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Exploring psychology

How humans think, develop, and experience the world around us has been fascinating psychologists for over 100 years. Using a historical and biographical framework, this module introduces you to a wide range of psychological approaches, including biological, social, and cognitive psychologies. It looks at areas such as identity, learning, memory, and language. But you won’t just learn about psychological theories, you’ll learn how to do different types of psychological research too. You’ll undertake practical work using quantitative and qualitative research methods and learn to analyse data using statistical software. All in all, Exploring psychology will give you a thorough overview of psychology, relevant to your daily life.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

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
2 9 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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What you will study

This module covers a wide range of psychological theories, concepts and methods and demonstrates how they are typically applied in various contexts. The module explores the scope of contemporary psychology and its historical roots, and assesses the role played by very diverse perspectives on understanding human behaviour and experience.

The module is divided into two parts, each with a different focus and approach. Each part is presented in a book with accompanying software, video and audio material on CD-ROM, DVD, DVD-ROM and online.

Book 1, Mapping Psychology, is in two parts and together with its linked materials makes up about two thirds of the module. The book maps out a basic set of approaches to psychology (e.g. cognitive, biological, social, individual differences) and provides you with a conceptual ‘bag of tools’ – the basic equipment needed to start mapping psychology in the twenty-first century.

Book 2, Challenging Psychological Issues, and its associated materials, make up the last part of the module and build on the foundations presented in the first book. Book 2 presents three topics that epitomise current debates about what is ‘distinctively human’ psychology. The discussion of each topic (lifespan development, language and meaning, and sex and gender) draws on theories and empirical research from the biological, cognitive and social-psychological approaches introduced in Book 1.

Accompanying both Books 1 and 2 is a third book, Exploring Psychological Research Methods, which takes you through the range of methods employed by psychologists to investigate questions in psychology, and gives you an introduction to designing both quantitative and qualitative research projects and to gathering and analysing data. A separate online booklet will guide you through using a computer for performing statistical analyses so that you develop information technology skills in handling and analysing data. An online workbook that accompanies the main texts develops study skills such as using evidence, understanding the research process, structuring an argument, writing essays and undertaking critical evaluation.

Associated residential school module

The 15-credit residential school module Exploring psychology project (DXR222) and its online version Exploring psychology online project (DZX222), offer tuition and activities that support and extend the academic aims of this module. For further information on which module is the most suitable for you, see DXR222 or DZX222: Making the right choice. If you want to count DSE212 towards an Open University qualification, you may need to include either DXR222 or DZX222 as well. 

If you decide to attend the residential school, you must register for DXR222 or DZX222 separately, for which an additional fee is payable.

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 may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module.

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 will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

Two assignments are based on project work. Assessment is an essential part of the teaching, so you are expected to complete it all. You will be given more detailed information when you begin the module.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2014 and February 2015 when it will be available for the last time.

Two new 60-credit modules – Investigating psychology 2 (DE200) and Living psychology: from the everyday to the extraordinary (DD210) – are planned for October 2015.


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:

6 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.


This is an OU level 2 module. Prior to studying this module you should have obtained the necessary study skills to study at OU level 2, either by completing relevant level 1 study with the OU (e.g. in a social science) or by doing equivalent work at another university, but you are not expected to have any special knowledge of psychology.

This module will be available for the last time in February 2015, so if you don’t yet have the necessary study skills, we recommend that you first study Introducing the social sciences (DD102) and Investigating psychology 1 (DE100) to prepare you for our new level 2 psychology modules, planned from October 2015. These new modules will require both general study skills and some specialist knowledge of psychology.

You are expected to have some basic knowledge of how to use a computer, so that you can for instance use the mouse or keyboard to open a document or program, navigate around a standard screen and windows on a PC, print a document and use a word processor. Guidance is provided on installing software.

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


Start End England fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015 £2632.00

Registration closes 08/01/15 (places subject to availability)


The deadline for financial support applications has now passed

February 2015 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

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.  

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 fee and funding information provided here is valid for courses starting before 31 July 2015. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation. Fees for courses starting from 1 August 2015 will be available in March 2015.
This information was provided on 18/12/2014.

What's included

Text books, other printed materials, DVD, DVD-ROM, CD-ROM and website.

You will need

The ability to play DVDs.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module. It includes online activities – you can access using a web browser – and some module software provided on disk.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer running Windows since 2008 you should have no problems completing the computer-based activities.
  • A netbook, tablet or other mobile device is not suitable for this module – check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you have an Apple Mac or Linux computer – please note that you can only use it for this module by running Windows on it using Boot Camp or a similar dual-boot system.

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

If you have a disability

Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of the printed study materials are available, although some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader.  The printed study materials are available in comb-bound format and as audio in the DAISY Digital Talking Book format.  Transcripts are available for the audio-visual material. 

Students with visual impairments may benefit from the assistance of a sighted helper when working with the statistical software CD-ROM. Elements of this module are delivered online and through CD-ROMs. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer or the internet and have 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.

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.