Online course in Health & Psychology

What Is a Mind?

Explore the most pertinent scientific and philosophical concepts for understanding our own minds with this free online course

  • Duration 6 weeks
  • Weekly study 3 hours

Why join the course?

This free online course will bring together learners and practitioners interested in how the mind works. It aims to build bridges between traditionally antagonistic approaches to understanding the mind.

What is a mind?

This question has perplexed philosophers, scientists, historians and ordinary people across time and cultures.

While advances in the medical understanding of how the brain functions can shed light on neurological functions and disorders, the essential question of what the mind is speaks to a different problem.

This problem cannot be answered by a purely scientific understanding of the brain, nor by a purely philosophical or psychological approach. Many disciplines have attempted to address the question, resulting in multiple and sometimes antithetical answers.

New understandings of the mind

On this course, Professor Mark Solms, Chair of Neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town, will adopt a multidisciplinary approach.

He will bring in perspectives from a range of disciplines, to explore four specific aspects of the mind- subjectivity, intentionality, consciousness and agency. Together, these will help us think about the fundamental questions: what it is to be a mind, why we have a mind and what it feels like to have a mind.

You can find out more in Professor Mark Solms’s posts for the FutureLearn blog: “What is a mind? One of the great mysteries of our time” and “Thinking and feeling: what’s the difference?

Download video: standard or HD

What topics will you cover?

  • Understanding the Mind
  • Subjectivity
  • Consciousness
  • Intentionality and the Unconscious
  • Agency
  • Changing the Mind

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced
Add to Wishlist to be emailed when new dates are announced

Who is the course for?

This course is aimed at anyone with an interest in psychology and the mind. The course will also appeal to practitioners, students and researchers from a range of disciplines, whose work directly or indirectly looks at the mind and the brain. This includes, but is not limited to neuroscience, psychology, psychoanalysis, philosophy, psychiatry and neurology.

What do people say about this course?

All my life I have wanted to do something that would really interest and excite me. I am now 82 and I found the course did both. Some people of my age and younger say that they do not mind dying now, they have enjoyed their lives and lived long enough. I feel the opposite, courses like this make me want to live longer and learn and experience more. The course was made very interesting. Prof. Solms made me think harder than I have ever thought before in order to understand the concepts and, later, to remember them and combine them to answer the quizzes and assignments. Anybody who does the course will owe him a debt of gratitude.

James O'Connor
Class-Central Review

Overall; outstanding. Well structured with good balance of video lecture, articles, quizes etc. Transcripts available to allow reading and listening simultaneously. Well presented in a lucid and entertaining manner. Nicely linked to further info. The best MOOC I have done by a very large margin and one I shall use as a benchmark for the subsequent ones. Thoroughly recommended.

Class-Central Review

Who will you learn with?

Mark Solms

Chair of Neuropsychology at UCT, founder of Neuropsychoanalysis which encompasses the integration of psychoanalytic theories and modern neuroscience

Who developed the course?

The University of Cape Town is one of the leading higher education and research institutions on the African continent and has a tradition of academic excellence that is respected worldwide.

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: