SPSC114-22S1 (C) Semester One 2022

The Science of Human Communication

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 21 February 2022
End Date: Sunday, 26 June 2022
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 6 March 2022
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 15 May 2022


A broad introduction to human communication, including how our communication styles are influenced by language and culture, and neurobiological processes such as hearing and perception. This course introduces students to different scientific methods used to study communication and provides practical opportunities for students to develop their own interpersonal and professional communication skills.

Description - Whakamahuki
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.

Timetable Note

Timetable - Wātaka
Tuesday/Rātū 2pm to 2.50pm Jack Erskine 101
Wednesday/Rāapa 1pm to 2.50pm Jack Erskine 101

Course Coordinator

Kenny Ardouin


Aromatawai/Assessment Information:

Full assessment descriptions and marking rubrics will be available on Learn. Assessments three and four may be offered online rather than in-class depending on COVID restrictions at the time.

1. A personal reflection on human communication (30%, up to 1200 words)
   DUE by Monday 4 April 5.00pm
2. Four task-specific communication items (20%, 5% for each task)
   DUE one per week Friday 8 April, Friday 6 May, Friday 13 May, Friday 20 May 7.00pm
3. Three-minute presentation (15%, in class week 10)
   DUE in class either Tuesday 17 or Wednesday 18 May.
4. In-class final test (35%, in class Wednesday 1 June): The in-class test will cover content from
   across the full semester. Questions will be in Multiple Choice and Short Answer format. Additional
   information will be provided during classes.


Course Coordinator and Lecturer - Kenny Ardouin

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.


1. A personal reflection on human communication (30%).
2. Four task-specific communication items (20%).
3. Three-minute presentation (15%).
4. In-class test (35%).


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

A variety of required readings will be presented during the course. Links to these will typically be made available via LEARN.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $995.00

International fee $5,063.00

* 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 .

All SPSC114 Occurrences

  • SPSC114-22S1 (C) Semester One 2022