Course Description

Consciousness extends across an expansive landscape of societal, clinical, and technological themes from free will to artificial intelligence. Unlike any other phenomenon in the natural world, consciousness occupies profound mystery yet is totally accessible by the conscious experiences in daily life. For these reasons, consciousness has been the source of millennia of intrigue, study, and debate. This course is a fast-paced exploration of the key questions on consciousness – what is it, where is it, and who has it – answered and debated from interdisciplinary perspectives, including the philosophy of mind, neuroscience, psychology, medicine, and technology. Primary emphasis is given to the scientific study of consciousness and research investigating its neural mechanisms in the human brain. This course also emphasizes disorders of consciousness (e.g., coma, epilepsy, and vegetative state) and the challenges diagnosing and treating this large and heterogeneous clinical population. Students will gain the knowledge and momentum to continue exploring the taught themes long after completing this course.

Learner Outcomes

When you complete the course successfully, you will be able to:

  • Describe the essential questions, debates, and competing positions on the emergence of consciousness.
  • Detail the basic anatomy and function of the human nervous system, particularly those relevant to sensory perception.
  • Interpret the results from primary research documents on the neural mechanisms of consciousness and how these results relate to major theories of consciousness.
  • Discuss the implications for results on the neural mechanisms of consciousness for clinical, ethical, technological, and societal considerations.
  • Apply the knowledge gained from this course to be an educated consumer of content that discusses consciousness – from research to media.


This course applies toward the Biomedical Sciences Endeavor digital badge.

What FAES Learners are Saying

“The readings offered in the course were excellent and really help to integrate the science and philosophical considerations related to consciousness research field. The assignments were challenging, fun, and perfect for synthesizing knowledge from the readings” - C.R. Plate

Textbook Information

There is no textbook for purchase required for this course.


No prerequisites, but previous exposure to neuroscience or the philosophy of mind can be an asset.

Follow the link to review FAES Tuition Refund Policy.

Funding Justification Guide

Some labs and institutes may have specific funds set aside for trainees to continue their education and professional development. FAES has created a guide intended to help trainees request funds that may be available and, if they are available, request use of the training funds for continued professional development. More details

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