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Module PPP-1001:
Psychology as a Science

Module Facts

Run by School of Psychology

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Paloma Mari-Beffa

Overall aims and purpose

This module will provide an introduction to the Philosophy of Science with the specific aim of addressing the question of whether psychology can be regarded as a science. The aim of this module is to provide the student with an opportunity to debate some of the most fundamental questions relevant to the scientific investigation of human behaviour.

Course content

Students will gain an insight into the history of psychology, consider the complicated issue of research ethics, explore the key distinctions between science and pseudoscience, and critically evaluate the process of hypothesis testing.

Students can expect feedback on their work in this module in the following ways: • Self-feedback through the feedforward session focusing on preparing the draft essay • Tutor feedback (verbal) in the essay feed-forward session focusing on preparing the draft essay • Tutor feedback (written – no grade) through the feedback rubric and comments written on the draft essay exploring whether psychology is a science • Tutor feedback (grade only) on the final essay (Assignment 2) • Tutor feedback (grade only) on the final exam answers as well as the opportunity to meet with the lecturer during an open office time to discuss your own exam performance. • Open invite to meet with tutor at any point during the module to discuss on-going performance, assignment results, etc.

In response to student feedback received in the previous academic year, those elements of the module that received positive feedback will be maintained and those areas identified for possible improvement will be analysed over the summer in order to make appropriate changes for the next academic year.

Assessment Criteria


Adequate answer to the question, largely based on lecture material. No real development of arguments.


Reasonably comprehensive coverage. Well organised and structured. Good understanding of the material.


Comprehensive and accurate coverage of the area clarity of argument and expression. Depth of insight into theoretical issues.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate an understanding and appreciation for the history of psychology (History of Psychology).

  2. Outline the minimal standards of ethical approval by the British Psychological Society and discuss how these standards apply to modern research in psychology (Research Ethics)

  3. Discuss the demarcation problem with specific focus on the location of psychology with regards to the boundary between science and pseudoscience (Demarcation)

  4. Discuss the progression of scientific knowledge and understanding (Scientific Progression)

  5. Discuss the importance of hypothesis testing (Hypothesis Testing)

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY Draft Essay 20
ESSAY Final Essay 40
EXAM Final exam 40

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Lecture 22
Private study 78

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Understand the scientific underpinnings of psychology as a discipline.
  • Apply multiple perspectives to psychological issues and integrate ideas and findings across the multiple perspectives in psychology.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in written form.
  • Retrieve and organise information effectively.
  • Handle primary source material critically.
  • Work effectively under pressure (time pressure, limited resources, etc) as independent and pragmatic learners.
  • Reason scientifically and demonstrate the relationship between theory and evidence.


Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: