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Swift Thinking: Fall 2016

Planning for Winter 2017

A table of our anticipated Winter 2017 course offerings along with the department plan for the 2016-2017 Academic Year is available online at Schedule and Resources. Descriptions of Psychology courses are also available on the Registrar’s website. This can assist you in planning for your Spring courses as well.

Preregistering for Winter Courses

The Psychology department will be offering preregistration through CAESAR for most of our courses the week prior to regular registration. To see which courses are available for preregistration, look at the “prereg” column in our “Winter 2017 course offerings” table. All students listed as psychology or cognitive science majors or minors in the registrar's database should be able to preregister through CAESAR for these courses.

Preregistration times are announced by the Registrar's Office. You can preregister for at most two courses.

Wait Lists

Psychology courses are very popular and they often close during registration. What should you do if a course you want to take has closed? You should add yourself to the wait list on CAESAR. If any students drop the course and spots become available, we check the wait list and send emails to students in the order in which they appear on the wait list. We may prioritize Seniors for upper-level courses.

To add courses during the first week of the Winter term, all Psychology courses will require a permission number. Permission numbers are generated by the Undergraduate Program Assistant, with the approval of the professor. In many cases, available slots will be offered to interested students who come to the first class and are nearest the top of the CAESAR wait list.

Registering for PSYCH 205-Research Methods

Students listed in CAESAR as majoring or minoring in psychology, cognitive science, or music cognition may preregister for PSYCH 205. Make sure you have the statistics prerequisite before you enroll. Your records will be evaluated for this requirement and you will be asked to drop the course if you do not have it. Once regular registration starts, any student with the prerequisite may enroll.

Research Courses Requiring Department or Instructor Permission

PSYCH 397-1, 397-2, 398-2, and 399

One great way to learn more about psychological research is to become actively involved in research activities through PSYCH 399-Independent Study or the two-quarter PSYCH 397-Advanced Supervised Research series. This is especially valuable for students considering graduate study in psychology, and it can be an educational and enjoyable experience for others as well.

You can count at most 1 quarter of 397-1 or 399 toward the major. You cannot count both courses. PSYCH 205-Research Methods in Psychology is a prerequisite for PSYCH 397. For more information on 397 and 399, including the differences between them, how they count towards requirements, and tips on finding a research adviser, see our webpage on “Research for Course Credit.”

To enroll in PSYCH 397 or PSYCH 399, download the application, fill it out, and have it signed by the professor with whom you will be working. Then, take the signed application to the department office and a student-specific permission number will be generated. Please note that you must turn in your application and register for the course through CAESAR before the last day to add a class for Winter Quarter, which is Friday, January 6, 2017. **Any application turned in on the last day is not guaranteed a permission number by the registration deadline and will then need approval from the Dean’s Office.**

PSYCH 398 Students who will be taking PSYCH 398-Senior Honors Seminar next quarter will also need permission to enroll. The course will be set up in CAESAR so that only those on the list provided by Dr. Sandra Waxman, the Honors Coordinator, will be able to register for the course.

Special Courses for Winter 2017

In Winter 2017, the Psychology department will offer three sections of PSYCH 314-Special Topics and one section of PSYCH 359-Advanced Seminar in Psychology. The topics for these special courses, as well as their prerequisites, are listed below, along with course descriptions provided by the instructors.

PSYCH 314-20: Special Topics: Psych of Beauty

Instructor: Prof. Renee Engeln

The purpose of this course is to thoughtfully consider psychological theory, methodology, and empirical data relating to questions such as the following: What is it that makes us find beautiful people beautiful? How can evolutionary psychology explain why we find certain features beautiful? Where does this theory fail in terms of predicting perceptions of beauty? Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder? How have beauty ideals shifted over history? How are gender roles and sexual orientation related to beauty and its pursuit? Why is beauty associated with femininity? What cultural biases help those perceived as beautiful and hurt those perceived as lacking in beauty? Are beautiful people happier or more successful? In what ways are beauty standards sometimes destructive? How do cultural standards of beauty affect disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and body dysmorphic disorder?
Prerequisite: PSYCH 110

PSYCH 314-21: Special Topics: Presenting Data and Ideas

Instructor: Prof. Steven Franconeri

The human brain is severely limited in how much it can process and remember. How many times have you watched presenters ignore these limits, producing an information 'fire hose' effect where their audience understands and retains far too little? This class will survey techniques for avoiding this problem in your presentations, by understanding why and where our cognitive and perceptual limitations arise. We will focus on harnessing the power of a processing system that occupies over 40% of your viewer's brain - their visual system. We will explore visual presentation strategies that keep an audience's attention engaged and a speaker's message understood and remembered.
Prerequisites: Undergraduates only

PSYCH 314-22: Special Topics: Sportistics

Instructor: Prof. David Smith

This course will introduce students to the application of statistics to sports, by drawing on literature from sport psychology and statistical applications from the behavioral sciences. A special emphasis will be placed on understanding how basic statistical procedures can aid in objective evaluation of individuals and teams as well as the prediction of outcomes in sporting events. Class meetings will include a mix of lecture, activities, and discussion. Students will also be expected to complete a research project in sports analytics. Readings will include a variety of primary sources. Prerequisites: PSYCH 110

PSYCH 359-0-20: Advanced Seminar in Psychology: The Emotional Brain

Instructor: Prof. Robin Nusslock

This course will provide an overview of the neurobiology of emotion and emotional disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. The course will include discussion of contemporary theories of emotion, 21st century methods for examining the emotional brain (e.g., MRI, EEG), the circuits in the brain underlying our experience of emotion, the biological mechanisms underlying emotional disorders, the mechanisms underlying the treatment of emotional disorders, and future directions in the study of the emotional brain. The course is introductory in nature and it is not expected that students have previous courses in either neurobiology or mood disorders. This course fulfills the upper-level research requirement for the major.
Prerequisites: PSYCH 205


The Undergraduate Psychology Association Exec Board is excited to welcome all new and old Psychology majors and minors! We would also like to introduce and welcome our new Treasurer, Gabriela Gutierrez and Events Coordinator, Kathy Tian. The exec board loved meeting all the new faces of psychology at the Fall Activities Fair and we hope to see many new faces at our upcoming events!

The Undergraduate Psychology Association has an event coming up on November 14, 2016 titled, “How to Make a Better Resume.” A member from Northwestern Career Advancement will be giving a resume presentation that teaches you all that you need to know about how to craft the perfect resume! There will be a brief presentation that reviews essential points on resume building, and a representative from Northwestern Career Advancement will be present to answer any quick questions you have regarding your personal resume. There will also be pizza at the event. Please RSVP so we know how many members will be attending!

Later on in the quarter we are hosting our Fall Psychology Ice Cream social during reading week, in order to get to know other Psychology majors and minors and their favorite ice cream toppings! We are looking forward to seeing lots of new and old faces. More to come soon!

UPA has been working on bringing the organization up to date with the launch of our new website! Here you will find our events and useful links to undergraduate research opportunities as well as for career advancement. We hope that this will help facilitate some direction in finding resources on campus and we are adding new resources weekly. In the future we plan on adding undergraduate research papers from students from research courses such as PSYCH 205, PSYCH 397, and PSYCH 399 who want to share their research with their peers; creating a psychology alumni network; and helping undergraduates prepare for “life after college” through GRE test prep, resume and career building panels, etc.

Always feel free to reach out to the exec board for questions about classes, a major or minor in psychology, or just to chat. We would love to treat you to a cup of coffee and help your Northwestern experience run more smoothly! Looking to become more involved in the organization? We would love to hear your voice and find a way for your skills to be put to work. Have an organization in mind that would like to team up with UPA for an event? We are always open to new ideas! UPA wants to be what you would like to see out of the organization.

To be included on our listserv, please email us at Also, be sure to like our Facebook page “UPA Undergraduate Psychology Association” for current updates on events. We look forward to another great year with you!

–Patsy Castro, UPA President


Are you thinking about doing an internship in some area that interests you? Many psychology students do internships for academic credit through Northwestern’s Chicago Field Studies program. Internships are available with a wide range of Chicago-area businesses and organizations—organizations focused on mental health, education, and other social services, legal and environmental organizations, financial services, health clinics, start-ups, and market research groups, among others. For more on options for psychology students, including a list of sites where psychology students have interned, see our webpage on Psychology and Chicago Field Studies.

Getting practical, hands-on experience in fields you find intriguing can help you see links between your academic studies and real-world issues. It is a good way to learn more about which career paths might be best for you. In addition, it can become a valuable credential when you apply for a job or for graduate study. Keep in mind that many work experiences not labeled as “internships” provide similar opportunities and benefits. See our webpage on Internships and Volunteering for more information and ideas.


Fletcher Undergraduate Research Grant Prize

Nonye Ogbuefi has won the Fletcher URG prize for the most outstanding summer URG project. The award supports excellence in undergraduate education and is generously given by the Fletcher Family Fund.

The Psychology Department Undergraduate Travel Award

The Psychology Department is happy to announce an award to fund student travel to professional conferences. The Undergraduate Travel Award provides funds to students who are majoring in psychology to support them in presenting their work at conferences. The money can be used to pay for conference fees and travel expenses.

Preference will go to students who are first author on the presentation. Applications will be considered on a “rolling” basis. Please submit your applications via e-mail to Sara Broaders at Put "Undergraduate Travel Award" in the subject line of the email. In the email, please include the following information:

Class (e.g., sophomore, junior, senior)
Name of conference
Conference location
Dates of conference
Title of presentation
Author/s on presentation (in order)
Abstract of conference presentation (250 words or less)

In addition to providing this information, please ask your faculty sponsor to write a brief letter of recommendation describing your role in the research. This letter can be emailed to Professor Broaders as well. Please ask your faculty sponsor to put “Undergraduate Travel Award” in the subject line.

Funds for Summer Research

It's not winter yet, but it's also not too soon to start thinking about summer – and about the possibility of spending your summer doing research in our department. Each summer the Psychology Department offers two or more undergraduates a Benton J. Underwood Summer Research Fellowship. Professor Underwood was chair of the Psychology department and a distinguished researcher in the field of memory. He worked to establish the fund that makes these fellowships possible.

Acceptance of an Underwood Fellowship implies a commitment to spend most of your summer working on research here at Northwestern with a Psychology professor. Your exact schedule will be worked out with the professor who supervises your research. Both current juniors and current sophomores can apply for this award. However, priority will be given to current juniors. Work on an Underwood project often serves as the foundation for a senior honors project. (Receipt of an Underwood fellowship does not guarantee acceptance to our Honors program.)

If you are interested in doing research this coming summer, you should look into other funding sources, too. All Underwood applicants should also apply for a Northwestern University Summer Research Grant from the Provost’s Office. Weinberg College also offers funds for summer research by students. Different funding sources have different selection criteria, and applying to more than one will enhance your chances of receiving an award.

To apply for an Underwood Fellowship, follow these steps:

• Choose a faculty member to supervise your research and talk with him or her about what you will be doing and what your time commitment will be. You should also talk with the faculty member about the need for Institutional Review Board approval for your planned project.

• Prepare an application in which you include (a) a statement describing your plans for this research – this can be the same proposal you submit to the university's grants committee; (b) a copy of your transcript (an unofficial
transcript is fine); and (c) information about your general interests in psychology, your relevant course work, your previous research experience, and anything else that you think is relevant.

• Have the faculty member who will supervise your research write a confidential letter of support for your application.

• Get your application and letter of support to Sara Broaders at by Friday, March 10, 2017. This is also the deadline for submitting summer grant applications to the University's Undergraduate Research Grants Committee.


All declared psychology major and minor students are added to our Canvas course site. On the site you can find job postings, research opportunities, and graduate school information. Announcements for on-campus or department-hosted events will be posted here as well. Please check back frequently to stay up to date on NU Psychology news.

To be added to our Canvas site, please contact

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