Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

HPSC5450M Perspectives on Mind, Brain & Society

30 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Dr. Mike Finn

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is mutually exclusive with

HPSC3450Mind, Brain & Society

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

In taking this module, students will explore the history of psychology and neuroscience in a broad perspective. This will involve examining a range of both past and present attempts to explain the human mind and nature; and considering not only how these ideas reflected particular values of their time, but how they in turn permeated and shaped wider society. From the provision of education, welfare and mental health services, to the development of advertising, academia and identity politics, the module will consider how theories of mind and brain have influenced the way we understand ourselves and organise our society.Students will participate in a series of lectures and seminars that involve UG and PGT students being taught together, where they will engage with the core subjects and a wide range of sources that inform the module. They will, in addition, take part in PGT-only seminars led by the module leader in which students will identify topics and questions of particular interest, and on which they will then engage in further directed reading and discussion.


The module aims to:

- Help students recognise key developments in understanding of mind and brain since the 17th century, and to understand how these are a product of different social, political and intellectual milieus
- Allow students to develop awareness of critical responses to scientific and social practices based on psychological knowledge, and to develop their own critical understanding of these practices, both in historical case studies and in reflecting on contemporary society
- Support students in engaging with writers from a variety of disciplinary and social backgrounds, and to reflect on the wide influence of psychological language and theory in a range of intellectual and political debates
- Provide students with the understanding and guidance to develop their own original research on the history of mind, brain & society, and to challenge and move beyond previous work in the field.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module, students will demonstrate:

1. An understanding of developments in the mind and brain sciences in the modern period, and an awareness of major themes and approaches represented in current historical analysis of the human sciences;
2. Recognition of the ways in which scientific, medical and technical knowledge of human nature has shaped, and been shaped by specific social, political and economic developments since the 17th century;
3. Advanced skills in analysing major themes and interpretations within extant historical literature on mind and brain (i.e. feminist, post-structural, post-colonial, etc), and recognising gaps, errors and biases within these works.
4. An ability to identify and analyse historical primary source materials relating to mind and brain, and to make use of these in original research;
5. An ability to develop research methodologies and historical arguments to produce written work of independence and originality in the history of the human sciences.


Rather than focussing on a narrow range of approaches that are traditionally considered part of the history of psychology, this module takes a broad perspective, and considers episodes or developments in history where conceptions of mind and brain are embedded in, and profoundly influential upon, wider social, political and economic issues. The range of topics included stretches from the 17th century to the present day, though with particular focus on the ‘modern’ era. Topics that may be covered in the module include (but are not limited to):

- Philosophical conceptions of human nature in the early-modern and modern period, especially where these pertain to political and social concerns;
- The scientific study and classification of human psychology in the 19th century, including its relationship to ideas of race, gender and class;
- Public responses to, and rejection of, scientific psychology in the 19th and 20th centuries;
- The role of psychological thinking in the development of consumer culture;
- The role of warfare in shaping human behaviour and psychological practices;
- The role of psychology in shaping understanding of childhood and education;
- The relationship between the state and the mental health of its citizens;
- The relationship between psychological or neuro-scientific theories and wider conceptions of identity, including race, gender and sexuality.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours276.00
Total Contact hours24.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Outside of formal meetings, students should expect to spend their time in private study as follows:

Weekly reading and preparation for seminars: 10 x 9 = 90 hours
Reading and preparation for tutorials: 3 x 12 = 36 hours
Research and preparation for essay supervision: 20 hours
Research and preparation for project report supervision: 40 hours
Further research and writing for essay: 30 hours:
Further research and writing for project report: 60 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Formative feedback will be given:

1. In weekly, hour-long seminars, where the module leader will respond to student questions and support understanding based on the module content and readings.
2. In three focused tutorials, where the module leader will provide directed reading and discussion, respond to student questions, and provide feedback on student understanding
3. In a one-to-one supervision (30 mins), where the module leader will comment and provide guidance and feedback on an essay plan submitted by the student in Semester 2, Week 5.
4. In a second one-to-one supervision (30 mins), where the module leader will comment and provide guidance and feedback on a project report plan submitted by the student in Semester 2, Week 9.

Student progress will be monitored:

5. Through submission of a 2,000 word essay submitted in Semester 2, Week 8, on which feedback will be provided.
6. Through submission of a 4,000 word report submitted in Semester 2, Week 13, on which feedback will be provided.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay(2000 words)35.00
Report(4000 word project report)65.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:44:02


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019