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Encountering psychology in context

This module offers an accessible and engaging introduction to classic and contemporary psychological theory and research applied to a broad range of contexts. You'll encounter core areas of psychology as set out by the British Psychological Society (e.g. social, cognitive, developmental, biological) and applied aspects of professional practice (e.g. forensic, counselling). You will learn how psychologists have studied topics that directly affect people's lives, in areas such as criminal justice, family life, ageing, and brain injury. You'll also explore how psychology can inform our understanding of magic and misdirection, performance, and how people develop across the lifespan.

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.

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Module

Module code
D120
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
1 7 4
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

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What you will study

This module introduces core areas of psychology including biological, cognitive, developmental and social psychology and considers how these can be applied to understand real-world issues. The relationship between psychological theory and application is also explored in topics linked to forensic psychology and counselling. The module introduces a range of research methods that are used to answer questions in psychology and provides students with practical experience of analysing data using qualitative and quantitative methods, and of gathering data for a psychological research study.

The first block introduces the psychology of relating in different contexts. This includes a focus on intimate relationships, family lives, work and relating positively (altruism and cooperation) in the social world.  

Block 2 picks up the key ideas from Block 1 that tap into notions of emotional states (e.g. love, positive feeling) and ground them in the psychology of emotion and feelings. You'll explore a range of emotional states including those associated with negative affect (stress, fear). Across this block links will be made between emotion and mental health, including how psychology informs mental health interventions.

Block 3 explores a number of different settings in which psychological research has been applied to the criminal justice system. This includes examining how psychological research has informed our understanding of why people commit crimes, how police gain information from suspects, how people make decisions about criminal actions, and how mental states influence legal outcomes.

Block 4 explores the relationship between brain and behaviour and considers how biological evidence can inform psychological theories. You'll be introduced to the relationship between biological and psychological processes, and examines how studies of brain damage, neurodiversity and ageing can be used to advance theoretical knowledge and challenge taken-for-granted concepts of biological universality.

In Block 5 you'll re-encounter topics and concepts from earlier in the module in exciting new contexts. This will help you build on the knowledge gained throughout the module, combining this with new topics, insights and perspectives that show how psychology can contribute to an understanding of performance, development across the lifespan, and magic.

The module materials include a two-volume textbook and an extensive module website built around an online study guide. The website contains further teaching to support the chapters in the textbook. The teaching on the website includes video and audio interviews with key psychologists featured in the material and a variety of interactive activities to help develop and consolidate your knowledge. You'll also spend some of your study time using online resources from The Open University library.

Professional recognition

This is one of the core modules in our British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited degrees in psychology.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part.

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).

You must also submit your end-of-module assessment (EMA) online.

Future availability

Encountering psychology in context starts twice a year – in February and October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2023 and February 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in February 2034.

Regulations

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.

    Course work includes:

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


    Entry requirements

    This is an 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 OU level 2 study.

    Although this module builds on concepts first introduced in Exploring psychological worlds: thinking, feeling, doing (D110) that is planned for October 2023, if you have taken other OU level 1 introductory modules or are taking it on a standalone basis you will be able to/be supported to engage with the materials equally well.

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

    Register

    Start End Fee
    - - -

    No current presentation - see Future availability

    This module is expected to start for the last time in February 2033.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

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

    If your income is not more than £25,000 or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, 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, Mastercard, Visa 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).


    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 2023. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 09/02/2023.

    Can you study an Access module for free?

    In order to qualify you must:

    1. be resident in England
    2. have a personal income of less than £25,000 (or receive qualifying benefits)
    3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above, or completed 30 credits or more of OU study

    How to apply to study an Access module for free

    Once you've started the registration process , either online or over the phone, we'll contact you about your payment options. This will include instructions on how you can apply to study for free if you are eligible.

    If you're unsure if you meet the criteria to study for free, you can check with one of our friendly advisers on +44 (0)300 303 0069 or you can request a call back.

    Not eligible to study for free?

    Don't worry! We offer a choice of flexible ways to help spread the cost of your Access module. The most popular options include:

    • monthly payments through OUSBA
    • part-time tuition fee loan (you'll need to be registered on a qualification for this option)

    To explore all the options available to you, visit Fees and Funding.

    What's included

    You'll be provided with two text books, statistical analysis software (SPSS) and have access to a module website which includes:

    • a week-by-week study planner
    • module materials
    • audio-visual content
    • assessment guide
    • online tutorials and forums
    • links for further study.

    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. Mobile devices and computing devices that do not meet the specs listed below​, including Chromebook laptops or tablets running the Linux -based Chrome OS as its operating system,​ will not be able to install or run the SPSS statistics software required and thus are not suitable​ for parts of this module. Inability to use SPSS will prevent you from passing the module.

    Additional software will be provided, including the SPSS statistics program. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run this software on a desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows (10 or 11)
    • macOS (11 'Big Sur' or higher)
    • 3GB hard drive free space and 4GB of RAM

    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 module websites comply with web standards and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

    Our OU Study mobile App will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It's not available on Kindle.

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying D120 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 Disability support website.