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PSY2040 Human Information Processing

Semester 2, 2014 On-campus Springfield
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Psychology, Counselling and Community

Contents on this page


Examiner: Gerry Tehan
Moderator: Liam Hendry


Pre-requisite: PSY1020 and (PSY2100 or STA2300)


Perceptual, attentional and memory processes play a vital role in our daily life and a well functioning and well integrated perceptual and cognitive system is something that most of us take for granted. It is therefore important to understand these systems, and the models and theories relating to them, in terms of everyday human activity, and from that perspective we assume they are functioning normally. Conceptually, these systems are examined in the contexts of information theory, information processing theory, and cognitive psychology. Major themes include the modularity of the human mind, and the distinction between brain and mind (expressed as a hardware / software metaphor). This course is designed to build upon the material taught in Foundation Psychology B to provide psychology students with a firm grounding in cognitive theory as it relates to normal perceptual and cognitive processes.


The course starts with an introduction to human information processing, and a revision of sensation and perception (initially covered in Foundation Psychology B). The course builds upon this material by examining perceptual processes in a functional manner. The perception topics mainly involve vision, with minor mentions of the other senses, and include iconic memory, masking, optical illusions and signal detection theory, with a strong emphasis on experimental research and evidence. Following the introductory information, theories of perception; attention and attentional theories are discussed (all the above topics are examined in a mid-semester CMA test). The course then turns to an examination of human memory with an applied focus, covering topics such as short/long term memory, eyewitness testimony, false memory, and ageing, and includes the most prevalent and current theories of how memory can be best understood, along with evidence for and against such theories. Following memory, the final part of the course centres around reasoning (and reasoning errors) and finishes with the influence of emotion on cognition (all examined in the end of semester exam). In addition, the course allows students to build and demonstrate skills in the analysis of simple datasets, graphing of results and the writing of APA-style Results and Discussion sections (assessed in Assignments 1 and 2).


On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of research, structures and functions in the areas of cognition, sensation & perception, attention, memory, reasoning and emotional influences;
  2. Demonstrate skills in conducting and reporting experimental research in these areas.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Sensation and Perception 40.00
2. Attention 10.00
3. Human Memory 40.00
4. Higher Order Cognition 10.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Quinlan, P, & Dyson, B 2008, Cognitive Psychology, Pearson Education Ltd, Harlow, UK.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Goldstein, EB 2010, Sensation and Perception, 8th edn, Wadsworth, Belmont, CA.
  • Mather, G 2009, Foundations of Sensation and Perception, 2nd edn, Psychology Press, Hove, UK.
  • Reed, SK 2013, Cognition: Theories and Applications, 9th edn, Wadsworth/Thomson, Belmont, CA.
  • Reisberg, D 2010, Cognition: Exploring the Science of the Mind, 4th edn, Norton, New York.
  • Sternberg RJ & Sternberg K 2012, Cognitive Psychology, 6th edn, Wadsworth, Belmont, CA.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Assessments 33.00
Examinations 2.00
Lectures 36.00
Private Study 94.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ASSIGNMENT 1 100 15 25 Aug 2014
CMA TEST 1 (MOD 1 - 5) 50 25 08 Sep 2014
ASSIGNMENT 2 100 30 29 Sep 2014
ASSIGNMENT 3 50 30 24 Oct 2014

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratories and practical work) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To complete each of the assignments satisfactorily, students must obtain at least 50% of the marks available for each assessment.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course. Note that the Conceded Pass is not available in this course due to APAC accreditation standard 2.1.9.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the weighted aggregate of the marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination for this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Not applicable.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be produced within five days if required by the Examiner.

  3. Access to email, the online course environment, and the internet is a departmental requirement. Students who attempt this course without access to the online (Moodle) course environment cannot expect to do as well as those who regularly access the site. Information sent via the Moodle site and your USQ email will be regarded as being receivable. [Note, other accounts often have more limited sized mail boxes, are not accessible when the USQ external connection is down and may not always remain open throughout your candidature].

  4. Students can reasonably expect that certain aspects of the assignments in this course will require existing knowledge of research methods and statistical analyses, as well as access to appropriate statistical software. This includes knowledge contained in recommended USQ pre-requisite courses such as Foundation Psychology B, Data Analysis, and Research Methods A. Students who do not possess such knowledge and applied skills should not expect to do as well in this course as those who have acquired them.

  5. APA 6th edition style is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use APA style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The APA style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide. //