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Discovering psychology

Drawing on a wide range of studies and some classic pieces of psychological research, this key introductory OU level 1 module provides an accessible and engaging introduction to the study of psychology. Discovering psychology explores the different ways in which psychologists investigate the human mind and behaviour, and shows you how psychological research addresses real-life issues. You will be provided with a textbook and access to a website containing an online study guide, audio-visual material and interactive activities which are designed to help you develop your knowledge and skills.

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

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Module code
Study level
1 7 4
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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What you will study

Discovering psychology introduces the diversity and breadth of approaches in the discipline of psychology and the many different ways psychologists study the human mind and behaviour. 

Discovering psychology has 30 weeks of study and two weeks set aside for holiday. The study weeks commence from the above start date, and you will need to set aside between eleven and fifteen hours of study time for each of these weeks. 

The module is organised into three parts:

Part 1 explores why people do harm to others. Using this as an example, you’ll look at how human behaviour may be influenced by personality and situational factors, and the ways in which learning also plays a role.

Part 2 focuses on what determines human behaviour more widely, including the role of evolution and the importance of social relations. The topics you will cover include: What makes people change their behaviour? What is the basis of a child’s attachment to its caregivers? How important is friendship, especially in childhood?

Part 3 centres on a key question in psychology – how can we study psychological processes that cannot be directly observed, such as language, attention or memory? 

The module is built around a textbook Investigating Psychology and a website containing activities and audio-visual material that will form part of your core study time. There is also an online study guide which will guide you through your studies.

The online material will extend your understanding of the topics and issues discussed in the book in a number of different ways:

  • the audio-visual material picks up on specific questions addressed in each chapter
  • the interactive exercises will develop your understanding of the research methods used in psychology and will help you consolidate your understanding of key psychological concepts
  • the online activities will help you develop the skills needed for your own learning.

The website also provides guidance on further study, and resources on how psychology is used in a range of workplaces and careers.

You will learn

You will learn about:

  • some of the topics that psychologists investigate
  • how the research process develops from asking questions, through collecting evidence to evaluating the findings.

You will develop skills in:

  • accessing and interpreting information
  • constructing arguments
  • presenting and communicating information.

You will develop the skill of managing your time effectively by organising your work to meet a schedule. You will also have the opportunity to reflect on a study pathway leading to personal and/or career goals.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We will offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module. We will also offer online tutorials that you are encouraged to participate in.

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


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

You can choose whether to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) on paper or online through the eTMA system. You may want to use the eTMA system for some of your assignments but submit on paper for others. This is entirely your choice.

The end-of-module assessment (EMA) must be submitted online via the eTMA system.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in February 2014 when it will be available for the last time. A new 60-credit module Investigating psychology 1 (DE100), covering a similar area, will be available from October 2014.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

Course work includes:

2 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school


This is a key introductory OU level 1 module. OU level 1 modules provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning, to help you progress to level 2 study.

Although you can study this module on its own, it is designed to follow on from the 30-credit module Introducing the social sciences – part 1 (DD131).  These two modules will be available for the last time in February 2014.

If your study goal is a degree in psychology, we strongly recommend that you start your studies with the 60-credit module Introducing the social sciences (DD102), which is currently the first module students study for that degree. This will prepare you for further studies in psychology, including our new 60-credit OU level 1 module Investigating psychology (DE100) available from October 2014.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.


Start End Fee
- - -

No current presentation - see Future availability

This module is expected to start for the last time in February 2014.

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 annual fees and spreads them out over up to a year, enabling you to pay your fees monthly and walk away with a qualification without any further debt. APR 5.1% representative.

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

Employer sponsorship

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

More than one in 10 OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the qualification 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 modules.  

For more information about employer sponsorship speak to an adviser or request a call back.

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. 

Gift vouchers

You can pay for part or all of your tuition fees with OU gift vouchers. Vouchers are currently available in the following denominations, £10, £20, £50 and £100. 

Mixed payments

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

For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or request a call back.

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 based upon current details for  year 1 August 2014 to 31 July 2015.
This information was provided on 23/07/2014.

What's included

Textbook, other printed materials and website containing an online study guide, audio-visual material and activities.

You will need

As part of this module you will need to watch short online videos, listen to audio files and participate in online activities.  For this reason we recommend broadband access to the internet.  Alternatively, you can request a DVD/CD of the video and audio files via StudentHome after the module start date – we will provide more details when you register.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2008 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.7 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information (including details of the support we provide).

If you have a disability

This module includes a website and the use of tools such as online activities and audio-visual files. If you use specialist software or hardware to assist you in using a personal computer or the internet and have any concerns about accessing this type of material you are advised to talk to the Student Registration & Enquiry Service about support which can be given to meet your needs.

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and scientific, diagrammatic and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Paper versions of the online study materials are available on request via the regional office. Also, audio CDs and a DVD of the audio and video materials can be ordered via a link on the StudentHome page. 

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.