Real-World Cognition

Module code: 801G1
Level 7 (Masters)
15 credits in autumn semester
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Coursework, Unseen examination

This module aims to enable you to recognise the achievements and utility of cognitive science and to apply its models and methods to real-world problems. Applications of cognitive science abound in the real world.

For example, principles derived from cognitive science are applied to the design of information displays, educational technologies and safety equipment, amongst other things. The module provides a framework for characterising different types of problem. Knowledge of research findings from cognitive studies of language, decision making, reasoning and problem solving can help people make better decisions, make them less susceptible to the bogus claims of some advertisements and to help them adopt a more rational stance in their perceptions of risk (e.g. in the context of gambling, `stranger danger' and medical screening programmes).

Studies of complex problem solving give us insight into how expert performance differs from that of novices and how, for example, 'everyday' calculations in shops, markets and other real-world contexts differ from similar activities in formal educational settings. Understanding how language and cognition interact shows why some kinds of knowledge is difficult to acquire. Studies of human error show how everyday mistakes and slips occur and how they may be avoided or lessened. These are examples of the kinds of topics that can be approached from a cognitive science perspective.

Module learning outcomes

  • Systematically understand the broad relevance of cognitive science to problems faced in the real world.
  • Identify and apply appropriate frameworks and methods of cognitive science to real-world problems.
  • Critically evaluate real-world systems and artefacts in terms of human and task factors.
  • Communicate their knowledge of the application of cognitive science to real-world problems and tasks.