• Offered by School of Philosophy
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Philosophy
  • Areas of interest Philosophy

This course investigates some key issues about the nature of cognitive processes. We will be looking at questions in three broad areas.

1 - The architecture of the mind: 

• Which of our cognitive capacities are innate and which are learned?

• Are thoughts in a kind of language?

• How can neuron activity tell us about "thinking";


2 - The impact of science on our intuitive understanding of thinking: 

• How do our notions of beliefs and desires fit into a scientific view?

• Do we act rationally?

• What role do emotions play in our thoughts?


3 - The mind's place in the world: 

• Can chimps, birds, or colonies of bacteria think?

• What can evolution tell us about our the way we think and behave?

• Does cognition happen solely in the brain, or can we usefully understand it as "extended" to include the body and environment?

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand and articulate some of the prominent issues faced when trying to explain how our cognitive capacities work.
  2. Challenge and assess the common intuitions we have regarding how our own cognitive capacities in work in the light of scientific evidence.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of what features might make human cognition special, and what features it might share with other animals or machines.
  4. Engage in philosophical discussion and debate, verbalising their interpretations and criticisms of the various ideas discussed throughout the course.

Indicative Assessment

• Tutorial participation and presentation (10%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3 and 4]

• Research paper 1, 2000 words (40%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3 and 4]

• Research paper 2, 2500 words (50%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3 and 4]

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• 2 hrs lectures (26 hours total)

• 1 hour of tutorial (12 tutorials total)

• 7 hours of independent reading per week plus preparation of assessment tasks.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 12 Units of Philosophy (PHIL) Courses, or by permission of course convenor. Other eligible criteria includes 6 Units of Philosophy (PHIL) Courses plus completion of MATH1042.

Prescribed Texts

Any relevant materials will be outlined on the Wattle site.




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $2604
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $3576
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9412 18 Jul 2016 29 Jul 2016 31 Aug 2016 28 Oct 2016 In Person N/A

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