Higher Cognitive Functions in Children, Adults and Non-human Animals


We will examine studies examining three topics (time, causality and theory of mind) in three different participant groups (children, adults, and non-human animals).

Our aim will be an integration of evidence across these groups to address what it is to understand these topics.

  • Introduction
  • Development of thinking about time
  • Non-human animals’ understanding of time
  • Heuristics and biases in human adults’ thinking about time
  • Children’s thinking about causality
  • Folk physics in non-human animals
  • Adults’ thinking and reasoning about causes
  • Development of theory of mind
  • Theory of mind in non-human animals
  • Theory of mind in human adults


  • 10 x 2 hour lectures
  • 6 x 1 hour workshop/discussion groups
  • 1 x 1 hour coursework seminar
  • 1 x 1 hour revision session
  • Office hours 11 x 1 hour
  • Self-directed study
  • Optional zoo trip and activities (4.5 hours plus 1.5 hours travelling)


  • Research Proposal (40%): adaptation of a study to a new participant group
  • Examination (60%): Unseen exam with short answer questions (breadth of knowledge) and an essay (depth of knowledge: choose 1 from 4)

Key skills

  • Critical thinking
  • Integration and comparison
  • Problem solving
  • Gathering information
  • Report writing
  • Using initiative
  • Written communication