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PS355-15 Attention

Undergraduate Level 3
Module leader
Melina Kunar
Credit value
Module duration
12 weeks
33% coursework, 67% exam
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

The aim of this module is to provide a broad understanding of attention, why we need it, how it works and what happens when it breaks down.

Module web page

Module aims

The aim of this module is to provide a broad understanding of attention, why we need it, how it works and what happens when it breaks down. Topics include how we can select just a few items among many; whether we select the items themselves or the locations they occupy; whether there are some items that we cannot help but attend; how attention can be affected by brain damage; how we can sometimes fail to see items that appear right in front of our eyes; and how we use modern brain-scanning techniques to investigate attention.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

1 Introduction
2 Perceptual load and Attention
3 The Control of Attention
4 Spatial versus Object-based Attention
5 Unilateral Neglect
6 Divided Attention
7 Visual Search
8 Visual Search and Memory
9 The Limits of Attention
10 Brain Imaging Techniques Within Attention
11 Revision
12 Revision

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Critically evaluate the ‘classical’ attention paradigms (such as Inhibition of Return and Negative Priming etc.) along with some more recent experimental paradigms
  • Critically evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of multiple brain scanning techniques used to investigate attention, with examples of how each technique has been used in research.
  • Critically evaluate the evidence for and against several main theories of attention.
  • Critically evaluate theories showing why attention is impaired after brain lesions, as well as critically evaluating theories showing normal temporal and spatial limits of attention.
  • Critically evaluate theories of how we use attention to help us search and relate to the visual environment.
Indicative reading list

Styles, E. A. (1997). The psychology of attention. Psychology Press Ltd.
Pashler, H. (1998). Attention. Psychology Press Ltd.
Wright, R. D. (1998). Visual attention. Oxford University Press
Shapiro, K. (2001). The limits of attention: Temporal constraints in human information processing.
Oxford University Press
Reisburg, D. (1997). Cognition. Norton
Humphreys, G. (1989). Visual cognition. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Ltd

View reading list on Talis Aspire

Subject specific skills

Understanding of the main theories of attention
Understanding of temporal and spacial limits of attention
Evaluation of experimental paradigms
Evaluation of different brain scanning techniques

Transferable skills

Critically evaluation of evidence and research
Effective communication skills to develop a cogent argument supported by relevant evidence and being sensitive to the needs and expectations of an audience
Familiarity with collecting and organising stored information found in library book and journal collections
effective personal planning skills

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 12 sessions of 2 hours (16%)
Seminars 10 sessions of 1 hour (7%)
Private study 116 hours (77%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

116 hours Guided Student Study.


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group D5
Weighting Study time
Essay 33%
Online Examination 67%

~Platforms - AEP

  • Online examination: No Answerbook required
Feedback on assessment

assessed via annotated copy and academic guidance form; exam performance via personal \r\ntutor or online.

Past exam papers for PS355


This module is Optional for:

  • Year 3 of UPSA-C800 Undergraduate Psychology
  • Year 4 of UPSA-C801 Undergraduate Psychology (with Intercalated year)
  • Year 3 of UPSA-C804 Undergraduate Psychology with Education Studies
  • Year 4 of UPSA-C806 Undergraduate Psychology with Education Studies (with Intercalated Year)

This module is Option list A for:

  • Year 3 of UPSA-C804 Undergraduate Psychology with Education Studies

This module is Option list B for:

  • Year 3 of UPHA-VL78 BA in Philosophy with Psychology
  • Year 4 of UPHA-VL79 BA in Philosophy with Psychology (with Intercalated year)
  • Year 1 of TPSS-C8P9 Postgraduate Taught Psychological Research

This module is Option list C for:

  • Year 3 of UPSA-C802 Undergraduate Psychology with Linguistics