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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PSYC3541 Face Perception

15 creditsClass Size: 70

Module manager: Dr Richard Harris

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Pre-requisite qualifications

Successful completion of all pass for progression modules in Level 2 of: BSc Psychology or MPsyc, BSc Advanced Psychology or BA Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Thought (and its International and Industrial variants)

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The human face has such important biological and social functions that several regions of the brain are involved in processing information from faces. Indeed, we are expert perceivers of faces able to make sophisticated judgements about them - for example using subtle cues from head shape and skin texture when estimating age. A universally important locus of communication, our faces convey a range of social signals. We use faces to identify friends and acquaintances, to detect family resemblances, and to judge attractiveness on the basis of facial features. Complementary perspectives (usually cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, but also including neuropsychological, evolutionary, biological, and computational approaches) will be used to explore these topics in detail, with a particular focus on applied issues, to show how the science of face perception can inform us about what happens when we look at faces.


This module aims to provide students with an understanding of the application of experimental psychology to an area of high intrinsic interest and practical relevance, face perception. Students will gain insight into the factors affecting the application of experimental evidence and laboratory techniques to the understanding of face perception. Students will see how data, techniques, and theory drawn from different disciplines (psychology, neurology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, computer science) can converge to enhance our understanding of face processing.

Learning outcomes
After completing this module students are expected to be able to:

- Demonstrate in-depth understanding of the theoretical developments in face perception
- Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the biological, social and evolutionary factors involved in face perception
- Demonstrate an understanding of the various methodologies used in understanding face perception and critically discuss how different disciplines can contribute to our understanding of face perception
- Critically discuss the application of face perception research to real world scenarios and the problems associated with how the research has been applied
- Communicate Face Perception theory and its relevance to society to a general audience

Skills outcomes
Students will have the opportunity to select, critically evaluate and apply published research in the field of face perception. They will become knowledgeable in how complementary approaches can be used to understand how faces are perceived.


The module will include 9 x 30 min lectures, 7 x 1.5 hour group learning sessions, 2 x 1 hour tutorials on podcasting for a general audience. Group discussion seminars will make use of the University's new collaborative teaching spaces to facilitate group discussion.

The module will cover the following topics:
- What makes faces special? Is face processing innate? Is the brain specialised for face processing?
- Facial attractiveness
- How do we process facial expressions?
- How do we recognise faces?
- How do faces become familiar?
- Face perception and autism
- Judgements of social characteristics from faces
- Other race effect and Eye witness testimony

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Group learning71.5010.50
Independent online learning hours4.50
Private study hours133.00
Total Contact hours12.50
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Independent online learning: 9 x 30 minute pre-recorded lectures.
Private study:
Preparation and completion of reflective log. 75 hours
Preparation and completion of podcast: 50 hours
Completion of the podcast proposal: 8 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will be provided with formative feedback during the group teaching sessions
Podcast proposal – students will submit a podcast proposal which outlines what will be discussed in the podcast.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Reflective logMax 1,500 words60.00
AssignmentPodcast (max 20 minute duration). Students have to communicate 2 topics to a general audience40.00
AssignmentPodcast proposal0.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

For the coursework podcast students will be required to create a podcast. As this will be a novel task, students’ will be given examples of good science podcasts and this coursework will be further supported with two tutorials where the challenges of communicating scientific findings to general audience will be discussed. 10% of the 40% weighting for the podcast will be peer assessment. Resit will take the same format.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/06/2021 15:21:45


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