1. Handbook
  2. Subjects
  3. The Unconscious Mind

The Unconscious Mind (PSYC30012)

Undergraduate level 3Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

You’re viewing the 2018 Handbook:
Or view archived Handbooks
You’re currently viewing the 2018 version of this subject


Year of offer2018
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 3
Subject codePSYC30012
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Ever since Freud, the unconscious mind has been a critical part of our understanding of the human mind and behaviour. Despite its power to captivate popular imagination, scientific psychology's treatment of unconsciousness has a history of vicissitudes. This subject has three main components: historical background, contemporary theory and research, and applications and implications in contemporary culture and society. First, the subject traces the historical origin and subsequent development of the idea of the unconscious mind in psychological theories and practice. In so doing, Freud's notion of unconsciousness, as well as lesser known, but critically important theorists' contributions are examined and their contemporary implications are discussed. Second, the modern methods used in the contemporary examination of unconscious processes are introduced, and the current understanding of psychological unconsciousness is discussed from neuroscientific, perceptual, cognitive, developmental, social, and clinical perspectives. Third, we survey the uses of the scientific understanding of unconscious processes in a variety of applied contexts and explore implications of the psychological knowledge about the unconscious mind in contemporary culture and society. This includes a critical examination of the evidence for the role of unconscious processes in abnormal human behaviour and discussions about implications of the unconscious mind for identity and responsibility.

Intended learning outcomes

The subject aims to:

  • give students the opportunity to critically review theories of the unconscious throughout the history of psychology
  • evaluate the methodologies used to investigate the unconscious mind
  • interpret empirical research findings; and present a reasoned argument concerning the place of the unconscious mind in contemporary psychological theory and more broadly within contemporary culture and society

Generic skills

Students will be given appropriate opportunity and educational support to develop skills to:

  • think critically and apply analytical skills to new issues
  • appraise current knowledge and its internal structure
  • evaluate methods used to acquire current knowledge
  • appropriately interpret empirical data in the light of current knowledge and methodological considerations
  • communicate ideas concisely

Last updated: 11 October 2019