Course Outline

Cognitive Science





   Teaching Staff    Course  Description    Lectures    Tutorials
   Text    Assessment    Advice    Assistance




Lecturer:                 Dr Deborah Brown

Room:                     1 – 338

Phone:                    3365 2804         


Consultation:        Wednesday 10-12 or by appointment.


Tutor:                     Dr Stephen Watson

Room:                     1 – E315

Phone:                    3365 2620              


Consultation:        Tuesday 5-6pm.


Note: please enter the subject heading ‘COGS1000’ in all email correspondence.


Consultation Hours: If the above consultation hours are inconvenient for you, do not hesitate to contact me by telephone or email to arrange a meeting.





Course Overview


There is a pervasive assumption in both popular culture and the cognitive sciences that what we call ‘the mind’ is something that with enough ingenuity and technology we should be able to replicate in a mechanical system. This course examines the philosophical assumptions underlying the program of artificial intelligence by asking questions such as ‘What is a machine?’ ‘What is thinking?’ Could a machine think? ‘What does consciousness have to do with thinking?’


Course Aims and Objectives


The aims of this course are: to provide students with a comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of basic problems in philosophy of mind and cognitive science, to develop their capacity to identify and evaluate arguments and to engage in original and independent research, while promoting their ability to communicate ideas philosophically. These aims will be pursued through reading material representative of the current debate and through continuous assessment. Emphasis will be placed on developing a clear understanding of the issues and arguments and refining ideas prior to and in preparation for the writing of essays and exams. Tutorials will be designed to promote the development of skills in philosophical analysis through in-class analysis of specified texts and practice tests.










Not taught





St Lucia



Lectures commence in Week 1 of semester. Lecture notes will be made available through the course homepage each week. They are not comprehensive enough to substitute for attendance at lectures.





Attendance at tutorials is compulsory. Tutorials commence in the second week of semester:








Not taught






St Lucia

26/07, 25/10






St Lucia

26/07, 25/10






St Lucia

26/07, 25/10






St Lucia

26/07, 25/10


Tutorials commence in the second week of semester. Students can enrol through Si-net.

Discussion and debate are important aspects of philosophical inquiry. Tutorials are designed to give you the opportunity to discuss and work through lecture material in a more relaxed and personal environment. Tutorial Participation will be graded (10% of overall mark). This reflects the value placed on these important opportunities to pursue course material in greater depth, to see philosophy "being done" by dialogue with your tutors and fellow students, and to find out more about areas of the course that you find unclear or which seem interesting to you. Remember, tutorials are your chance to use teaching staff as your own resource and you are strongly advised to make use of the opportunity. Verbal skills are an important aspect of university education, and tutorial discussion provides a good opportunity for developing them.





A Course Reader will be available through Uni Copy. Recommended reading: John Haugeland, ed. Mind Design II. Available through the University Bookshop and in the high-use area of the SSH library.


Many students have also found the following book very helpful both for writing essays and for approaching the subject of philosophy generally:

Seech, Zachary, Writing Philosophy Papers. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth.





In addition to the expected continuing attendance of lectures and tutorials you will be required to complete the following assessment:


•           •        Three tutorial quizzes 15%

•           •        Take-Home Exam 35%

•           •        Mid-term essay  40% 

•           •        Tutorial Participation 10%


Quizzes will be given in weeks 5, 8 and 11.  They will consist of short-answer or multiple choice questions testing your understanding of the reading material.


Mid-term essay will be due Tuesday September 20, 5pm. 

You are asked to write a 1500 word essay addressing one of the topics set by the lecturer.

Take-Home Exam will be due Monday, November 7. 5pm.

You will be required to write three short essays (up to 700words each) relating to topics covered in the course. The exam will be distributed in class and on the web in week 12 of lectures.




Extensions on due dates for essay assignments or the take-home exam are only permitted if you have a legitimate reason (e.g. illness, etc.). If you cannot submit an assignment by the due date, you should consult the course coordinator: Deborah Brown immediately concerning the possibility of an extension. You should not ask for an extension after the essay is due as it will not be given, except where you were physically incapable of making a phone call before the essay is due. Evidence of your illness etc. will be required. Conflicts with assessment for other courses, computer failures and work constraints are not sufficient grounds for being awarded an extension. Late papers will receive a one point grade reduction per day overdue (e.g., if your paper is worth a 5 and is one day late the grade drops to 5-).




Plagiarism is an academic offence and will be penalized. Please refer to the School's Manual of Style, and to the School's web-site for further clarification.

The University accepts the following definition of plagiarism:


"Plagiarism is the action or practice of taking and using as one's own the thoughts or writings of another, without acknowledgment."

The following practices constitute acts of plagiarism and are a major infringement of the University's academic values:

•           Where paragraphs, sentences, a single sentence or significant parts of a sentence are copied

            directly, and are not enclosed in quotation marks and appropriately footnoted;

•           Where direct quotations are not used, but are paraphrased or summarised, and the source of the

            material is not acknowledged either by footnoting or other simple reference within the text of the

            paper; and

•           Where an idea which appears elsewhere in printed, electronic or audio-visual material is used or 

            developed without reference being made to the author or the source of that material."


Plagiarism carries strict penalties which could result in a student's being expelled from University. Occurrences of plagiarism in this course will result in a formal complaint being lodged by the lecturer with the University against the student.


General Assessment Criteria and Policies


Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with School policy regarding assessment. Students should also consult the School's Manual of Style for Essay Writing regarding technical questions in the producing and presentation of their essays. Useful information may also be found on the UQ Cybrary web-page under "Advice & Training - UseIts".


Mid-term essays, take-home exams and final grades are marked according to the University’s seven point system:


Grade 7 (numerical equivalent is usually 100-85%) 
Grade 6 (usually 84-75%) 
Grade 5 (usually 74-65%) 
Grade 4 (usually 64-50%) 
Grade 3 (usually 49-45%) 
Grade 2 (usually 44-25%) 
Grade 1 (usually 24-0%)


To gain a HIGH DISTINCTION (7) students need to demonstrate considerable originality and sophistication in their approach. Their work must excel in research, critical analysis, philosophical debate and writing style.


To gain a DISTINCTION (6) students must demonstrate an understanding of deeper and more complex aspects of the subject, and show a capacity for original evaluation and interpretation. Extensive reading is necessary and some understanding of philosophical debate is desirable, with a solid writing style.


To gain a CREDIT (5) students must show that they are capable of doing more than drawing together the ideas of others: they must demonstrate some analytical skills and research initiatives.


Students can expect to PASS (4) if they fulfil all assessment requirements at a basic level, demonstrating a reasonable understanding of the fundamental issues and concepts introduced.


Students will be awarded a CONCEDED PASS (3) if their work is close to satisfactory overall, but has failed to reach the basic level of competence necessary for a Pass; or if some work is incomplete.


Students will be awarded a FAIL (2) if they do not satisfy the basic requirements of the subject.


Students who have submitted some work, but of a totally unsatisfactory standard, will be awarded a SERIOUS FAIL (1).


Philosophy Assessment Criteria.


The following criteria will be used in determining how well students satisfy grade requirements:


1. Knowledge of the arguments and literature
2. Coherence of structure and argument
3. Defence of thesis
4. Originality and imaginativeness


SATISFYING (1) IS A STUDENT'S HIGHEST PRIORITY. Of these criteria it is necessary to demonstrate (1) to receive a passing grade. (2)-(4) determine how well above a pass the student does. All written work will be expected to defend a thesis which offers supporting reasons for claims asserted. Students are not expected to develop original theories at this level but are expected to exercise originality in critically assessing existing theories.


See Information on how to write a philosophy essay. This is an extremely useful site for the beginning philosopher. It contains a number of sites helping students grasp philosophical writing techniques as well as on-line dictionaries and encyclopedias of philosophy.





Students are advised to read the material set down for the course, attend all lectures, and participate actively in tutorials. If you apply yourselves to the task on a week-by-week basis (avoiding cramming) then you are most likely to do well and enjoy the course more.


If you feel you would benefit from reading around more you might consult philosophy websites and additional materials in the library. A number of readers and additional source material will be made available in the high-use area of the library.


There are many guides available - the Philosophy Department has listed many of them at (the guides to writing philosophy essays are usually very helpful on studying philosophy as well)





There is an on-campus service available to all students who may require assistance with more general problems relating to their academic work, e.g. essay writing skills, returning to study after a long break, preparing assignments or seminars, stress, etc. This supplementary assistance is available through the Learning Assistance Unit — a part of Student Support Services — in the Relaxation Block, Student Union Complex. Telephone 336 51704.


Any student who for whatever reason (not just physical disabilities) may require alternative academic arrangements is encouraged to seek advice at the commencement of the semester from a Disability Advisor at Student Support Services (Telephone 336 51704).