Honours Seminars: Expanded descriptions Fall 2016, Winter 2017, and Spring 2017

Definitions of requisites for enrolment

  • Antirequisite: When two courses are listed as antirequisites, this means that there is too much overlap between the two courses to allow credit towards the degree for both courses.
  • Corequisite: A course that is named as a corequisite for another course must be taken before or at the same time as the course for which it is listed as the corequisite.
  • Prerequisite: A course that must be successfully completed before taking the current requested course.

Enrolment in honours seminars

Review the honours seminars for the coming year including expanded course descriptions and requisites for enrolment:

PSYCH 420 (Winter 2017)
An Introduction to Computational Neuroscience Research Methods

Instructor: Britt Anderson

Enrolment limit: 25

See the PSYCH 420 course description in the undergraduate calendar.

Expanded Course Description

Computational neuroscience uses mathematical and computational methods  to develop, explore, and test theories and models in neuroscience.

Intended audience for this course: students with computational training, but limited knowledge of neuroscience and psychology, or students from psychology with limited computational or mathematical training.

This course is intended to give students from both backgrounds an introduction to the computational material and how they can be used to address psychological and neuroscience topics. The course involves a gentle series of computational and programming exercises. Some of the early work is done with spreadsheet based exercises, but the goal is to gradually move to some beginning programming with the Python programming language. While this expectation can create some hesitancy, several prior offerings have demonstrated that all Psychology students can excel if they are willing to commit to learning this increasingly important skill. There is ample instructor support for this process. Students already comfortable with a particular computer programming language are free to use that. If you want more detail regarding the level of difficulty of PSYCH 420, please see student comments provided below as well as contact the instructor.

Final projects are planned and will represent a significant contribution to the final grade. 

Requirements for enrolment

  • Prerequisites: Level at least 3A Honours Psychology students or permission of instructor, Psych average of 74% or higher.
  • Antirequisite: PSYCH 463 taken Winter 2009 and Winter 2010

Student comments regarding PSYCH 420

This course is not as scary as it sounds! I do not know any computer  languages nor did I take any math courses in university, but Dr. Anderson was extremely helpful in making sure everyone understood the concepts. I took this course only because Dr. Anderson was teaching it. He is always willing to help and is able to communicate very complicated material in a way that non-math students can understand. The material of the course also gave me a completely different perspective and approach to psychology research not taught in other courses.
- Cynthia (Winter 2009)

This course is great for people of different experience levels, from those with no programming or math background to those who have dabbled in them before. Dr. Anderson tailors the course to individual experience levels and provides an excellent mix of lecture, discussion and hands on experience. He also makes sure to be available to aid students with conceptual or programming questions. The course material is presented in a very straightforward and easy to understand manner. I would highly recommend this course for students who have an interest in the area but are uncertain of exactly what it is or how they can be involved in it.
- Neethan (Winter 2010)

"The true benefit of PSYCH 420 is exposing students to the different ways of thinking present in modern neuroscience. Those in psychology and biology are exposed to methods of quantification and computation which have exploded, in the last couple of decades, in the theoretical neuroscience field. Those in computer science and mathematics are given an informative introduction on scientific concepts and experimental results. All of this is gently introduced, and students are permitted to use Excel to complete all the assignments. However, Britt (and I) encourage students to start to learning, or relearning, that programming language that they have been putting off. I also thoroughly enjoyed the historical lessons in the course, such as those on cell pioneers Hodgkin and Huxley. The textbook being written by Professor Anderson is an excellent supplement (and extension) to the course material."
Lawrence
 (Winter 2013)

PSYCH 451 (Fall 2016)
Honours seminar - Child and Adolescent Psychopathology

No extended description available.  See the undergraduate calendar for the course description and requisites for enrolment. Note in particular the antirequisites.

Instructor: Maureen Drysdale

Enrolment limit: 25

See priority enrolment for Honours Seminars.

Requirements for enrolment:

  • Prereq: PSYCH 317; Honours Psychology or Make-Up Psychology only; Psychology average at least 74%.
  • Coreq: PSYCH 391.
  • Antireq: PSYCH 463 taken Fall 2012, Winter 2014 (section 002), Fall 2014 developmental psychology.

PSYCH 453 (Fall 2016)
Honours seminar in developmental psychology
Specific topic: Language and social disadvantage

Instructor: Daniela O'Neill

Enrolment limit: 25

See the PSYCH 420 course description in the undergraduate calendar.

Expanded course description

What factors impact children’s language development, both positively and negatively, among children growing up in more socially and economically disadvantaged situations? This is the question we will explore in depth in this course via primary readings in relevant fields and group projects that will take you out into community locations to think about these issues from a more applied and experiential perspective.

The issue of accounting for differences in early language ability observed among children is extremely complex. Whether the differences noted in research studies are best interpreted as individual differences, differences in styles of talk, differences in parental attitudes and beliefs, and/or differences due to socio-economic deprivation has provoked much discussion and argument among researchers. But the issue of why some children are far behind other children with respect to language development, particularly upon the age of school entry, is of great importance in many countries around the world who seek to assure that all children receive the best start they can and develop to their full potential, especially with respect to educational attainment.

Three in-depth projects will be conducted individually or in small groups over the term and portions of class time will be devoted to work sessions guided by advice and feedback to students by the instructor. Topics explored will include seminal and recent work investigating child and parent-child interactions in different socio-economic and cultural groups; examination of variables such as maternal education level and SES; discussion of different theoretical approaches to explain variability observed among children; and possible differences between the language of home and school.

Requirements for enrolment

  • Prerequisites: all of PSYCH 211, 291, 292; enrolment in Honours Psychology or Make-up Psychology, Psych average of 74% or higher.
  • Corequisite: PSYCH 391

See priority enrolment for honours seminars.

PSYCH 453 001 (Winter 2017)
Honours seminar in developmental psychology
Specific topic: Social Media and Adolescent Brain Development

Instructor: Kathleen Bloom

Enrolment Limit: 25

See the PSYCH 453 course description in the undergraduate calendar.

Expanded course description

Over the past 25 years scientists have been discovering a set of systematic and dynamic changes that take place in the adolescent brain. Their message is that the adolescent brain is remarkably “plastic” and still “under construction.” Adolescent brain structuring is significantly influenced by experience and can be relatively enduring. New neuroscience helps to explain why adolescence is a time of great opportunity and a time of great risks.

Coincidently, 25 years ago the World Wide Web was born giving public access to the Internet, and then online platforms on which adolescents and others can create their own internet worlds. In this course we will read, analyse, and discuss research on the convergence of adolescent brain developments and internet-based social networking (social media). We will try to link the reciprocal impacts of social media to the structural and chemical activity in the adolescent brain. In doing so we will consider why social media is seen by some as detrimental to adolescence and by others as a vehicle for positive social development and change, both societal and personal.

Topics will span areas of contemporary research on social media and adolescence such as victimization, activism, relationship-building, emotional-regulation, self-disclosure, marketing, self-presentation, social capital, and so forth. Social media interventions for physical and mental health may also be examined. Students will be able to explore and discuss areas of research relating to their special interests in social media and adolescence.

Requirements for enrolment

  • Prerequisites: all of PSYCH 211, 291, 292; enrolment in Honours Psychology or Make-up Psychology, Psych average of 74% or higher
  • Corequisite:  PSYCH 391

See priority enrolment for honours seminars.

PSYCH 453 002 (Winter 2017)
Honours seminar in developmental psychology
Specific topic: Socialization in Childhood: Parents versus peers

Instructor: Heather Henderson

Enrolment limit: 25

See the PSYCH 453 course description in the undergraduate calendar.

Expanded course description

There is no question that parents play a critical role in supporting physical, cognitive, and social development in early childhood. But what happens in later childhood and adolescence when children’s social worlds expand to include close friends and larger peer groups?

Do peers take the place of parents as primary socialization agents or do parents and peers play complementary roles in shaping children’s development. What normative changes take place in how, why, where and when children and adolescents interact with parents versus peers? How do the quality and quantity of interactions with parents and peers contribute to adaptive versus maladaptive developmental trajectories?

In this class, we will address these question by reading and discussing papers spanning multiple areas including cultural psychology, behavioral neuroscience, educational psychology, social psychology, and developmental psychology.

Requirements for enrolment

  • Prerequisites: all of PSYCH 211, 291, 292; enrolment in Honours Psychology or Make-up Psychology, Psych average of 74% or higher
  • Corequisite:  PSYCH 391

See priority enrolment for honours seminars.

PSYCH 457 (Fall 2016)
Honours seminar in personality and clinical psychology
Specific topic: Anxiety disorders

Instructor: Christine Purdon

Enrolment limit: 25

See the PSYCH 457 course description in the undergraduate calendar.

Expanded course description

This course will examine current research on the phenomenology, development, and persistence of anxiety disorders, as understood from a cognitive/learning perspective. We will first look at general learning and cognitive processes in anxiety with a particular focus on attention. We will then examine the phenomenology of specific anxiety disorders including:

  • panic disorder,
  • generalized anxiety disorder,
  • social phobia,
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder, and
  • post-traumatic stress disorder,

as well as models for their development and persistence.

Treatment will be mentioned in class, but will not be a primary focus of the course.

Requirements for enrolment

  • Prerequisites: all of PSYCH 257/257R (or 323R), 291, 292; enrolment in Honours Psychology or Make-up Psychology, Psych average of 74% or higher.
  • Corequisite:  PSYCH 391

See priority enrolment for honours seminars.

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PSYCH 458 (Fall 2016)
Honours Seminar in Cognition
Specific Topic: Psychology of Economic Decisions

Instructor: Derek Koehler

Enrolment limit: 25

See the PSYCH 458 course description in the undergraduate calendar.

Expanded course description

Throughout our lives we are faced with difficult economic decisions, both major (selecting a pension plan) and minor (buying a televison). How do people make such decisions, and are there ways in which their decisions could be improved? Psychologists and economists have developed an increasingly sophisticated and influential depiction of the processes by which people make choices under conditions of uncertainty and conflicting objectives. This research field is sometimes referred to as behavioural economics. 

This seminar provides a survey of recent research on the psychology of economic decision making, with an emphasis on the ways in which people's financial decisions systematically deviate from those expected under a 'rational', economic analysis.

Each week we will read and discuss three original research articles on a common topic, with a focus on generating new research ideas based on the work reported in the articles.

Requirements for enrolment

  • Prerequisites: all of PSYCH 207, 291, 292; enrolment in Honours Psychology or Make-up Psychology, Psych average of 74% or higher
  • Corequisite: PSYCH 391

PSYCH 458 (Spring 2017) Honours Seminar in Cognition: Hot topics in cognition and cognitive neuropsychology

​Instructor: Derek Besner

Enrolment limit: 25

See the PSYCH 459 course description in the undergraduate calendar.

Expanded course description

We will examine in some detail a relatively small number of papers that span a variety of topics in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuropsychology with the aim of illustrating some fascinating (and sometimes bizarre) phenomena which in fact can often be understood in simple terms. These include but are not limited to:

  • the relation between Capgras syndrome (in which the patient insists someone close to them [such as a spouse] is an imposter), and prosopagnosia (a face recognition deficit),
  • the most important and recently published paper in the last 100 years on a particular form of acquired alexia termed "alexia without agraphia",
  • anosognosia (in one form a patient who is paralyzed on one side denies that her arm belongs to her),
  • hypnosis phenomena which challenge a long standing and central idea in cognitive psychology.

Requisites for enrolment: 

  • Prerequisites: PSYCH 207, 291, 292; enrolment in Honours Psychology or Make-up Psychology, Psych average of 74% or higher
  • Corequisite: PSYCH 391

PSYCH 459 (Winter 2017)
Honours Seminar in Close Relationships

Instructor: John Rempel

Enrolment limit: 25

See the PSYCH 459 course description in the undergraduate calendar.

Expanded course description

No extended description available. See the undergraduate calendar for the course description and requisites for enrolment. Note in particular the antirequisites.

Requisites for enrolment

  • Prerequisites: PSYCH 354/354R or (PSYCH 253/253R and SMF 306), 291, 292; enrolment in Honours Psychology or Make-up Psychology, Psych average at least 74%
  • Corequisite: PSYCH 391
  • Antireq: PSYCH 448R; PSYCH 450R taken W'10 or W'13; PSYCH 455 taken F'11 (sec 001), F'13 (sec 001), W'15.

PSYCH 461 (Fall 2016)
Honours Seminar in Cognitive Neuroscience
Specific Topic: Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory

Instructor: Myra Fernandes

Enrolment limit: 25

See the PSYCH 461 course description in the undergraduate calendar.

Expanded description

Memory is intimately involved in most, if not all, domains of human cognition, from the ability to temporarily remember a phone number to the acquisition of language, to defining who we are. This course will consider the cognitive and neural organization of memory, the basis of remembering and forgetting, and the nature of false memories, with an emphasis on the consequences of brain changes associated with normal and pathological aging. Throughout, cognitive theory and behavioural evidence will be integrated with data from neuropsychology and functional brain imaging. By reviewing and discussing classic and current research using these methods, and their findings, students will develop an understanding of how cognitive neuroscience informs current theories of memory function.

Requisites for enrolment

  • Prerequisites: all of PSYCH 261, 291, 292; enrolment in Honours Psychology or Make-up Psychology, Psych average of 74% or higher
  • Corequisite: PSYCH 391

PSYCH 462 (Winter 2017)
Honours Seminar in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Specific Topic: Leadership in the Workplace

Instructor: Winny Shen

Enrolment limit: 25

See the PSYCH 462 course description in the undergraduate calendar.

Expanded description

There is no question that leaders play a major role in our working lives. A good leader can make going to work a joy, and a bad leader can lead one to leave an otherwise desirable job. In this course, we will explore our understanding of leadership from a psychological lens. To this end, each week we will read and discuss research articles in order to generate new research questions about the nature and practice of leadership.

Examples of questions we will seek to answer over the course of the term include:

  • Are managers the same as leaders?
  • Are leaders born or made?
  • What do effective and ineffective leaders do?
  • How do leaders influence followers?
  • Why do we pay so much attention to leaders?
  • How do we become better leaders?
  • What are the unique challenges faced by non-traditional leaders (e.g., women, racial/ethnic minorities)?  

Requisites for enrolment

  • Prerequisites: one of PSYCH 238/338, AFM 280, MSCI 211; both 291 and 292; enrolment in Honours Psychology or Make-up Psychology, Psych average of 74% or higher
  • Corequisite: PSYCH 391

Last updated:  Sept 15, 2016