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Face Perception - PSY00029M

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  • Department: Psychology
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Mike Burton
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2021-22

Module aims

The human face has such important biological and social functions that several regions of the brain are involved in processing information from faces. We are expert perceivers of faces, able to make sophisticated judgements about them. A universally important locus of communication, our faces convey a range of social signals. We use faces to identify friends and acquaintances, to interpret their moods and feelings, and to judge attractiveness on the basis of facial features. These topics will be explored in detail, to show how our understanding of the science of face perception can inform us about what happens when we look at faces.

Understanding the application of experimental psychology to an area of high intrinsic interest and practical relevance. Insight into the factors affecting the application of experimental evidence and laboratory techniques to real-life problems. Seeing how data, techniques and theory drawn from different disciplines (psychology, neurology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, computer science) can converge to enhance our understanding.

Students enrolling on this module should demonstrate a good understanding of core knowledge in cognitive psychology, as well as intermediate skills in quantitative statistical analyses.

Module learning outcomes

  • Describe the different sources of information available within faces and the implications of this for the perceiver
  • Critically evaluate the impact of technological advances on face perception research
  • Compare and contrast the biological and social factors involved in face perception, and the implication of these for theoretical developments in the field
  • Demonstrate a deep understanding the relationship between facial information for perception, and its relation to functional and neural architecture
  • Evaluate the implications of research findings for psychology and for society, and the practical implications of specific research findings.

Module content

  • The biological background
  • Facial expressions
  • Face recognition
  • Person perception
  • Gaze perception
  • Facial attractiveness
  • First impressions


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 40
Online Exam
Face Perception
N/A 60

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 40
Online Exam
Face Perception
N/A 60

Module feedback

The marks on all assessed work will be provided on e-vision

These marks will be accompanied by module feedback circulated via e-mail.

Students will meet supervisors in wk 6 in AuT, SpT and wk 9 in SuT to discuss their marks.

Indicative reading

Reading lists for each topic will be made available via the course home page. Key readings for the main lectures and seminars are available via the University library’s e-journals. The main reading involves primary source material and a published review paper for each topic.

An overview of course topics can be found in this textbook, which can be useful if you need to look up something or want a broader perspective on a particular issue:

Bruce, V. & Young, A. (2012). Face perception. London: Psychology Press.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.