MSc Course Module

Approaches to Consciousness


The questions we raise below are at the core of your studies when you explore Approaches to Consciousness.


Consciousness is the essential spark of what it means to be human, yet so much about it remains mysterious. Contemporary neuroscientific research has advanced our grasp of many features of conscious processing, but has not answered the fundamental question regarding the basis of consciousness.

As the influential philosopher, John Hick puts it, consciousness is “the great elephant in the materialist’s room.” We need to recognise that the essence of consciousness may transcend the material basis of mind as generally understood.

Accordion Content
    1. Be guided through the many approaches to understanding consciousness that are at the forefront of research and scholarship today.
    2. Learn how current scientific theories connect to insights from a variety of spiritual and mystical traditions, as well as how the two seemingly disparate fields of science and spirituality might come together to create a “sacred science” of consciousness.
    3. Join with all students in our learning community in discussing the many issues raised by contemporary research into consciousness.
    4. Enjoy live webinars and interactive forums with the module leader, Dr. Bethany Butzer as well as the module tutors.
    5. Explore the science of consciousness via three main content sections:
      1) The Fundamentals, which includes an introduction to philosophical approaches to consciousness as well as considerations around how our beliefs about the nature of reality impact our perspectives on consciousness;
      2) Neuroscientific approaches to consciousness, including a consideration of potential links between neuroscience and mysticism;
      3) Spiritual and mystical approaches to consciousness, including debates over “pure consciousness” and perspectives from spiritual traditions such as Buddhism.

Course Leader and Tutor Team

Bethany Butzer

Bethany Butzer, PhD

Assistant Director of the Alef Trust PhD Programme in Applied
Transpersonal Psychology and Lecturer for the Alef Trust MSc in Consciousness,
Spirituality & Transpersonal Psychology.

Laurel Waterman, PhD Candidate

Laurel Waterman is a Ph.D. Candidate in Curriculum and Pedagogy, Wellbeing Emphasis, at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto.

Alef Trust Team - Matt Colborn

Matt Colborn, D.Phil

Matt holds an MSc. with Distinction in cognitive science from the University of Birmingham and a D.Phil in biology from the University of Sussex. His book “Pluralism and the Mind: Consciousness, Worldviews and the Limits of Science” was published in 2011 to favourable reviews.

Dr. Jack Hunter

Dr. Jack Hunter is an anthropologist exploring the borderlands of consciousness, religion, ecology and the paranormal.

Enquire now for February 2024

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