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Unit of study_

PSYC3012: Cognitive Psychology

Semester 1, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit extends the theories and methods of investigating memory and attentional processes discussed in PSYC2013/PSYC2016 to consider a number of domains of higher cognitive processing including memory, language, categorisation, and reasoning. An integrating theme of the course will be how such cognitive capacities contribute to skilled behaviour and expertise across a range of domains of human behaviour, and how they are implemented in artificial intelligence systems. The practical program will expose students to a variety of the research methods used to investigate higher cognitive processes, develop their understanding of how these methods can be used to investigate hypotheses about mental processes and consider applications of cognitive research to real-world problems and issues.

Unit details and rules

Unit code PSYC3012
Academic unit Psychology Academic Operations
Credit points 6
PSYC2012 and (PSYC2013 or PSYC2016)
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Irina Harris,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam Final take home exam
24-48 hour take-home assessment
50% Formal exam period 2.5+ hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO4
Assignment Critique
Written critique on a topic
15% Week 06 750 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Assignment Research report
Report of research project - scientific format
35% Week 10
Due date: 04 May 2020 at 11:59

Closing date: 01 Jun 2020
2000 words (+ 150 word abstract)
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO10 LO7 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2

Assessment summary

  • Group Presentation Assignment. You will collaborate with other students to prepare a class presentation on a topic that will be given to you in the first tutorial. This is not a compulsory assessment. If you do not complete it, you will simply forgo the marks. A Special Consideration applied to this assignment will result in an alternative assignment being offered.
  • Class Participation. Ongoing attendance and participation in class discussion during tutorials. This is not a compulsory assessment. Please inform your tutor if you are absent, or if you attended a different tutorial.
  • Research Report. *Compulsory assessment. This is a 2000 word APA-style report on the experiment run in Week 2 of semester. Failure to submit this assignment will result in an Absent Fail (FA) grade. If you do not submit your report by the closing date, you will be required to complete an alternative assignment on a different topic to satisfy this course requirement. Unless you have applied for special consideration and had an extension approved till after the closing date, you will not receive a mark for the alternative assignment but it will be evaluated to determine whether it represents a serious attempt. Submissions that are not assessed as a serious attempt (e.g., wrong topic, too short, missing sections) will receive an Absent Fail (AF) grade.
  • Final Exam. *Compulsory assessment. A 2-hour exam consisting of multiple-choice and short-answer questions. Students who are not able to attend the exam due to illness or misadventure may apply for Special Consideration and be offered a replacement exam. Note that the replacement exam may be of a different format (e.g., all short-answer questions). Failure to attend the exam, or a replacement exam, without special consideration will result in an Absent Fail (AF).


Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 1. Course overview and administrative issues; 2. Similarity and Knowledge Representation 1 Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
Similarity & Knowledge Representation 2 Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
Week 02 Categories and Concepts 1 Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
Categories and Concepts 2 Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
1. PRAC EXPERIMENT. 2. Instructions for group assignment. Tutorial (2 hr) LO4
Week 03 Applications to education and industry 1 Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
Applications to education and industry 2 Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
1. Bilingualism. 2. Class time for group assignment preparation Tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO8
Week 04 Machine Learning Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
Language and thought Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
1. Implicit Learning. 2. Class time for group assignment preparation Tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO8
Week 05 Developmental language disorders Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
Reading development Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
1. GROUP PRESENTATION. 2. Developmental disorders Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO10
Week 06 Skilled reading Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
Theories of reading Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
1. RESEARCH REPORT INSTRUCTIONS. 2. Categorisation Tutorial (2 hr) LO4 LO7 LO9
Week 07 Reading instruction Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
Object recognition Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
Teaching reading Tutorial (2 hr) LO5 LO10
Week 08 Objects vs faces Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
Face recognition Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
Face and object recognition Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO10
Week 09 Memory and Forgetting 1 Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
Memory and Forgetting 2 Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
NO TUTORIALS Tutorial (2 hr)  
Week 10 Memory and Forgetting 3 Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
Reasoning and logic Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
Reasoning 1 Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 11 Theories of reasoning Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
Probabilistic approaches Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
Reasoning 2 Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 12 Basic concepts in skilled behaviour Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
How do experts differ from novices Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
Skill acquisition Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 13 Determining the limits of expertise Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10
Integrating reasoning and skill Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO5 LO10

Attendance and class requirements

Due to the exceptional circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, attendance requirements for this unit of study have been amended. Where online tutorials/workshops/virtual laboratories have been scheduled, students should make every effort to attend and participate at the scheduled time. Penalties will not be applied if technical issues, etc. prevent attendance at a specific online class. In that case, students should discuss the problem with the coordinator, and attend another session, if available.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings


Cognitive Processes: Eysenck, M.W. & Keane, M.T. (2015). Cognitive Psychology: A student handbook (7th edition). New York: Psychological Press.

Addtional recommended readings will be listed on Canvas.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Display basic knowledge and understanding of major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in cognitive psychology
  • LO2. Demonstrate ability to describe, explain and evaluate research studies examining cognitive processes involved in language, visual recognition, memory, reasoning and skilled behaviour.
  • LO3. Develop the ability to locate, collect, analyse, manage, integrate and convey information using appropriate resources, tools, methods and strategies.
  • LO4. Understand the issues involved in designing and conducting research to investigate cognitive psychological questions
  • LO5. Develop and apply critical and creative thinking, sceptical inquiry, and the scientific approach to solve problems related to cognitive psychology.
  • LO6. Use reasoning and evidence to recognise, develop, defend, and criticise arguments and persuasive appeals
  • LO7. Communicate effectively in a variety of formats in a manner that is appropriate to the audience and the context.
  • LO8. Work productively, collaboratively and openly across diverse groups, demonstrating understanding of the complexity of sociocultural, linguistic and international diversity.
  • LO9. Use information in an ethical manner and learn to recognise and promote ethical practice in research
  • LO10. Understand and apply psychological principles in interdisciplinary contexts; integrate and synthesise multiple viewpoints to work effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Some revisions will be made to lecture topics to reduce the amount of content covered.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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