SPSC114-21SU2 (D) Summer Nov 2021 start (Distance)

The Science of Human Communication

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 15 November 2021
End Date: Sunday, 19 December 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 21 November 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 3 December 2021


SPSC114 examines how we communicate, how that is influenced by our culture, the neural and cognitive processes underpinning communication, and how communication is affected by external contexts such as noise and stress. It highlights theories and practical strategies to enhance the success of communication, in written and spoken format, as a university student and future professional. Drawing on case studies from the fields of medicine and aviation, we explore the effects of communication failure-and how those issues can be mitigated. We explore how communication differs across groups-such as children, older adults and those with communication difficulty. Students also gain exposure to the different academic disciplines that examine communication and the scientific methods they employ.

Course Coordinator

Dean Sutherland


Have you ever wanted to know why your friend or parent got offended by something you said? Or have you wondered why it is so difficult to listen to friends in a café? Do you want to know how to write the perfect letter or deliver a speech that people enjoy listening too? This course gives you the opportunity to learn about how communication works.
Good communication is a key skill that people look for in their employees, flatmates, sports team members, and romantic partners. If you take the time to learn about communication, you set yourself up for success.

This course examines how we communicate, how this is influenced by our culture, the neural and cognitive processes underpinning communication, how children learn to communicate, and why communication can fail, including case studies from plane crashes and doctor- patient interactions. Some of the scientific findings about human communication are also considered.
We will cover models of communication and practical strategies for successful communication, both written and spoken, which are useful for you as a university student and future professional.


1. Introduction: An overview of the course, get to know each other, and some background info about how humans became capable of speaking.
2. Communication Development: Understand the amazing learning the human babies and infants experience early in life.
3. Personal Communication: Learn about the anatomy and neurobiology involved in communication, and skills we can work on to become effective communicators.
4. Cross cultural and non-verbal Communication: Highlights how our culture influences our communication, especially non-verbal communication.
5. Professional Communication: Find out how to deliver a great speech and develop effective writing skills.
6. Adverse conditions: Understand why communication is more difficult when we wear face masks, and also the communication conditions that can cause plane crashes.
7. Different perspectives: Learn about the different fields that study human communication.


Weekly communication and learning reflections (30%)
A 3-minute recorded presentation (20%)
A portfolio of weekly learning activities (50%)


There is no prescribed textbook for this course, all readings are provided.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $979.00

International fee $4,938.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Psychology, Speech and Hearing on the departments and faculties page .

All SPSC114 Occurrences

  • SPSC114-21SU2 (D) Summer Nov 2021 start (Distance)