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Psychology in Society - EDU00070M

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  • Department: Education
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Sophie Von Stumm
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2021-22

Module aims

The module has two main aims:

1. Develop students’ knowledge of key findings and debates in social psychology;

2. Support students in exploring how psychology has evolved as a discipline since its inception, and how the definition, practice and application of psychological research has influenced (and been influenced by) the societies in which it has been conducted.

The module will expose students to ideas and evidence from social psychology that will enable them to consider how the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours of individuals are influenced by their social context. They will also explore theoretical and empirical evidence that will help them to consider the self in relation to others, and to explore how the social make-up of schools and factors such as friendships, bullying, gender, teacher-child relationships, ethnic mix and ability grouping can be associated with both teaching and learning.

Students will be introduced to historical and conceptual issues in psychology, and will be supported in developing a nuanced understanding of the relationship between social and historical context and the development and practice of psychological science. They will also be supported in developing their knowledge and understanding of the ethical issues that must be considered in the conduct and interpretation of social psychology research, and how ethical policies and expectations have developed over time.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

By the end of this module students will have developed:

· Broad knowledge, and a nuanced understanding, of social psychology and the application of psychological research in a social context.

· Academic skills and subject knowledge that will enable them to consider social cognition and perception in educational contexts.

  • Capacity to critique research in social psychology fairly and effectively, particularly in light of the ‘replication crisis’.
  • Capacity to analyse different perspectives on perceptions of self and perceptions of others.
  • Knowledge and understanding sufficient for them to confidently describe and discuss the development of psychology as a discipline in terms of its historical and conceptual roots.
  • Critical evaluation skills applied to the evolution of social psychological research (and more broadly, psychological research) over the past 150 years.
  • Understanding of ethical issues in the design, conduct and interpretation of psychological research, and a historical perspective on the development of current expectations.

Academic and graduate skills

Students will have learned how to:

  • Use effective literature searching techniques to identify social psychology research, and research on conceptual and historical issues in psychology, that is relevant to particular topics or questions.
  • Formulate and present a persuasive articulate academic argument that is well supported and well structured.
  • Critically evaluate existing research for reliability and validity, particularly in light of the ‘replication crisis’, and consider practical implications of psychological evidence.
  • Make a case for the contribution psychology can make to society, and explore the reputation of psychological science in a range of contexts.
  • Communicate complex ideas effectively in an oral presentation.

Module content

The module content is structured so that it incrementally builds up students’ knowledge of both social psychology, and conceptual and historical issues in psychology, to the extent that they will be in a strong position to consider their relevance to education by the end of the module.

Students will be taught in weekly 2 hour lectures. The following outline is representative of the lectures that will be given but may be subject to small changes.

Week 2 - Introduction to social psychology

  • Social cognition and social perception

Week 3 - The self: Understanding ourselves in a social context

  • Self and identity in historical context
  • Self in cultural context (Markus & Kitayama, 1991)
  • Self-awareness and self-knowledge
  • Social identity theories

Week 4 - Attitudes and attitude change

  • Function of attitudes
  • The False Consensus bias (Koriat et al., 2016; Ross, Greene, & House, 1977)
  • Attitudes and prediction of behaviour
  • Measuring attitudes (scales, physiological measures, implicit measures)

Week 5 - Conformity and group processes

  • Obedience, conformity and the Stanford Prison Experiment (Haslam & Reicher’s 2015 response to Zimbardo)
  • Types of social influences
  • Changing crowd structures in school and effects on individuals
  • Norms and group socialisation
  • Ethical issues in social psychological research

Week 6 - Prosocial and anti-social behaviour

  • Why do people help?
  • Bullying and bystanders (research by Olweus)
  • Volunteering and helping
  • Aggression: definitions, measurement, and theories
  • Societal influences on aggression

Week 7 - The evolution of psychology from philosophy to science

  • Is psychology a science?

  • The birth of psychology

  • The impact of World War II

  • Early studies

Week 8 - The history of social psychology

  • The birth of social psychology

  • Social cognition

  • The replication crisis in social psychology

Week 9 - Social psychology today and in the future

  • Social cognition today

  • Social neuroscience

  • How to solve the replication crisis

Week 10 - Cross-cultural psychology

  • Issues of measurement

  • Cross cultural studies on the self

  • Cross cultural studies on theory of mind

  • Cross cultural studies on social influence




Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3500 Words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3500 Words
N/A 100

Module feedback

For the first formative assessment (oral presentation) written feedback will be provided by email within one week of the presentation.

For the second formative assessment (essay plan), feedback will be provided within two weeks.

For the summative assessment detailed written feedback will be provided on a standardized assignment report sheet. The feedback is returned to students in line with university policy. Please check the Guide to Assessment, Standards, Marking and Feedback for more information.

Face to face feedback on performance in this module will be provided in supervision meetings.

Indicative reading

Hogg, M.A. and Vaughan, G.M. (2010) Essentials of social psychology. Essex: Pearson.

Hughes, B. M. (2012). Conceptual and historical issues in psychology. Pearson.

Babad, E. (2009).The social psychology of the classroom. Oxon: Routledge

Pritchard, A., & Woollard, J. (2013). Psychology for the Classroom: The Social Context. Routledge.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.