• Offered by Research School of Computer Science
  • ANU College ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Course subject Computer Science
  • Areas of interest Computer Science, Information Technology
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course

The human brain is an extremely complex system able to learn to perform a wide range of intelligent behaviours. In this course the brain is considered from the perspective of how to understand a very complex system and also for guidance on to how to design an artificial general intelligence system.


Students will learn how to approach understanding of complex functional systems by means of descriptions on many different levels of detail which can be mapped into each other. These skills are needed to understand, design and modify very complex electronic systems. This approach will be applied to understanding human cognitive phenomena in terms of brain anatomy, physiology and chemistry. Comparisons will be made between learning in the brain and in current artificial neural networks.


The course covers A. How very complex systems can be understood; B. The major human cognitive processes; C. The anatomy, physiology and chemistry of the brain; D. The information process architecture of the brain; E. Differences between the brain and current artificial neural networks. F. Hierarchies of description for understanding cognitive phenomena in terms of brain anatomy, physiology and chemistry.


The course will be relevant to students interested in designing complex functional systems and general artificial intelligence systems. The descriptions of the human brain and approaches to understanding make the course relevant to students interested in research on the mammal brain, and students interested in medical studies of the human brain.

Learning Outcomes

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

By the end of this course you should be able to:

  1.  Identify what is necessary to understand a complex system
  2. Describe the primary information processing functions of major anatomical and physiological structures in the brain.
  3. Explain the operation of a range of major human memory and other cognitive processes on several different but consistent levels of detail from psychology to physiology.
  4. Identify ways in which any cognitive process can be understood in terms of physiological and anatomical mechanisms.
  5. Describe how the brain differs from current artificial neural network applications

Indicative Assessment

  • Assignments (30%)
  • Mid term exam (10%)
  • Final exam (60%)

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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30 one hour lectures 9 one hour tutorials

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 12 units of 2000 level COMP courses or 12 units of 2000 level PSYC courses. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have successfully completed COMP6365.

Prescribed Texts

Towards a Theoretical Neuroscience: from cell chemistry to cognition by L. Andrew Coward


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
2020 $4320
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5760
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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There are no current offerings for this course.

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