What is consciousness? An introduction to the philosophy of mind and cognitive science ADED1057E

  • Academic Session: 2019-20
  • School: Short Courses
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 1 (SCQF level 7)
  • Typically Offered: Runs Throughout Semesters 1 and 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

What is consciousness? Is it merely a state of the brain, or something over and above that? Can things without brains, like machines, or even non-material things, be conscious? What does it even mean to say that something is "conscious"? This course addresses these and a variety of related questions including the relationship between mind and brain, and the nature of mental phenomena such as perception and sensation. The course is self-standing, but also serves to prepare students for many other areas of study at levels 1 and 2 in the credit bearing programme.


Blocks 1 and 2

2 hours per week for 20 weeks

Wednesdays, 19.00-21.00

Requirements of Entry

None. Undergraduates welcome.

Excluded Courses





One 2,500 word essay to be submitted by the end of week 17 on one of the suggested essay questions (50%); written examination (90 minutes) at the end of course (50%).

Course Aims

■ To introduce students to the basic philosophical terms used in contemporary philosophy of mind and cognitive science.

■  To provide students with a general understanding and appreciation of some key philosophical issues discussed in contemporary philosophy of mind and cognitive science, by guiding them through a number of classical and contemporary readings, and by introducing them to central issues and developments in the philosophy of mind.

■ To acquaint the students with the basic philosophical problems of the current study of the philosophy of mind and cognitive science, and make known to them the major solutions to these problems offered in classical and contemporary readings.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students should be able to:


■ Demonstrate a familiarity with a specified range of positions in the philosophy of mind

■ Critically evaluate the key issues surrounding mental phenomena, such as the structure of mental content, the status of explanation in the psychological sciences and the possibility of artificial intelligence.

■ Analyse ways in which some philosophers have responded to different problems in this area.

■ Develop independent reading with an understanding of the basic issues in contemporary philosophy of mind and cognitive science.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.