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Unit information: Cognition and Learning in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Cognition and Learning
Unit code EDUCM0042
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Howard
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit provides students an opportunity to learn about and critically evaluate fundamental principles and knowledge in the domain of cognitive psychology. Students will critically examine research methods appropriate to the study of cognition. Sessions will be provided to evaluate key concepts and formative support will be provided for the assessment. Students will also study key applied issues in the development of cognition, such as the development of language, and the role of cognition in educational attainment.

Core concepts include: 1) memory; encoding and retrieval processes, working memory, autobiographical memory, episodic and semantic memory; 2) language: acquisition, structure, comprehension, production; 3) attention: top-down, bottom-up, selective and divided attention, multitasking and perceptual experiments; and 4) cognition and learning in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.


  • To develop an understanding of cognitive psychological processes.
  • To examine how such cognitive processes underpin behaviour.
  • To review research in cognitive psychology, including the methods by which data are collected, analysed and interpreted.
  • To develop a critical awareness of theories and models of cognitive processes and the evidence that supports them.
  • To develop skills in reading cognitive psychological research.
  • To make links between the brain, cognition and behaviour.
  • To apply knowledge of cognitive processes to educational domains.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit students will be able to demonstrate that they:

  • Understand key concepts in the current study of cognitive psychology.
  • Have developed skills in the evaluation and interpretation of psychological research on cognition.
  • Understand the importance of biological, social and psychological factors in cognitive psychology.
  • Have explored the way in which different approaches to cognitive psychology relate to and complement each other.
  • Are able to critically interrogate claims about cognitive psychology in the educational literature.
  • Understand the implication of recent psychological research on cognitive psychology for classroom practice.
  • Are able to evaluate the relevance of cognitive psychology for educational policy and innovation.

Teaching details

The course will be delivered using a combination of teaching strategies, such as whole group lectures and seminars, case studies, critical analysis of key readings, group discussions and student presentations.

Contact Hours:

10 hours

Assessment Details

Summative assessment:

The assignment (2,000 words) for this unit requires production of a critical review of current research on a topic in cognitive psychology and its application to education. Within this review, students will be required to demonstrate their understanding of concepts addressed in the unit and their ability to construct and provide evidence for an appropriate argument.

Reading and References

  • Ashcraft, M.H. (2010). Cognition (5th Ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
  • Bavin, E. (Ed.) (2012) Cambridge Handbook of Child Language. Cambridge: C.U.P.
  • Eysenck, M.W. & Keane, M.T. (2010). Cognitive Psychology: A Student’s Handbook (6th Ed). Hove: Psychology Press.
  • Meadows, S. (2006) The Child as Thinker (2nd edition). London: Psychology Press.
  • Norbury, C., Tomblin, J.B. and Bishop, D.V.M. (eds.) (2008) Understanding Developmental Language Disorders: From Theory to Practice. Hove: Psychology Press
  • Vellutino, F. et al. (2004) Specific reading disability (dyslexia): what have we learned in the past four decades? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 45 12-40