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Module PPP-2017:
Concepts in Psychology

Module Facts

Run by School of Psychology

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Stephanie Baines

Overall aims and purpose

The emphasis of this course will be on providing students with a conceptual and historical understanding of psychology and how it has developed into the academic discipline that it is today. The focus of the course will be on theoretical understandings of psychology – where psychology as a science pursues finding of new things through experimentation and scientific endeavour, this course will focus on how these findings are understood and interpreted using classic and contemporary theories. The module will explore the social and cultural construction of psychology, including theories on gender, politics and ethics, and will show how psychology may operate as a powerful form of knowledge. The module will also look at more contemporary issues in psychology such as the emergence of self-help literature, all the while linking these into our understanding of the discipline of psychology in its entirety.

Course content

This module will cover the following topics: - Review of history and perspectives in psychology including discussion of psychology as a scientific discipline.
- A brief history of the main concepts and paradigms in psychology and how they contribute to the field as it stands today - Introduction to theories in understanding psychology focusing on social and cultural construction of psychology - Cross-cultural psychology - Free will and consciousness - Ethics and how it has shaped knowledge and the discipline as a whole

Assessment Criteria


  • Comprehensive and accurate coverage of the area with clarity of argument and expression. Depth of insight into theoretical issues.
  • Deep understanding of theoretical underpinnings of discipline of psychology and integration into contemporary psychology
  • In depth understanding theories and conceptual and historical issues and ability to explain several similarities and differences between them
  • Evidence that the student’s understanding does not only rely on lecture material but is also based on core texts and additional reading of recommended papers.


  • Adequate answers or writing to the question, largely based on lecture material. No real development of arguments.
  • Basic understanding of theoretical underpinnings of discipline of psychology
  • Adequate knowledge about theories and conceptual and historical issues and some ability to compare and contrast them


  • Reasonably comprehensive coverage of the topic. Well organised and structured writing. Good understanding of the material and good demonstration of ability to critically evaluate concepts.
  • Good understanding theories and conceptual and historical issues and ability to explain several similarities and differences between them.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate an understanding on how ethics and knowledge have shaped the discipline

  2. Critically evaluate contemporary psychology, e.g., self-help movement, using classical and contemporary theories

  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of theoretical underpinnings of psychology as well as scientific principles.

  4. Reflect on how contemporary and historical issues impact contemporary psychology

  5. Demonstrate the ability to integrate ideas and empirical findings within different areas of psychology

  6. Demonstrate an understanding of the social and cultural construction of psychology as a discipline

  7. Demonstrate an ability to compare and critique conceptual and historical paradigms and models

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Written assignment, including essay Written Assignment 50
EXAM Final Exam 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study 78

Two hour lecture each week


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • 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.
  • Be sensitive and react appropriately to contextual and interpersonal psychological factors.
  • Use effectively personal planning and project management skills.
  • Work effectively under pressure (time pressure, limited resources, etc) as independent and pragmatic learners.
  • Problem-solve by clarifying questions, considering alternative solutions, making critical judgements, and evaluating outcomes.
  • Reason scientifically and demonstrate the relationship between theory and evidence.
  • Employ evidence-based reasoning and examine practical, theoretical and ethical issues associated with the use of different methodologies, paradigms and methods of analysis in psychology.
  • Be aware of ethical principles and approval procedures.


Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: