Psych 435 – Human color vision  (5 credits, W course)

Winter Quarter 2012

Tues  & Thurs 1:30 – 3:20 pm, Guthrie 57


Instructor:        Professor Steve Buck

Office:             Guthrie 227

Phone/vmail:    543-6789



Course objectives

            This is an upper-level undergraduate lecture/discussion course designed to introduce students to the perceptual phenomenology, neural substrate, current areas of research, and theories of human color vision.  Upon completion, students will be able to understand selected primary and secondary literature related to human color vision and to describe the major features of:

1.     the dimensions and features of human color perception and how these can be represented in pictorial, conceptual, and quantitative theories;

2.     the known neural substrate of color vision processing in the retina and the brain;

3.     the genetic basis and presumed evolution of human color vision, including color-vision deficiencies and the tests that are used to identify them;

4.     how color concepts and terms are represented differently across cultures and languages;

5.     the evolution of the use of color in art and the impact of color vision and its variations on art;

6.     the principal methods of research that have advanced our understanding of color vision and are in current use.


Course website: (I’ll send url to registered students before start of quarter)

            All updates, announcements, assignment instructions, etc. will be posted on the course website.  There you will find syllabus updates, changes in readings, and other materials that may include additional readings, lecture notes, lecture slides, and important unit issues/concepts.  Plan to check it often. 


Required readings downloads:

There are no textbooks or readings to buy for this course.  All readings (book chapters and articles) are available as PDF files that can be downloaded from the course website at no charge. 


Course requirements (subject to change)

Exam:  There will one mid-term exam which will be essay format and worth 100 points (one-third of your grade for the course).  There will not be a final exam.

Term paper:  Each student will write a 10-page paper (double-spaced, 12pt. Times font, title page and references on additional pages) that will be worth 100 points (one-third of the course grade).

Class presentation:  Each student will make a 15-min presentation to the class based on material they have found outside of the required class readings.  This could be associated with the topic of your term paper, or separate from it.  The class presentation will be worth 30 points.  Presentations can be incorporated into relevant units throughout the quarter or grouped into the last two class periods.  If necessary, the “final exam session” will be used to complete remaining class presentations. 

One-page papers:  Each student will submit by email 6-7 one-page papers on topics to be announced throughout the quarter.  Papers must be sent by email attachment in Word .doc, rtf, or text format (preferably not .docx) with your last name and paper number (e.g., Buck1.doc) on the attachment, to .  Each one-page paper will be worth 10 points.  Drafts or revisions will not be accepted.


Grading: Grades will be based on total points earned over the quarter.  Earning the following percentages of total possible points will guarantee the indicated grade.  Actual grading may be more lenient; it will not be stricter than indicated here.

95% of total possible points guarantees a 4.0, 87.5% guarantees a 3.5, 80% guarantees a 3.0, 72.5% guarantees a 2.5, 65% guarantees a 2.0, 50% guarantees a 0.7.


Extra Credit:  There are no sources of extra credit.