INS301 - Introduction to the Cognitive Sciences

Outline info
Last revision date 2018-07-20 13:52:21.955
Last review date 2018-07-20 13:52:50.068

Subject Title
Introduction to the Cognitive Sciences

Subject Description
Although philosophers have considered the nature of the mind for millennia, a new interdisciplinary approach developed in the 20th century: cognitive science. After millennia of study, the problems remained the same: Is the mind different from the brain? What is consciousness? How can I tell if other people have minds? Is it possible to create an artificial intelligence? Are humans truly rational? Cognitive science includes approaches from computer science, linguistics, anthropology, philosophy and psychology in an attempt to answer these ancient questions. Students will be introduced to central themes in cognitive science by reading key articles and excerpts from books from important cognitive scientists across the various disciplines.

Credit Status
Upper-level social science elective course for students in the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree program; also a Liberal Studies Option (LSO) for Seneca degree students.

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this subject the student will be able to:

-identify the content of arguments and perspectives within the readings
-apply the terminology and methodology of argument within one’s written work
-demonstrate an understanding of the challenges surrounding theories of cognition and the reasons behind the interdisciplinary approach
-compare competing theories of human cognition within the disciplines of cognitive science
-evaluate claims made in various cognitive science articles through reflections and essays
-argue a perspective that reflects the content and challenges in the cognitive sciences within one’s written work

Essential Employability Skills
Communicate clearly, concisely and correctly in the written, spoken and visual form that fulfils the purpose and meets the needs of the audience.

Respond to written, spoken, or visual messages in a manner that ensures effective communication.

Apply a systematic approach to solve problems.

Use a variety of thinking skills to anticipate and solve problems.

Locate, select, organize, and document information using appropriate technology and information systems.

Analyze, evaluate, and apply relevant information from a variety of sources.

Show respect for diverse opinions, values, belief systems, and contributions of others.

Manage the use of time and other resources to complete projects.

Take responsibility for one's own actions, decisions, and consequences.

Cheating and Plagiarism
Each student should be aware of the College's policy regarding Cheating and Plagiarism. Seneca's Academic Policy will be strictly enforced.

To support academic honesty at Seneca College, all work submitted by students may be reviewed for authenticity and originality, utilizing software tools and third party services. Please visit the Academic Honesty site on for further information regarding cheating and plagiarism policies and procedures.

All students and employees have the right to study and work in an environment that is free from discrimination and/or harassment. Language or activities that defeat this objective violate the College Policy on Discrimination/Harassment and shall not be tolerated. Information and assistance are available from the Student Conduct Office at

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities
The College will provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities in order to promote academic success. If you require accommodation, contact the Counselling and Disabilities Services Office at ext. 22900 to initiate the process for documenting, assessing and implementing your individual accommodation needs.

ENG 106 and one lower-level liberal studies (LSO) or Critical Thinking course.

Topic Outline

  • Introduction and Evolutionary Psychology
  • Domain Specificity and the Brain
  • Language
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Ape Language Research
  • Theory of Mind

Mode of Instruction
Weekly lectures; group discussions; student-centred learning activities; online assignments. 

Prescribed Texts
Friedenberg, J. and Silverman G. Cognitive Science: An Introduction to the Study of Mind. Sage Publishing

Promotion Policy

Grading Policy
A+ 90%  to  100%
A 80%  to  89%
B+ 75%  to  79%
B 70%  to  74%
C+ 65%  to  69%
C 60%  to  64%
D+ 55%  to  59%
D 50%  to  54%
F 0%    to  49% (Not a Pass)
EXC Excellent
SAT Satisfactory
UNSAT Unsatisfactory

For further information, see a copy of the Academic Policy, available online ( or at Seneca's Registrar's Offices.

Modes of Evaluation


All term work assignments must be completed prior to the time of the final exam or last class.  Students must contact faculty in advance of an assignment due date to discuss the possibility of an extension.  Late assignments will be subject to a late penalty resulting in a lower grade.

Make-up opportunities for assignments must also be arranged in advance of the scheduled due date.  If an assignment is missed due to class absence, official documentation must be submitted to the faculty on or before the next scheduled class. Make-up opportunities may not apply to all graded assignments.


Presentations 20%
Mid-Term Test 25%
Research Paper 30%
Final Exam 25%

Students are graded on form as well as content. Marks (up to 5% of the final grade) may be lost for poor organization of ideas and errors in spelling, grammar, capitalization and punctuation. 
Students are not permitted to use instructional aids during tests or exams. 
To be successful in this course, you must complete all course work as specified, and achieve an overall grade of 50% or more.  It is expected that students have a sufficient command of the English language to express themselves clearly in both written assignments and class discussions. For further information on evaluation and academic standing, see the Academic Policy at

Approved by: Fiona Bain-greenwood