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PSY2006 : Animal Cognition

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Melissa Bateson
  • Lecturer: Professor Christopher Petkov
  • Owning School: Psychology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


The aim of this module is to explore the evidence for the existence in non-human animals of higher cognitive abilities previously thought to be uniquely human.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will comprise lectures and seminars on the following topics:

•       The comparative approaches to cognition
•       Associative learning and Lloyd Morgan’s Canon
•       Concept formation
•       Language and communication
•       Episodic memory, future planning and mental time travel
Reasoning, problem solving and tool use/manufacture
Social learning and culture
•       Social intelligence and theory of mind
Emotions and moods
•       Metacognition and consciousness

•       Reading and interpreting the primary literature in animal cognition
•       Writing good essays in animal cognition

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading122:0024:00Assigned reading for lectures
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading61:006:00Reading in preparation for seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching61:006:00Seminars in half groups
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study521:0052:00Independent reading and revision
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are used to impart information in a concise manner, to highlight areas of importance and to direct further reading and independent study. Seminars are used to test students understanding using quizzes and worksheets, to discuss set reading and to enrich students understanding via watching video material. For a subset of the seminars (4) the class is divided into two groups taught in alternate weeks, in order to achieve a smaller class size and facilitate discussions. These smaller seminars focus around the in-depth analysis of papers that the students have previously read and have come prepared to discuss. Set background reading and independent study allow students to pursue certain topics in greater depth. Optional writing exercises set as homework (not assessed) are used to allow students to practice writing about the topics covered in the module.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
PC Examination902A100Unseen, essay 50% & multiple choice 50%
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The examination comprises a combination of multiple-choice questions (all compulsory) and an essay (from a choice of titles). The multiple-choice questions test breadth of knowledge and problem solving. The exam essay tests ability to integrate material from across the course and written communication under time pressure. The essay additionally gives students the opportunity to display evidence of information learnt during independent study.

The format of resits will be determined by the board of Examiners

FMS Schools offering Semester One modules available as ‘Study Abroad’ will, where required, provide an alternative assessment time for examinations that take place after the Christmas vacation. Coursework with submissions dates after the Christmas vacation will either be submitted at an earlier date or at the same time remotely.

The form of assessment will not vary from the original.

Reading Lists