taken an introductory university-level course in cognitive psychology as some prior knowledge will be assumed. Students should have the language skills, and study experience, to read literature and write exam essays in English.
Access to the Course
Due to the restricted number of spaces available and special entry requirements, admission to the course is limited.
Teaching and learning methods
Teaching methods will emphasis blended and active learning. Much of the learning material will be provided online, including online lecture recordings, links for further study, guided reading, and online assignments. Some of these assignments are obligatory. Teaching will include demonstrations of important experimental paradigms and cognitive tests. Classroom activities will emphasis practical workshops, discussions and other group-work.
Teaching Methods and Extent of Organized Teaching

Teaching will consist of lectures integrated with video clips, demonstrations of important experimental paradigms, student activities and critical discussion of research papers. Some online resources will be used including online lectures and online activities. The course will provide students with opportunities to take part in cognitive tests in areas such as decision-making style, mental imagery, working memory skills etc.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
  • A compulsory introduction meeting at the start of the course, and a compulsory orientation meeting for the second part of the course later in the semester.
  • Short multiple-choice tests: Several online learning themes will include a short multiple-choice test. Students must take part in and pass up to a possible maximum of 8 of these tests (consisting 5-15 questions each) in order to pass this activity. There will be more than one chance to take each test. Each test must be completed within a specified time period.
  • Longer closed-book multiple-choice test. The test will examine knowledge from across the course, and will include some questions from the short online multiple-choice tests. The test will be given either in one sitting or may be split thematically over two testing dates.
  • Participation in at least 3 online activities on My UiB. Examples of activities can include essay writing and peer commentary on essays written by other students, participation in discussion forums and reflection notes, or creation of short videos that summarise relevant theory or experiments in cognitive psychology. More detailed information will be given at the introductory meeting.
  • Participation in a workshop on the theme of consciousness. This will involve preparatory work in small groups to study literature before the workshop, followed by presentations to other students during the workshop.
  • Supervised development of a semi-structured interview based on cognitive theory and methods, leading to a live interview with a professional who needs to make important judgements and decisions or solve complex problems. Development and conduct of the semi-structured interviews will be done in small groups.
  • Complete an anonymous course evaluation survey.
  • Forms of Assessment

    Students are required to submit two written essay papers. Each paper will be written on a separate specific date. The essays will be based on taught themes, recommended literature, and evaluation of experimental design.

    Students will write individually, but with access to their notes and literature.

    Essays will be delivered electronically on Inspera immediately after each timetabled writing session. The word limit on each essay is 1100 words. Submission of the essays is on Inspera.

    Each essay will be evaluated with a grade. The 2 grades will contribute in equal weight to an overall grade.

    Grading Scale
    The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, while grade F is a fail.
    Assessment Semester
    Reading List

    Recommended reading will be listed and will include texts books and scientific journal articles.

    The reading list will be published 01.06. for the autumn semester and 01.12. for the spring semester

    Course Evaluation
    The course will be evaluated in accordance with the Faculty of Psychology's routines for participatory evaluation and the University of Bergen's Quality Assurance System.
    Programme Committee
    Department of Psychosocial Science
    Course Coordinator
    Department of Psychosocial Science
    Course Administrator
    The Faculty of psychology