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PSY3050 : Making Sense of Forgotten Senses: Investigating Olfaction and Gustation

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Caroline Allen
  • Lecturer: Dr Kirsten Brandt
  • Owning School: Psychology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

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

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


The aim of this module is to take understudied sensory systems and place them at the centre of human and animal experience by examining them from a range of perspectives across the lifespan. The module will cover the relevance of olfaction and gustation to survival and the lived experience by covering biological, evolutionary, social, psychological and clinical research and perspectives on olfaction and gustation in humans and non-human animals. We will also consider the impact of sensory deficits on these factors and will explore some of the pioneering approaches being developed to better support those with altered taste and smell.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module will comprehensively cover the sense of smell and taste, including biological, evolutionary, social, psychological and clinical factors related to the senses. Students will be given an overview of the chemical, biological, and neuroanatomical basis of olfaction and gustation. Following this introduction the course will be split into 2 main content areas:

-Evolutionary importance of smell and taste:
•       Comparative approaches
•       Survival
•       Disgust
•       Reproduction
•       Communication/Pheromones
•       Artificial fragrances

-The clinical importance of smell and taste
•       The multisensory experience of food
•       Assessment of sensory function/dysfunction
•       Altered eating: approaches and interventions
•       Somatosensation: texture, temperature, weight, mouth feel
•       Food, the senses and mental health and well-being
•       Case studies: Cancer, COVID-19, Neurological conditions

Methods for assessing the chemical senses will be woven throughout these two core content areas, and students will be expected to learn how to administer these in practical sessions.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials41:004:00Sync online: Q&A, experience sessions (patient/industry experts), digital sensory assessmt practice
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials51:005:00Non-synchronous online
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00Present in person
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1105:00105:00Completing the research proposal
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading105:0050:00Research activities (including completing sensory assessments) reading from lecture materials
Guided Independent StudySkills practice24:008:00Evaluating a peer research proposal and recording 1 minute pitch video
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities42:008:00Olfaction based at home activities (developing hypotheses, smell training etc.)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops52:0010:00PIP: practical components (including sensory assessment, sample collection & admin, peer review)
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lecture materials (SO and PiP): These will provide the information necessary for knowledge outcomes 1-4, and will be augmented by assigned reading set for students.

Structured research and reading activities: These activities will allow the students the opportunity to build on the 4 knowledge outcomes through deeper discussions/debates of specific topics, all of which will help students to design their research proposals. Additionally, these will allow students to develop the skills listed above.

Practical workshops:
Students will gain practical skills related to olfactory and gustatory methodologies and assessment methods (skill 4). Time will also be devoted to the practical aspects of designing research proposals and generating hypotheses (skill 1) which is of direct benefit to the module assessment. All of the skills developed here are directly related to the design of a research proposal, and thus will guide the students through completing this assessment.

Skills practice: Students will be given the opportunity to evaluate the work of their peers and receive feedback on their own work (skills 2 and 4, students are allocated guided independent study time to prepare for this).

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research proposal2M70Students will develop a novel research proposal related to olfaction and gustation (2500 words)
Reflective log2M30Structured reflective log (including evaluation - 600 words) of experiences conducting 2 sensory assessment methods
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2MPeer review: critique & evaluate draft versions of research proposals. Minimum of 150 words x 4 reviews.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The research proposal will be used to assess the students’ knowledge and theoretical understanding of the course material, their academic writing skills, and their ability to critically evaluate the literature. It also allows them to demonstrate their ability to synthesise information from the literature and generate novel hypotheses, and combine this with their knowledge of olfactory and gustatory research methods – all of which will be necessary for designing a research proposal.

The formative peer assessment of their research proposal idea will allow the students to practice their evaluative skills and will also present them with the opportunity to gain useful feedback on their own proposals. Students will record a 1 minute “pitch” of their proposal idea. Students will then be asked to review 4 peer videos and give written constructive feedback (minimum of 150 words).

The practical workshops will allow students to develop skills in administering tests of sensory perception. Students will select two sensory assessment methods completed in these workshops which they will use to complete a structured reflective log which will be a graded component of the course, and understanding of these methods will enable students to consider and evaluate methods for the completion of the research proposal.

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

If the module is failed, Stage 3 students may only be offered a resit if an honours degree is not awarded on the first occasion. Failed assessments will be the same format during the August resit period.

Reading Lists