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BSc Computer Science (Human Computer Interaction) / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:

Unit code PSYC37111
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Division of Psychology and Mental Health
Available as a free choice unit? No


We will explore fundamental questions about emotion, such as: What are emotions? How are they measured? How many emotions are there? Are emotions innate or learned? Are they universal or culturally determined? How are emotions related to bodily sensations and expressions of the face, voice or body? What is the role of ‘thinking’ in ‘feeling’, and of ‘feeling’ in ‘thinking’? Does damage to the body or the brain alter the emotional experience?  What happens when expression processing goes wrong?

We will link empirical findings to the main theoretical frameworks in the scientific study of emotion. Understanding these theories of emotion and the type of research studies that support them will allow us to examine fundamental questions



The unit aims to enhance students’ knowledge of emotion and their capacity to evaluate empirical data.  It also aims to link psychological theory and develop critical analysis skills and scientific creativity. 




Teaching and learning methods

In each week there will be a 2 hour lecture, a one hour seminar and a one hour reading group.  Each lecture will be uploaded onto blackboard and a full reading list will be provided.   In the seminar groups, students will be asked to participate in different tasks (debate, mini experiment, discussion questions) in a small group setting. In the reading groups students will discuss primary articles that provide intriguing empirical evidence supporting and / or expanding on work discussed in the lecture. 

Active modes of learning will be encouraged throughout the module, drawing mainly on small groups where students can work together to enhance their understanding. Students would also benefit from individual exercises both in class and via blackboard discussion. Visuals, video clips, references to news items, interesting case studies and debates will be used whenever possible. 


Knowledge and understanding

  • Comprehend and be able to discuss research papers in cognition and cognitive neuroscience
  • Describe current theories of emotion coherently and outline the similarities and differences between them
  • Understand how we apply multidisciplinary methods to elicit and measure emotion, and to interpret empirical findings
  • Consider emotional processing in different patient populations

Intellectual skills

  • Analyze critically and evaluate the empirical basis for  theories of emotion
  • To be able to work in small groups and evaluate different topics through discussion

Practical skills

  • Appraise empirical data
  • Comment on peer work, making constructive suggestions for improvement

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Independently gather and organise material from various sources, including library and electronic sources
  • Use word processing and the Internet
  • Present ideas and thoughts coherently orally and in writing
  • Recognise and identify views of others and work constructively with them

Assessment methods

A two hour exam worth 67% and a 1500 word coursework essay worth 33%

Feedback methods

  • Ample opportunity for peer feedback as well as feedback from reading group and seminar leaders; detailed written feedback on your essay
  • Reading group: receive feedback on your understanding of the theory
  • Seminar group: receive feedback on your ability to comprehend and evaluate empirical data
  • Essay: receive detailed feedback on your understanding of theory and data and the relationship between them, and on your ability to think critically, express yourself, and engage in scientific problem-solving
  • Blackboard: engage with discussion boards and wikis to receive further feedback on your understanding and ask any follow-up questions


Recommended reading

E. Fox (2008). Emotion Science: An Integration of Cognitive and Neuroscientific Approaches. Palgrave Macmillan.

Jonathan Cole and Henrietta Spalding: The Invisible Smile: Living without facial expression. Oxford University Press.

James, W. (1884). What is emotion?, Mind, ix, 189.

Izard, C.E. The Many Meanings/Aspects of Emotion: Definitions, Functions, Activation, and Regulation. Emotion Review October 2010 2: 363-370.


Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 0

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