Psychology 2115A 200 FW23

Introduction to Sensation and Perception

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.




Department of Psychology 



Psychology 2115A Section 200 

Introduction to Sensation and Perception 





An introduction to the study of the human senses and higher order perceptual processes. Data gathered from psychophysical research and studies of the nervous system in both humans and other animals will be discussed. The course will review the mechanisms and principles of operation of vision, hearing, touch, taste and smell. Antirequisite(s): Psychology 2015A/B.  


Antirequisite: Psychology 2015A/B 


Antirequisites are courses that overlap sufficiently in content that only one can be taken for credit. If you take a course that is an antirequisite to a course previously taken, you will lose credit for the earlier course, regardless of the grade achieved in the most recent course. 


Prerequisite: A mark of at least 60% in 1.0 credits of Psychology at the 1000 level 


4 lecture hours; Course Weight: 0.5 


Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enrol in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites. 





Instructor: Dr. Blake Butler  

Office and Phone Number: WIRB 6126; 519-661-2111 x 85831  

Office Hours: By appointment  



Teaching Assistant: TBD 

Office Hours: TBD  

Email: TBD  


Time and Location of Classes: This is a blended course, meaning that students who wish to be successful should be prepared to engage both online and in-person. Please note: the blended format does not mean that students may elect to attend online or in person.  


On a weekly basis, recorded lecture content will be made available via the course site that can be accessed according to your schedule. In addition, a weekly in-person lecture will be held in-person that will align with the week’s theme. Students will be expected to have reviewed the online content prior to the in-person lecture. In addition, assessments will be conducted during these in-person lecture times. 


Students who are in emotional/mental distress should refer to Health and Wellness @Western for a complete list of options about how to obtain help. 


Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also contact Accessible Education at  or 519-661-2147. 



2.1 Online Learning Notice: 
Please note: students must have a reliable internet connection and computer that are compatible with online learning system requirements. Some courses may also require the use of a remote proctoring platform to ensure assessments are taken fairly in accordance with Western’s policy on Scholastic Discipline for Undergraduate Students and Scholastic Discipline for Graduate Students.  




Sensation and Perception, 2nd Edition 

BL Schwartz & JH Krantz 

Sage Publishing 


Print Version: [insert uwo bookstore link here] 

eBook Version: [insert uwo bookstore link here] 


Note: I have chosen the Schwartz & Krantz text for this course because I find it to be the most accessible yet comprehensive text available. Moreover, it is one of the most affordable options (believe it or not) and includes some good learning resources in the online accompaniment. Please note that we will cover this text in its entirety by the end of the course. 





This course provides an overview of how we sense and perceive the world around us, and provides a strong basis for subsequent study in Psychology. It is not possible to understand how we understand the physical world without developing a basic understanding of the structure and function of our varied sensory systems; as a result, this course will require students to integrate across the fields of anatomy, neurology, physiology, and psychology. While the course is content-heavy, we will do our best to illustrate the similarities across systems and present multiple way to engage with the information. 



Learning Outcome  

Learning Activity  


Depth and Breadth of Knowledge.  

  • Students will learn about the structure and function of sensory systems, incorporating learning from across disciplines (anatomy, physiology, psychology) and will think critically about how perceptual processes are measured. 
  • Students will use the knowledge acquired in the course to guide discovery-based learning aimed at developing a deeper understanding of sensory systems function. 


Online & in-person course materials aligned with assigned readings from the text will provide the basic framework. 


A group project will allow students to learn about an illusory percept of their choice. 


In-class quizzes and the final examination will be used to assess how students are retaining basic principles. 



Oral presentation and written document will be used to assess success. 

Application of Knowledge.  

  • Students will apply their understanding of theory and measurement to novel challenges in sensation and perception. 


Applications questions will ask students to apply learned concepts & theories to novel scenarios 


The final exam will include a written portion that tests these applications explicitly. 

Communication Skills.  

  • Students will learn to collaborate effectively with their peers toward a common goal. 
  • Students will learn how to effectively communicate their ideas in a way that is accessible to their peers & content experts. 


A group project will ask students to work together to select, study, & present about a perceptual illusion. 


An oral presentation and written document will be used to assess the success of this group project. 

Awareness of Limits of Knowledge. 

  • Students will consider instances of atypical and illusory perception to better appreciate the ambiguity and limits of our understanding of perception in the real world. 


Atypical perception will be considered in order to better understand how different systems contribute to perceiving the world. 


The group assignment will ask students to examine a perceptual illusion to better understand how the brain constructs representations of external stimuli. 









An oral presentation and written document will be used to assess the success of this group project. 



The evaluation and testing formats for this course were created to assess the learning objectives as listed in section 4.0 and are considered necessary for meeting these learning objectives. 


Quizzes (15% each) 

There will be three in-class quizzes throughout the term, each of which will contribute 15% toward your final grade. These will focus on the material presented since the previous test (i.e. Quiz 2 will focus on material presented after Quiz 1), including both lectures and associated readings. 


Group Project (15%) 

As a group, you will choose a perceptual phenomenon (a non-exhaustive list will be provided or you can come up with your own) and prepare a presentation and a written submission that contains: 


  1. a) a description of the phenomenon;
  2. b) a description of what is interesting/puzzling about the phenomenon;
  3. c) a reasonable hypothesis that might explain the phenomenon; and 
  4. d) a description of an experiment that could test the hypothesized explanation. 


Groups will be assigned early in the term, and you will be responsible for scheduling to complete this project before the deadline. More details will be provided in class.  


Final Exam (40%) 

The final exam will be written in person in the Final Exam period. The exam will include material from throughout the course and will include both lecture material and assigned readings. The exam will include multiple choice and written questions focused on applications (i.e., applying the concepts from the course to novel problems). More details will be provided before the end of term. 





Quizzes: Quizzes will take place during our regularly scheduled in-class meetings, and no make-up quizzes will be made available. Instead, the final exam will be reweighted to accommodate any quizzes that are missed with valid documentation. 


Group Project: Group presentations will be scheduled during our regularly scheduled in-class meetings. Any group who does not present on the scheduled date will be asked to record their presentation and submit via the OWL site. Recorded presentations and accompanying written submissions uploaded after the deadline will be penalized 10% per day to a maximum of 50%.  


Final Exam: Students who are unable to write the final exam as scheduled should speak to their academic counsellor as soon as possible to discuss an accommodation. The date of the make-up final exam will be announced via the OWL shortly after the finalized exam schedule is posted. 



The expectation for course grades within the Psychology Department is that they will be distributed around the following averages: 


70% 1000-level to 2099-level courses 

72% 2100-2999-level courses 

75% 3000-level courses 

80% 4000-level courses 


The Psychology Department follows Western’s grading guidelines, which are as follows (see: 


A+ 90-100 One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level 

A 80-89 Superior work that is clearly above average 

B 70-79 Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory 

C 60-69 Competent work, meeting requirements 

D 50-59 Fair work, minimally acceptable 

F below 50 Fail 


Note that in the event that course grades are significantly higher or lower than these averages, instructors may be required to make adjustments to course grades. Such adjustment might include the normalization of one or more course components and/or the re-weighting of various course components. 


Policy on Grade Rounding: Please note that although course grades within the Psychology Department are rounded to the nearest whole number, no further grade rounding will be done. No additional assignments will be offered to enhance a final grade; nor will requests to change a grade because it is needed for a future program be considered. To maximize your grade, do your best on each and every assessment within the course. 




Quiz 1 – Wednesday September 27 

Quiz 2 – Wednesday October 18 

Quiz 3 – Wednesday November 15 

Group Presentations/Written Document – Wednesday November 29 

Final Exam – TBD (to be held in person during the final exam period) 





Sept 11-15 What is Perception and how can we study it? Chapters 1-2 

Sept 18-22 Introduction to the Visual System Chapter 3 

Sept 25-29 The Visual Brain Chapter 4 

Oct 2-6 Form & Colour Perception Chapters 5-6 

Oct 9-13 Depth & Size Perception Chapter 7 

Oct 16-20 Visual Motion Perception Chapter 8 

Oct 23-27 Visual Attention Chapter 9 

Oct 30 – Nov 3 READING WEEK 

Nov 6-10 Introduction to the Auditory System Chapter 10 

Nov 13-17 The Auditory Brain & Sound Localization Chapter 11 

Nov 20-24 Speech & Music Perception Chapters 12-13 

Nov 27–Dec 1 Somatosensation Chapter 14 

Dec 4-8 Chemical Senses Chapter 15 





We acknowledge that Western University is located on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, Lūnaapéewak and Attawandaron peoples, on lands connected with the London Township and Sombra Treaties of 1796 and the Dish with One Spoon Covenant Wampum. 


With this, we respect the longstanding relationships that Indigenous Nations have to this land, as they are the original caretakers. We acknowledge historical and ongoing injustices that Indigenous Peoples (e.g. First Nations, Métis and Inuit) endure in Canada, and we accept responsibility as a public institution to contribute toward revealing and correcting miseducation, as well as renewing respectful relationships with Indigenous communities through our teaching, research and community service. 





Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offences. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offences because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offence are described at the following link: 


As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offences. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and ( 


Computer-marked multiple-choice tests and/or exams will be subject to submission for similarity review by software that will check for unusual coincidences in answer patterns that may indicate cheating. 


In classes that involve the use of a personal response system (PRS), data collected using the PRS will only be used in a manner consistent to that described in this outline. It is the instructor’s responsibility to make every effort to ensure that data remain confidential. However, students should be aware that as with all forms of electronic communication, privacy is not guaranteed. Your PRS login credentials are for your sole use only. Students attempting to use another student’s credentials to submit data through the PRS may be subject to academic misconduct proceedings.  


Possible penalties for a scholastic offence include failure of the assignment/exam, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University. 



Tests and examinations for online courses will be conducted using a remote proctoring service. By taking this course, you are consenting to the use of this software and acknowledge that you will be required to provide personal information (including some biometric data) and the session will be recorded.  Completion of this course will require you to have a reliable internet connection and a device that meets the technical requirements for this service. More information about this remote proctoring service, including technical requirements, is available on Western’s Remote Proctoring website at: 

In the event that in-person exams are unexpectedly canceled, you may only be given notice of the use of a proctoring service a short time in advance. 





Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 


If you experience an extenuating circumstance (e.g., illness, injury) sufficiently significant to temporarily make you unable to meet academic requirements, you may request accommodation through the following routes:  

  1. For medical absences, submitting a Student Medical Certificate (SMC) signed by a licensed medical or mental health practitioner in order to be eligible for Academic Consideration;  
  1. For non-medical absences, submitting appropriate documentation (e.g., obituary, police report, accident report, court order, etc.) to Academic Counselling in their Faculty of registration in order to be eligible for academic consideration. Students are encouraged to contact their Academic Counselling unit to clarify what documentation is appropriate. 


Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation. 


Students seeking academic consideration: 

  • are advised to consider carefully the implications of postponing tests or midterm exams or delaying handing in work;   
  • must communicate with their instructors no later than 24 hours after the end of the period covered SMC, or immediately upon their return following a documented absence 


Students seeking accommodation for religious purposes are advised to contact Academic Counselling at least three weeks prior to the religious event and as soon as possible after the start of the term. 




In the event of a COVID-19 resurgence or any other event that necessitates the course delivery moving away from face-to-face interaction, all remaining course content will be delivered entirely online, either synchronously (i.e., at the times indicated in the timetable) or asynchronously (e.g., posted on the course website for students to view at their convenience). The grading scheme will not change. Any remaining assessments will also be conducted online, as determined by the course instructor. 




In courses involving online interactions, the Psychology Department expects students to honour the following rules of etiquette: 

  • please “arrive” to class on time 
  • please use your computer and/or laptop if possible (as opposed to a cell phone or tablet) 
  • please ensure that you are in a private location to protect the confidentiality of discussions in the event that a class discussion deals with sensitive or personal material 
  • to minimize background noise, kindly mute your microphone for the entire class until you are invited to speak, unless directed otherwise 
  • In classes larger than 30 participants please turn off your video camera for the entire class unless you are invited to speak 
  • In classes of 30 students or fewer, where video chat procedures are being used, please be prepared to turn your video camera off at the instructor’s request if the internet connection becomes unstable 
  • Unless invited by your instructor, do not share your screen in the meeting 



The course instructor will act as moderator for the class and will deal with any questions from participants. To participate please consider the following: 

  • If you wish to speak, use the “raise hand” function and wait for the instructor to acknowledge you before beginning your comment or question. 
  • Please remember to unmute your microphone and turn on your video camera before speaking. 
  • Self-identify when speaking. 
  • Please remember to mute your mic and turn off your video camera after speaking (unless directed otherwise). 


General considerations of “netiquette”: 

  • Keep in mind the different cultural and linguistic backgrounds of the students in the course. 
  • Be courteous toward the instructor, your colleagues, and authors whose work you are discussing. 
  • Be respectful of the diversity of viewpoints that you will encounter in the class and in your readings. The exchange of diverse ideas and opinions is part of the scholarly environment. “Flaming” is never appropriate. 
  • Be professional and scholarly in all online postings. Use proper grammar and spelling. Cite the ideas of others appropriately. 


Note that disruptive behaviour of any type during online classes, including inappropriate use of the chat function, is unacceptable. Students found guilty of Zoom-bombing a class or of other serious online offenses may be subject to disciplinary measures under the Code of Student Conduct. 




Office of the Registrar:   


Student Development Services:  


Psychology Undergraduate Program: 


If you wish to appeal a grade, please read the policy documentation at: 

Please first contact the course instructor. If your issue is not resolved, you may make your appeal to the Undergraduate Chair in Psychology ( 


Copyright Statement: Lectures and course materials, including power point presentations, outlines, videos and similar materials, are protected by copyright. You may take notes and make copies of course materials for your own educational use. You may not record lectures, reproduce (or allow others to reproduce), post or distribute any course materials publicly and/or for commercial purposes without the instructor’s written consent. 


Policy on the Recording of Synchronous Sessions: Some or all of the remote learning sessions for this course (if scheduled) may be recorded. The data captured during these recordings may include your image, voice recordings, chat logs and personal identifiers (name displayed on the screen). The recordings will be used for educational purposes related to this course, including evaluations. The recordings may be disclosed to other individuals participating in the course for their private or group study purposes. Please contact the instructor if you have any concerns related to session recordings. Participants in this course are not permitted to privately record the sessions, except where recording is an approved accommodation, or the student has the prior written permission of the instructor.