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Advancing social psychology

Social psychologists study people as social beings, looking at their relationships and shared experiences in context. This module focuses on contemporary UK society and life as a 21st century person in a changing world. The module explores current issues, including gender, multiculturalism, immigration, global conflicts and work. It also adopts a critical perspective towards psychology itself. You will learn about recent research findings and different social psychological theories and approaches. As preparation for future study, work and life activities, you will develop the academic and communication skills you need to study independently and follow your own interests.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

Browse qualifications in related subjects

Module

Module code
DD317
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
60
Study level

Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.

OU SCQF FHEQ
3 10 6
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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What you will study

The module discusses social psychology's insights into life and people in a contemporary globalised world. It explores the new developments and interdisciplinary boundaries of social psychology today. The study programme is divided into an introduction, five main blocks and a conclusion, with additional weeks for review and revision. 

The first block, Social psychology for a contemporary society, asks: How are we changed by our changing world? What can social psychology tell us about life today, and contemporary people? What do social psychologists contribute to discussions of ‘big issues’, like globalisation, new media and surveillance technologies, mobility and migration, political change and economic crises? The block also considers the power of psychology itself, looking at ways that psychological knowledge has impacted on our daily lives. The areas of social psychology covered in this block include: 

  • critical social psychology 
  • critical social research
  • social psychology linked to theories of the subject.

The second block, New encounters across cultures in a globalised world,  explores the relationships between individuals and cultures in modern diverse societies. Looking at the encounters between people in a world of increased mobility, the block asks: What happens when different cultures meet? What are the potential barriers? Can intercultural dialogue be achieved? You will study how new encounters can lead to both conflicts and positive cultural mixing. The block also asks: What are the politics of identity and difference in today’s mobile society? The approaches covered include:

  • sociocultural psychology 
  • social representations theory. 

The third block, Social psychology and participation: understanding and effecting change,  looks at how people ‘get involved’ as members of society or citizens. It studies the ways that they join together to produce social change. These include everyday actions, such as voting, as well as more extreme forms of political action, for example, in contexts of conflict and uprising. The block asks: What drives people to join large scale protest movements? And how is their participation affected by social media? The block also investigates how social psychology itself has contributed to social action and change. The approaches covered include: 

  • political psychology
  • liberation psychology 
  • the social identity approach

The fourth block, A contemporary subject, centres on the idea that the person studied by psychologists is socially produced. This again raises questions about similarity and difference, and how free we are to choose who we want to be. The block asks how huge recent changes in work and employment have impacted on our lives and identities, comparing the ‘good’ workers of today with workers of the past. It discusses gender, looking at research on ‘new’ femininities and masculinities in contemporary society. It discusses happiness and suggests that the goal of being happy is more complicated than it appears! The approaches covered include:

  • social constructionism
  • critical discursive psychology
  • 'a psychology of the second order'
  • positive psychology. 

The fifth block, Threats and fears, centres on one of the most famous areas of psychology, the theories of psychodynamics and psychoanalysis which originated in the work of Sigmund Freud. The block considers these not in relation to therapeutic practice but for their application to society more generally. It offers psychoanalytic re-interpretations of classic psychological topics like bystander behaviour. You will read accounts of ongoing conflicts (like Israel-Palestine) and explanations of people’s fears and responses to contemporary threats. The areas covered include:

  • psychoanalysis
  • psychodynamics
  • psychosocial studies.

This module delivers this content through blended tuition including online material and two textbooks. Assessment is through assignments and an exam. You will read the module's own textbook chapters and other published material. You will watch videos and listen to interviews with leading international scholars, do online activities and participate in forums. You will develop your academic and communication skills. You will also spend time working independently, for example, to search for more information about the areas of social psychology that you find especially interesting. 

You will learn

From studying this module you will learn about:

  • continuing developments in key theories and approaches in social psychology
  • applications of social psychological knowledge to contemporary socio-political issues in global societies
  • new social psychological and interdisciplinary research.

Vocational relevance

This module will be of value to psychologists and other social scientists seeking to expand their knowledge of contemporary social psychology theory and research. The module will also be of value to students wishing to develop their understanding of recent academic work on 21st century social issues. The module will develop key employability and life skills of critical reading, writing, giving feedback, and setting and following independent study goals. It will also develop the academic skills required for further postgraduate studies and/or research in psychology and cognate disciplines.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will guide your learning and provide feedback on your work. You can ask your tutor for advice and help with the study material. Tuition will take place across a range of media, including online tutorials, face to face tutorials and online forums.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Future availability

Advancing social psychology starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2026.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Essential Documents website.

    Course work includes:

    5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
    Examination
    No residential school


    Entry requirements

    This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from previous studies at OU levels 1 and 2 with the OU. They are only intended for students with recent experience of higher education in a related subject.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

    Register

    Start End England fee Register
    06 Oct 2018 Jun 2019 £2928.00

    Registration closes 13/09/18 (places subject to availability)

    Register
    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2026.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).


    For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time convenient to you.


    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2019. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 21/07/2018.

    What's included

    The study materials include two textbooks, and an online study guide which appears on the module website. Audio-visual materials, activities and links for further reading are also available online.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • macOS 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying DD317 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Overcoming barriers to study if you have a disability or health condition website.