Student Pages
Postgraduate course

Cognitive Psychology

Main content

Teaching semester

Autumn and spring

Objectives and Content

The course teaches basic and higher cognitive processes in the information processing tradition. Some prior knowledge of cognitive psychology will be assumed (e.g. introductions to cognitive psychology at 1st year university level or equivalent).

We focus first on basic cognitive processes such as perception and categorization of information, attention and memory, and we address relationships between normal and abnormal cognitive functioning. We then present the contribution of cognitive psychology to understanding higher mental processes, for example: the extent to which our thinking is rational, problem solving, risk evaluation and decision making. We discuss the interaction between cognition and affect, cognitive processes in communication, and the advantages and disadvantages of cognitive biases in people's adaptation to their environment.

The course runs intensively over a few weeks. To ensure sufficient time for studying and for completing obligatory activities, students are advised against taking this course in conjunction with other courses whose main teaching period runs in parallel.

Learning Outcomes


By the completion of the course the student will have knowledge of: 

  • The historical development of cognitive psychology
  • The organisation of basic cognitive functions from an information processing perspective
  • The relevance of higher cognitive processes for understanding people's behavior in selected areas such as risk assessment, environmental behavior, clinical dysfunction or therapeutic intervention
  • Methodologies used in the study of cognition


By the completion of the course the student will be able to: 

  • Describe and discuss central experimental findings and basic processes from central aspects of cognition such as attention perception, memory, language, thinking, reasoning, judgement and decision making.
  • Describe and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of cognitive shortcuts (heuristic processing) in decision making.
  • Describe the extent to which human thinking processes are rational.
  • Evaluate the experimental design, method and conclusion in research articles which test cognitive theories.

General Competence

By completion of the course the student will be able to: 

  • Reflect on the importance of empirical evidence for theoretical positions within various areas of cognitive psychology. 
  • Reflect on how the cognitive perspective helps our understanding of human behavior and experience.


Required Previous Knowledge

Due to the limited number of spaces available and special entry requirements, admission to the course is limited. Students should have already taken introductory university level courses in cognitive psychology as some prior knowledge will be assumed. Students should have the language skills and study experience to write exam essays in English.

Access to the Course

Due to the restricted number of spaces available and special entry requirements, admission to the course is limited.

Teaching Methods and Extent of Organized Teaching

Teaching will consist of lectures integrated with video clips, demonstrations of important experimental paradigms, student activities and critical discussion of research papers. Some online resources will be used including online lectures and online activities. The course will provide students with opportunities to take part in cognitive tests in areas such as decision-making style, mental imagery, working memory skills etc.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

  • One timetabled obligatory introduction meeting at the start of the lecture course.
  • Short multiple-choice tests: Several online lectures will be followed by a short multiple-choice test. Students must take part in and pass up to a possible maximum of 8 short tests (consisting 5-15 questions each) in order to pass this activity. There will be more than one chance to take each test. Each test must be completed within a specified time period.
  • Longer closed-book multiple-choice test taken in the classroom. The test will examine knowledge from across the course, and will include some questions from the short online multiple-choice tests. The test will be given either in one sitting or may be split thematically over two testing dates.
  • Participation in at least 3 online activities on My UiB. Examples of activities can include essay writing and peer commentary on essays written by other students, participation in discussion forums and reflection notes, or creation of short videos that summarise relevant theory or experiments in cognitive psychology. More detailed information will be given at the introductory meeting.
  • Participation in a workshop on the theme of consciousness. This will involve preparatory reading and presentation to other students in small groups.
  • Complete an anonymous course evaluation survey.

Forms of Assessment

Students are required to submit 2 written essay papers at the end of lecture modules on selected teaching themes. The essays will be based on taught themes, recommended literature, and discussion of experimental design and evaluation.

Students will write individually in class, but with access to their notes and literature.

Essays will be delivered electronically on Inspera immediately after each timetabled writing session of 2.5 hours. The word limit on each essay is 1100 words.

A grade will be assigned on each essay which contributes in equal weight to an overall grade.

Grading Scale

The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, grade F is a fail.

Reading List

Recommended reading will be listed and will include texts books and scientific journal articles.

The reading list will be published 01.06. for the autumn semester and 01.12. for the spring semester

Course Evaluation

The course will be evaluated in accordance with the Faculty of Psychology's routines for participatory evaluation and the University of Bergen's Quality Assurance System.

Course Coordinator

Department of Psychosocial Science

Course Administrator

The Faculty of psychology

Exam information

  • Type of assessment: Portfolio assessment - Essays

    Withdrawal deadline
    Examination system
    Digital exam
    • Exam part: Essay 1

      Submission deadline
      06.05.2021, 16:00
      Examination system
      Digital exam
    • Exam part: Essay 2

      Submission deadline
      28.05.2021, 16:00
      Examination system
      Digital exam