SPSC114-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

The Art and Science of Human Communication

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


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

Kenny Ardouin


(Subject to change – please refer to course outline)

Communication style reflection essay (30%)
Professional communication portfolio (15%)
3-minute in-class presentation (15%)
Final in-class test (40%)

Textbooks / Resources

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


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 at University, in the workplace, and in your relationships.

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 that human babies and infants experience early in life.
3. Personal Communication: Learn about the anatomy and neurobiology involved in communication, how our listening styles influence our communication, and skills we can work on to become effective communicators. Develop your skills to diplomatically resolve conflicts both in-person and online, learn how to manage a disagreement with your landlord, how to say ‘no’ effectively, and explore effective communication in the world of dating, sex and relationships.
4. Cross cultural and non-verbal Communication: Highlights how our culture influences our communication, especially non-verbal communication, and how to communicate respectfully across cultures.
5. Professional Communication: Find out how to deliver a great speech, manage presentation anxiety, develop effective writing skills, and how to work effectively in a team.
6. When communication makes and breaks things: Understand the communication conditions that can lead to adverse events in hospital, plane crashes, and the communication strategies Qantas use on the flight deck that have earned them the title of world’s safest airline.
7. Different perspectives: Learn about the different fields that study human communication, explore communication through the lens of an Autistic person, and enjoy a light-hearted dive into some of the more amusing misunderstandings arising from dialectal differences.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,023.00

International fee $5,250.00

* 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

  • SPSC114-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023
  • SPSC114-23SU2 (D) Summer Nov 2023 start (Distance)