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Exploring Minds

University of Warwick

Department of Psychology 2021/22

Module Code:


Module Name:

Exploring Minds

Module Credits (CATS):


Module Convener

Thomas Hills

Module Teachers


Module Aims

This module tackles questions about the structure of minds and how they give rise to knowledge, imagination, creativity, dreams, hallucinations, psychosis, and mystical experiences. Ultimately, the question we will attempt to address is what kinds of minds are possible, what can they do, what are there limits, and how do they originate? The answers to these questions are informed by philosophy, computer science, evolutionary ecology, psychiatry, science fiction, linguistics, anthropology, and human self-enhancement.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Understand the ways in which minds change (evolve, learn, and age) from both quantitative and qualitative perspectives

  • Understand the history and future of approaches to mind and its construction and maintenance

  • Be able to frame the highs (spiritual) and lows (pathology) of experience in relation to naturalistic science, from perspectives of both disorder and adaptation

Assessed by:

Project proposal, weekly participation, project & exam

Module Work Load

Module Length

12 weeks


One 2 hour lecture per week


One seminar per week


Attendance at lectures and seminars is compulsory

Module Assessment

Assessed work:

Project Proposal

Weekly Participation - (prior reading to ensure engagement with the material prior to lectures this will be semi-weekly online questions and assessments associated with the reading, seminar)








Module Programme

Biological and Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Mind
Generative Self-Construction and Cognitive Enhancement
Introspection, Mindfulness, and the Varieties of Mystical Experience
Divergent Minds and Pathology

Module Reading List

Pollan, M. (2019). How to change your mind: What the new science of psychedelics teaches us about consciousness, dying, addiction, depression, and transcendence. Penguin Books.

Wright, R. (2017). Why Buddhism is true: The science and philosophy of meditation and enlightenment. Simon and Schuster.

Shane, J. (2019). You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How Artificial Intelligence Works and Why It's Making the World a Weirder Place. Voracious.

Hills, T. T. (2019). Neurocognitive free will. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 286(1908), 20190510.

Hills, T. T. (2018). Masters of reality. Aeon. Online at:

Hills, T. T. (2017). Does my algorithm have a mental health problem. Aeon. Online at: