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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 discusses social psychology's insights into life and people in a globalised and fast-changing 21st century world. The module explores current issues in contemporary UK society, including gender, multiculturalism, immigration, global conflicts and work. You'll learn about recent research findings and different social psychological theories and approaches, including a critical approach towards psychology itself. As preparation for future study, work and life activities, you'll 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.

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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 module levels correspond to these frameworks.
Level of Study
3 10 6

Study method

Module cost

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. 

Block 1: Social psychology for a contemporary society
In the first block, you'll be asked: 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? You'll also consider 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 and research, and social psychology linked to theories of the subject.

Block 2: New encounters across cultures in a globalised world
You'll explore the relationships between individuals and cultures in modern diverse societies. Looking at the encounters between people in a world of increased mobility, you're asked: What happens when different cultures meet? What are the potential barriers? Can intercultural dialogue be achieved? You'll 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 and social representations theory.

Block 3: Social psychology and participation: understanding and effecting change
You'll look at how people get involved as members of society or citizens and study how 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? You'll also investigate how social psychology itself has contributed to social action and change. The approaches covered include political psychology, liberation psychology and the social identity approach.

Block 4: A contemporary subject
This block 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. You'll be asked how 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 and positive psychology.

Block 5: Threats and fears
This block features 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'll 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 and psychosocial studies.

The content of this module is delivered through blended tuition using online material and two textbooks. You'll be required to read the module textbook and other published material; watch videos and listen to interviews with leading international scholars; complete online activities and participate in forums. This will help to develop your academic and communication skills. You'll 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'll 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 and online forums. You are strongly encouraged to take part in these support activities.

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.

Future availability

Advancing social psychology (DD317) starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2025.


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

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.


Start End England fee Register
05 Oct 2024 Jun 2025 £3636.00

Registration closes 05/09/24 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2025.

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 receive 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 fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2025. Fees typically increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules

This information was provided on 29/05/2024.

Can you study an Access module for free?

Depending on eligibility and availability of places, you could apply to study your Access module for free.

To qualify, you must:

  1. be resident in England
  2. have a household income of less than £25,000 (or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit)
  3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above or successfully completed 30 credits or more of OU study within the last 10 years

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 and funded places are still available.

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 textbooks and have access to the module website, which includes: 

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • audio-visual materials
  • links to further reading
  • assessment guide
  • online tutorials and forums.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in 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.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

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 disability support pages.