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PSY3008 : Art, Mind and Brain

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Gabriele Jordan
  • Lecturer: Professor Anya Hurlbert, Dr Yoav Tadmor
  • Owning School: Psychology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


To familiarise students with the mechanisms and brain structures underpinning the creation, perception and appreciation of art, with an emphasis on visual art and artistic creativity.

To enhance knowledge of theoretical and practical research issues.

To provide opportunities to acquire in-depth knowledge about selected psychological processes relevant to the producing and appreciating works of art.

Outline Of Syllabus

We will explore a selection of the following topics during the course of the module:
•       What is art? What is the function of art? Do artists have special minds/brains?
•       Art and visual cognition. All art is in illusion: how do we interpret images on 2-D canvas? What are the
differences/similarities between everyday perception and perception of art? Do artistic conventions tap
into the workings of our visual system?
•       Art and edges. Why do people draw? Why are line drawings so effective? What can drawings tell us about
•       Art and the representation of space. How does pointillism work? How do artists induce the illusion of
depth on 2-D canvas?
•       Art and colour. How has the use of colour changed through the eras and why? Why are certain colour
combinations more effective and aesthetically pleasing than others?
•       Art and the brain. Is art predominantly processed in the right hemisphere? Are there dedicated neural
networks underlying the creation of art? What can we learn from patients with brain lesions? What can we
learn from autistic savants?
•       Art and creativity. What is creativity? What are the underlying mechanisms of creativity? What is the
link between mental disorders and creativity?
•       Art and music. What is music? What is it for? What are the biological origins of music?

The module consists of two interlinked and equally important components: lecture-based structured materials and student-led activities. Lecture-based materials set the parameters of the course. Their primary purpose is to direct the students to the relevant reading and to sensitise them to the key points of the topic in question. Additional structured guided learning sessions are interactive and student-led. Opportunities are given to students to express their own ideas and to get involved in discussions and debates that could lead to further considerations.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture81:008:00Present in person teaching activity
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Preparation for summative assessment
Guided Independent StudySkills practice110:0010:00Preparation for formative practice oral presentation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00Present in person activities including debates, oral presentations, writing exercises
Guided Independent StudySkills practice83:0024:00Reading assigned papers
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities25:0010:00Reading core papers for discussion
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops11:001:00Present in person teaching activity
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion61:006:00Guided discussion/debate via Canvas discussion board
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study19:009:00General reading, writing notes
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk21:002:00Present in person teaching activity at the beginning and end of the module
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The scheduled and structured learning materials set the parameters of the course. Their primary purpose is to direct the students to the relevant reading and to sensitise them to the key points of the topic in question. The additional activities give the students the opportunity to express their ideas in debates, as an oral presentation, and small-group discussions .

Students are guided to (a) gain independence and take more responsibility for their own learning and skill development, (b) take a critical and scientific approach to thinking. A certain amount of independent reading and thinking will be required beyond the essential reading stipulated for this module.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M1001500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

One essay (1500 words)

Rationale and relationship of assessment to learning outcomes:

The oral presentation assignment is encouraged as formative practice, and will give students the opportunity to further their knowledge, independent learning and understanding of material relevant to the module; the ability to research this material and to organise it into a coherent argument; and the ability to communicate clearly in a formal presentation to a small group. Each student will be asked to prepare and deliver one oral presentation on a topic of his/her choosing from a set of topics that complement the lecture material. The presentations will be observed by the module leader and students will receive feedback on both content and style of delivery.

Other types of formative practice include debates and guided discussions on general theories that underpin individual topics and thread throughout the course.

The course essay will be used to assess knowledge, independent learning and understanding of material relevant to the module, the ability to integrate this material, to communicate clearly in writing, and the ability for critical thought. In addition, the essay assesses the skills of analysis and reasoning.

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.

Reading Lists