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Evaluating psychology: research and practice

This module examines how cognitive, social, counselling and forensic psychology research fosters understanding and helps to solve real-world problems in three domains - the home, workplace and society. In this module, you'll focus on socially relevant topics that showcase the research and methodological expertise of the School of Psychology. You'll become equipped to evaluate psychological knowledge claims, theories, research (studies and methods) and applications, creating educated consumers/commissioners of psychological research. You'll also have the opportunity to engage in an independent project. By the end of the module, you'll have gained the confidence to use advanced psychological knowledge to participate in public debate and policy development.

Vocational relevance

The module has vocational relevance for anyone who feels that an advanced understanding of cognitive, social, counselling and forensic psychology topics will complement their existing skills and knowledge, and broaden their professional perspective. This includes working in business, human resources, health (physical and mental), education, social work, the legal and criminal justice system, government departments, and third sector organisations.


DD803 is a compulsory module in our:

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, check with an adviser before registering.


Module code


  • 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.
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 postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

Following on from Principles of social and psychological inquiry (DD801), this module provides an advanced understanding of topics drawn from four specialisms in psychology: Cognitive, Social, Counselling and Forensic.

Topics will include: Expertise, Visual Perception, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Panic Attacks, Sexual Harassment, Motherhood, Paedophilia and Child Witnesses. There will also be content on psychology research methods, both quantitative and qualitative, and material on how to use psychological research findings to create impact, not only in academic contexts but also in terms of policy and public awareness.

This module develops an orientation to Psychology which aims to have real world, personal and employment relevance for you whatever your background or undergraduate degree. The module is organised around three areas - home, work and public -  focusing on topics that are of strong contemporary relevance and which are highly engaging for potential students like you.

The module will focus on the application of Psychology to real-world issues – and prioritise the inclusion of active research being conducted in the Open University’s School of Psychology. This real-world issue framing means that you will always be directly focussed on evaluating the extent to which Psychology can make a contribution to the world we all live in.

The module also offers you the opportunity to engage in an independent project/dissertation portfolio on a topic that you will choose with guidance from a specialist dissertation tutor. In addition to support from your tutor the learning materials are designed to prepare you for your dissertation project by systematically teaching the skills you need to carry out this project, as you go through the module. The project will take the form of an extensive literature review and discussion. You will also be asked to create outputs to inform a lay or professional audience about your findings. You will not carry out your own primary data collection or research.

Completing this module will equip you to evaluate psychological knowledge claims, theories, research (studies and methods) and applications. In doing so you will become an educated user and (potentially) commissioner of psychological research. The module will also enable you to confidently use advanced psychological knowledge to participate in public debate and public policy development, and to communicate advice to a variety of specialist and non-specialist audiences in complex situations.

This module is suitable if you are interested in psychology regardless of whether or not you have previously studied the subject. While it will be of interest to those who have a BSc in Psychology, it is also suited to those who might not have previous qualifications in psychology but work in related areas, and who feel that knowing more about psychological topics will complement their existing skills and knowledge.

You will learn

By studying this module you will learn how to: 

  • read, critically evaluate and apply research in cognitive, counselling, forensic and social psychology
  • conduct a comprehensive literature search
  • write a literature review
  • select journal articles/research relevant to applied questions
  • write a report for different audiences (e.g. policy makers, charities, the public)
  • effectively present information to different types of audience effectively (e.g. other academics, practitioners, or policy makers

You will also learn about the: 

  • relevance of academic research in cognitive, counselling, forensic and social psychology for real world issues/cases
  • key concepts and research in cognitive, counselling, forensic and social psychology

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will be supported throughout your studies by a tutor who has relevant knowledge of psychology. You will be allocated one tutor who will support you through the topic weeks of the module, and a second tutor who will provide you with specialist support for your dissertation project. Teaching is all online and will be delivered via online tutorials, forum interactions and where needed, email contact.

Contact us 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 must use the online eTMA system to submit most of your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) and the assessment system to submit one of your tutor-marked assignments. Your assignment guidance will tell you which method of submission you should use for each assignment.

Professional recognition

This module is part of the MSc in Psychology (F74) which is not suitable for psychology graduates who specifically want to achieve British Psychological Society recognised status as a chartered Forensic or Counselling Psychologist. Students wishing to pursue Chartership are advised to seek out an accredited MSc (Forensic Psychology) or Professional Doctorate (Counselling Psychology) programme. Psychology graduates with ambitions to pursue a PhD in Psychology should consider the merits of a psychological research methods MSc.

Course work includes

6 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Future availability

Evaluating psychology: research and practice starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2020. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2027.


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

    Entry requirements

    This module cannot be studied on a stand-alone basis. To register you will need to have successfully completed Principles of social and psychological inquiry (DD801), and satisfied the entry requirements for MSc in Psychology (F74).

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


    Start End England fee Register
    03 Oct 2020 Oct 2021 -

    Registration now closed

    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2027.

    Future availability

    Evaluating psychology: research and practice starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2020. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2027.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

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

    Ways to pay for this module

    We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

    That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. To find out more, see Fees and funding.

    Study materials

    What's included

    The module is delivered entirely online. Comprehensive guidance and support is available via a module website which includes:

    • a week-by-week online study planner
    • course-specific module materials
    • online tutorial access to tutor group forums and tutor-led learning events
    • audio and video content
    • access to OU library services.

    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 an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.

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

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    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

    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 where applicable: musical notation and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way). Other alternative formats of the module materials may be available in the future. Where independent literature searches are conducted the module team cannot guarantee that all materials found via the library are screen reader compatible, however there will always be sufficient alternatives to ensure students can complete compulsory assignments.

    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. Visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer.