PY0675 - Expertise

What will I learn on this module?

Expertise is a fascinating topic because understanding the ways in which experts achieve their incredible feats would satisfy our curiosity. Studying experts also provides a chance to gain insight into the functioning of the human brain at its best, which could possibly help us prepare better training programs for future experts. The module is a mixture of sport, cognitive, and neuro sciences. The topics covered include outstanding performance in sports (e.g. tennis, football, basketball), board games (e.g. chess, Go), real-life specialized skill (e.g. medicine, fingerprint expertise), and other activities, such as memorizing large amounts of any kind of material. The basis are cognitive processes (memory, attention, perception) and the way the brain accommodates these cognitive process. More generally, you will learn about the history of the research on outstanding performance, typical paradigms, common techniques employed with hands on examples through workshops, as well as theoretical links with common training programmes/interventions.

How will I learn on this module?

The module is a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops with practical activities, and tutorials, along with independent study. A series of lectures will provide an introduction to the topics relating to expertise. The seminars will involve a group discussion of the material introduced in the lectures with scientific articles forming the basis of the discussion. The aim of these seminars is for you to learn about typical paradigms used in the field as well as the general structure of scientific articles. The discussions in the seminars will particularly help you to acquire deeper conceptual knowledge as you will be able to clarify your understanding of the topics with your peers and the Module Leader. Group discussion is also a welcome opportunity to communicate your thoughts in a non-judgmental environment and develop your oral communication skills. Workshops will supplement seminars by demonstrating the techniques and equipment you will be reading about in the articles discussed in the seminars. Finally, the tutorials will provide an opportunity to discuss issues related to the module with the module leader.

Directed study will be encouraged through the provision of reading lists, which will serve as a basis for further, independent study. Independent learning skills and reflection on the role and value of those skills will prepare you for career development learning.
Together, the learning strategies of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials, directed and independent study aim to develop your conceptual knowledge of the topic area and illustrate the range of paradigms and methods that can be used to investigate it.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

The lecture content (e.g. presentation slides) will be available on the e-learning portal. Additional links to websites with articles or interactive games where the module content is put in practical use will also be provided on the portal. The seminar articles will be made available on the portal together with main pointers for discussion. The portal will be also used for discussion among the module participants as questions and thoughts will be answered/commented on from peers or the tutor. Workshops will introduce techniques and equipment that you will hear and read about in the lectures and seminars. In addition, there will be a tutorial where you can discuss the module topics with the module tutor.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

• MK1: You will be able to demonstrate conceptual knowledge of expertise research by critically discussing relevant theory, recent research and methodological approaches

• MK2: You should have the ability to apply relevant expertise concepts in main theoretical questions as well as in their practical implementations

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

• MIP1: You will develop skills in critical thinking about peer reviewed research publications (e.g. critiquing and reviewing) as well as your communication skills during group discussions through seminars

• MIP2: You will take charge of your own career development learning, through critical self-evaluation and reflection on the relevance of the module for career enhancement and future learning.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• MPV1: You will develop and reinforce the characteristics of a Northumbria psychology graduate by building research and communication skills to contribute to knowledge generation and dissemination, demonstrating awareness of ethical principles

How will I be assessed?

Formative Assessment
Formative assessments will comprise interim presentations of ideas, and group activities related to the final assessment. These will be evaluated by peers, and through discussion with the module tutor (MK1; MK2; MIP1; MPV1)

Summative Assessment
The first assessment is an assignment which consists of a written critical review (3500 words max) and individual contribution to group discussion. This first assessment contributes 90% of the module mark.

The written part of this assessment requires you to critically review and integrate research that will address a specific topic, and also integrate knowledge from the whole module (MK1, MK2, MIP1, MPV1). The discussion part of this assessment requires you to demonstrate critical thinking skills and communication skills in seminars (MIP1; MPV1).

The second assessment is a self-reflective account in which you will be asked to consider how this module has impacted on your employability and future career (MIP2). This will be worth 10% of the module mark.

For formative assessments, there will be immediate verbal feedback (on top of peer feedback provided through discussion in group activities) but a more formal feedback will be provided together with the second summative report.

For the first summative assessment, feedback will be provided on the electronic submission in the form of a level-specific rubric. Additional written comments will be provided that identify a minimum of one strength, one weakness and one area for improvement. As mentioned, this feedback will also include the formal feedback about the group discussion contribution.

You will be required to arrange a tutorial with your personal guidance tutor for formal feedback on the second assessment, your self-reflection.





Module abstract

How do tennis players return a serve when the ball travels so fast that by the time it reaches them, they need superhuman reactions to respond appropriately? Similarly, how do chess players find the right path, often within seconds, in an environment where some argue there are more possibilities than atoms in the universe? Or, how do radiologists need only a split second to realise that all is fine with the X-rays of lungs? In this module you will learn how basic cognitive process such as memory, attention, and perception enable outstanding performance, be it in motor domains such as sports, perceptual domains such radiology, or cognitive domains where mental transformation is necessary, such as chess. You will learn about the history of research, current theories in the field, the experimental evidence behind it as well as the way the brain enables people to master their environment. The lectures will provide an overview and introduction to the field, whereas seminar will be devoted to group discussion of research articles. Workshops will give insight into practical application of typical paradigms and technologies in research, such as eye and/or body motion tracking. The module is assessed by two tasks:
1) An assignment demonstrating the knowledge expertise principles, and activity during the seminar
2) A reflective account which evaluates the skills you have gained through the module and how these may be applied to your degree pathway and wider career.

Course info

UCAS Code C800

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with optional study abroad year

Department Psychology

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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