Psychology

Psychology is the scientific study of emotion, thought and behaviour, often with a specific emphasis on the study of human beings but with significant references to animal behaviour as well.  As such, psychology addresses issues such as how our brains function, why we do the things we do, how we become the persons that we are, and why it is that sometimes people may behave in seemingly unusual or even bizarre ways.  Psychology is relevant to everything that humans do and has strong links to other disciplines in the liberal arts, including social sciences, natural sciences and humanities.

The Psychology major at Yale-NUS is designed both to provide an overview of the discipline as well as to encourage students to delve more deeply into specific aspects of psychology such as human development, social behaviour, how our brains work and the application of psychology to questions of mental and physical health. Students can enter psychology from either Foundations Of Science or Integrated Science. At the end of their course, students in the Psychology major will have gained an understanding of various aspects of human behaviour as well as skills in the methodologies by which human behaviour can be scientifically studied. As such, they will be prepared for doing advanced study in psychology and related disciplines as well as professions in both the public and private sector that are concerned with understanding and managing human behaviour, including social work, health issues, or personnel management in business organisations.

The study of Psychology will be pursued through lectures, seminars, laboratory courses, and independent study that may include empirical research. In this way, students will explore the classic findings of psychological research and associated theories, while also being involved in the development of a better understanding of various psychological phenomena. Laboratory courses will engage students in the quest for new findings to expand psychology’s base of knowledge. Students will be actively involved in research as well as in classroom activities.

STRUCTURE

All Psychology majors are required to take at least 50 modular credits (MC) (Class of 2017 and Class of 2018) or 54-55 modular credits (Class of 2019 onwards) within the major including a capstone project worth 10 MC.  Required courses include:

• Understanding Behaviour And Cognition
• Statistics And Research Methods For Psychology
• At least one laboratory course

As part of their studies, students will take Understanding Behaviour And Cognition as an introductory course providing an overview of the field of psychology. Understanding Behaviour And Cognition also serves as a gateway course for more advanced courses. In addition they will be required to take Statistics And Research Methods For Psychology, at least one laboratory course and more specialised courses providing in-depth coverage of various subareas of the discipline. Courses on offer will include those concerned with how human beings develop as individuals and social beings, the nature of our social relationships, how we interact with the world around us, and how our brains process information. Other courses will explore the ways in which behaviour can become disordered and the techniques that can be used to help people with psychological and behavioural abnormalities. Although there are no formal specialisations in the Psychology major, students can choose to take courses in specific areas of interest to form their own specialisations.

COURSES

Understanding Behaviour And Cognition

This course will introduce students to themselves and others as viewed through the lens of psychology. We will present and explore the scientific study of human (and animal) behaviour, seeking to understand why we think, feel, and act as we do. The goal is to build a firm foundation for those wishing to major in psychology while simultaneously providing an interesting and revealing elective to those visiting psychology on their way to other disciplines.

Statistics And Research Methods For Psychology

This course is concerned with research methods and the use of statistics in psychology. As such, this is a skills-oriented course aimed at preparing students for taking the required laboratory course in psychology as well as doing their capstone project. We will be covering research methods and statistics simultaneously since they are closely intertwined.  Prerequisite: Quantitative Reasoning

Introduction To Neuroscience (cross-listed with Life Sciences)

The course provides an introduction to the nervous system, with a particular emphasis on the structure and function of the human brain. Topics include the anatomy and function of nerve cells, sensory systems, and the brain as a whole, as well as exploration of the neural basis of learning, memory, perception, reward, emotion, social thinking, and the control of movement. Diseases of the nervous system and neuropharmacology will also be discussed. The course serves as a gateway to related upper-level courses within the Psychology major, including Computational Explorations Of Cognition, Images Of The Mind, and the Behavioural Neuroscience Lab.

Cognitive Psychology

This course introduces students to the study of how the mind works, seeking to understand how sensory information is transformed, stored, retrieved, or used. Although primarily focused on psychological approaches to understanding cognition (as mental information processing), it will also connect to relevant approaches within neuroscience, linguistics, philosophy, and computer science. Topics and processes to be explored include attention, language, learning, memory, perception, reasoning, emotion, and action.  Prerequisite: Understanding Behaviour And Cognition

Images Of The Mind

There have been many recent advances in our ability to explore the relationship between the brain, cognition, and behaviour. Perhaps none has so captivated the public as much as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), which allows researchers to infer the patterns of brain activity associated with a given task. In this course, we will consider how fMRI has been used to explore various cognitive processes–e.g. attention, memory, perception, emotion, and social reasoning–and where its use raises profound ethical questions, such as “mind reading” or psychiatric diagnosis. In addition, we will discuss the complementary contributions of lesion work, electroencephalography (EEG), neuropsycho-pharmacology, computational models, and positron emission tomography (PET), with a particular focus on the influence of technological progress on the types of questions researchers address.  Prerequisite: Introduction To Neuroscience

Personality And Individual Differences

In this course, we will be exploring the various ways in which people differ from each other and some of the theories that have been proposed to account for these differences and for the overall nature of human beings.  As such, this course will explore both the theories and empirical evidence related to what makes us the people that we are.  Prerequisite: Understanding Behaviour And Cognition

Social Psychology

Humans are known as social animals for a reason. There is no part of our lives that is not influenced in one way or another by our social interactions. In this course, we will be exploring the ways in which we are influenced by our social environment, how we influence others, how we think about social situations, how we related to other people and the implications for understanding human behaviour. Prerequisite: Understanding Behaviour And Cognition

Human Sexuality

In this course, we will be investigating human sexuality in all of its diversity. We will begin with some theoretical aspects of the study of human sexuality and then go on to considering sexual anatomy, conception, contraception, sexual arousal, sexuality across the lifespan, issues related to love and attraction, sexual orientation, sexual disorders and sexuality transmitted diseases as well as the relationship of ethics, religion and law to sexuality.

Laboratory In Health Psychology

This is a skills-based course concerned with research methods in health psychology, which is concerned with the application of psychological methods and theory to issues related to physical health. As a part of this, topics covered will include the various methods used in health psychology research, the practical mechanics of doing research studies as well as the collection, analysis and write-up of data. Following discussion of different methods in health psychology, students will be doing group projects which may be done either through collection of questionnaire data or an experiment in the Psychology Lab.  Prerequisite: Understanding Behaviour And Cognition and Statistics and Research Methods For Psychology

Laboratory In Neurobiology Of Behaviour (cross-listed with Life Sciences)

This course explores the scientific investigation of animal and human behaviour. It will do so using human behavioural experiments, animal models, and computer simulations of learning, memory, attention and cognition. Practical considerations of gathering, analysing, and reporting data will also be discussed. Prerequisite: Introduction To Neuroscience

CAPSTONE

The Psychology major will culminate in a year-long capstone experience when students will be able to work closely with one or more faculty members within psychology and related disciplines, in which they will conduct original research using appropriate methodologies, with the goal of producing findings that add to our understanding of a specific psychological topic. Sample capstone project topics would include topics in learning and memory, intergroup relations, aspects of abnormal behaviour, child development and the impact of psychological stress. Although empirical work is strongly encouraged, other approaches to the capstone will be considered on a case by case basis.

MINOR

Students may take a minor in Psychology by taking Understanding Behaviour And Cognition, Statistics and Research Methods For Psychology and at least three additional courses of their choice.