Processes of Human Memory

Module titleProcesses of Human Memory
Module codePSY3418
Academic year2014/5
Module staff

Dr Fraser Milton (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

The ability to remember information is fundamental to our successful functioning. This module aims to provide an overview on how we do this and to explore the idea that memory can be broken down into different sub-types. We will discuss current understanding of memory and critically evaluate the strengths and limitations of recent work. We will focus on the role that the study of patient groups and the use of imaging techniques such as fMRI have had in aiding our understanding of memory. The module combines lectures by the module convener with student presentations and discussions on critical issues.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is to provide you with a strong background on key aspects of human long-term memory. Whilst a particular aim is for you to obtain a thorough understanding of current knowledge, particular emphasis will be placed on topics that are currently under heated debate and where you will be asked to critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different positions. You will be expected to develop your presentation skills during the course and to interact with the module convener and other students whilst discussing key issues.

Through attending the weekly seminars and completing the assessments, you will further develop the following academic and professional skills that will be transferable to future employment: problem solving (linking theory to practice, developing your own ideas with confidence, being able to respond to novel and unfamiliar problems), managing structure (identifying key demands of the task, setting clearly defined goals, responding flexibly to changing priorities), time management (managing time effectively individually and within a group), collaboration (respecting the views and values of others, taking initiative and leading others, supporting others in their work, maintaining group cohesiveness and purpose), and audience awareness (presenting ideas effectively in multiple formats, persuading others of the importance and relevance of your views, responding positively and effectively to questions).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Illustrate comprehensively some of the most topical issues in memory research
  • 2. Identify the brain regions which support these different types of memory and of the processes that are assumed to underlie each memory system
  • 3. Evaluate the principles behind the various theoretical positions and explain the strengths and limitations of the various methods (e.g. neuropsychological, neuroimaging) that have been used to provide insight into these issues

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Acquire detailed, systematic and comprehensive knowledge within the discipline, with in-depth specialisation at the forefront of the discipline in certain areas, and demonstrate advanced critical understanding of this knowledge and of the limits and provisional nature of this knowledge
  • 5. Review and critically evaluate published work at an advanced level and identify the strengths and weaknesses of this work, and at an advanced level structure this literature to present logical, coherent and sustained arguments to support conclusions at an advanced level
  • 6. Address systematically complex problems at an advanced level which may be framed within unpredictable contexts, think critically, creatively and independently, and fully appreciate the complexities of the issues
  • 7. Understand and apply essential principles in designing novel research, and critically evaluate and analyse empirical evidence, and assess the reliability of empirical evidence using a range of defined techniques at an advanced level
  • 8. Illustrate the wider ethical issues relating to the subject and its application at an advanced level

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. Interact effectively and supportively within a learning group
  • 10. Manage your own learning using the full range of resources of the discipline and with minimum guidance
  • 11. Describe your own criteria of self-evaluation and challenge received opinion and reflect on your actions, and seek and make use of feedback
  • 12. Select and manage information and to undertake study tasks competently with minimum guidance
  • 13. Take responsibility for your own work and criticise it
  • 14. Engage effectively in debate in a professional manner and produce detailed and coherent written work; identify complex problems and apply appropriate knowledge and methods for their solution with confidence and flexibility
  • 15. Act autonomously with minimal supervision or direction, within agreed guidelines
  • 16. Manage time effectively to meet deadlines.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

1. Introduction to the multiple systems of human memory

2. Anterograde amnesia and the retention of novel information

3. Accelerated long-term forgetting of recently acquired information

4. Processes of recognition memory 1: An experimental psychology perspective

5. Processes of recognition memory 2: A neuropsychological/neuroscience perspective

6. Implicit memory

7. Processes of categorisation

8. Autobiographical memory

9. The medial temporal lobe and autobiographical memory.

10. Semantic memory

11. Revision

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching33Seminar
Guided Independent Study80Seminar preparation
Guided Independent Study37Writing of coursework essay and revision for exam


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Engagement in seminars11 seminarsAllInformal feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Examination603 hours1-8, 11, 14, 16Exam mark
Essay403000 words5-8, 10-13, 15-16Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExaminationExamination1-8, 11, 14, 16August Ref/Def
EssayEssay5-8, 10-13, 15-16August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Two assessments are required for this module. For the examination and essay, the reassessment will be the same as the original assessment. Where you have been referred/deferred in the examination you will have the opportunity to take a second examination in the August/September re-assessment period. This will constitute 60% of the module. Where you have been referred/deferred in the essay you will be required to resubmit the essay. This will constitute 40% of the module. Deferred marks are not capped; referred marks are capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

There is no core text book for this course. Instead, we will focus on recent journal articles that are most relevant to the debates. A list of recommended readings for each topic will be circulated at the beginning of the course. For an introduction to the sort of issues that will be covered, please see:

Baddeley, A.D. (1997). Human memory: theory and practice.

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Psychology, Human memory, neuropsychology, fMRI, neuroscience, semantic memory, episodic memory, implicit memory, anterograde amnesia, retrograde amnesia

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date