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BSc (Honours) Psychology - Learning outcomes

Educational aims

The degree aims to provide you with:

  • an understanding of key concepts, theories, methods and debates in psychology
  • an appreciation of different perspectives within psychology and the ability to evaluate them critically
  • practical experience of designing, carrying out, analysing and reporting psychological research using a range of research methods
  • an understanding of the application of psychology to social, educational, practical and professional issues
  • a range of generic skills as detailed in the QAA Subject benchmark statement for Psychology
  • a degree which fulfils the requirements for the Graduate Basis for Registration of the British Psychological Society (provided you achieve at least the equivalent of a 2:2 classification) and which provides the basis for further postgraduate study in psychology 
  • support and guidance to improve their own learning and performance and develop as independent learners.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

When you have completed this degree you will:

  • have knowledge of the core domains within psychology as specified by the relevant professional bodies.
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of the types of evidence and research methods used in psychology.
  • have an awareness of the importance of ethical issues in the practice of psychology, an understanding of what constitutes a scientific approach to psychology, and of the differences between common sense and psychological explanations of human behaviour
  • be able to recognise how psychological theories and research are applied in practical or professional contexts.

Cognitive skills

When you have completed this degree you will have the ability to:

  • construct arguments with appropriate use of psychological concepts, theories and evidence
  • interpret and evaluate the contributions of different kinds of evidence and research methods
  • engage with and justify research questions and hypotheses, using psychological theories and evidence
  • illustrate the ability to design and carry out research projects, and analyse and interpret the findings appropriately..

Practical and/or professional skills

When you have completed this degree you will:

  • have the ability to employ evidence-based reasoning and to examine practical, theoretical and ethical issues
  • be able to communicate knowledge and/or findings in an appropriate way for particular audiences
  • be able to plan and conduct appropriate psychological investigations
  • have the ability to identify and prioritise tasks, and adhere to a schedule of work.

Key skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to demonstrate the following key skills (these skills are matched against QCA levels 3 and 4):


  • The ability to select, summarise, synthesise and reference appropriately information from different psychological sources, including primary texts.
  • The ability to present written material in a coherently organised form, with arguments and information in logical sequence and communicated effectively in a variety of formats.

Application of number

  • The ability to work with data, and to interpret tables, graphs, diagrams, and bar charts.
  • The ability to manipulate and analyse data.

Information technology

  • The ability to process, prepare and present information using computers.
  • The ability to use information technology to search for and access electronic resources.

Learning how to learn

  • Development of independent learning skills.
  • The ability to work collaboratively.
  • The ability to monitor and reflect on personal progress, using feedback, and identifying own strengths and weaknesses.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Knowledge and understanding are acquired in a variety of ways, through:

  • printed items such as specially written module texts, study guides, and assignment and project guides
  • a range of multimedia material
  • work on original texts
  • feedback on assignments.

Tutors support your learning in tutorials and day schools and through their detailed comments on assignments. 

The OU level 2 psychology modules provide a wide-ranging introduction to the key concepts, theories, and methods of psychology as well as teaching and guidance on research methods and on effective writing of psychological research reports. The core module, DE200, includes two mini projects, one using qualitative methods and the other using quantitative methods, and a final examination. 

At OU level 3 the compulsory module will develop your skills in independent research and you will be able to choose from a range of methods to conduct, evaluate and communicate your own research. Understanding and competence in all areas is assessed through project work submitted as tutor-marked assignments.

In the modules at both OU levels 2 and 3 there is an increasing development of your skills in understanding, evaluating, and comparing psychological theories using evidence from different sources.

Throughout the degree, assessment is through tutor-marked assignments (including essays, presentations and practical reports), interactive computer-marked assessments (iCMAs), and end-of-module assignments or examinations. Running through the compulsory psychology modules is a developing emphasis on cumulative practical experience of psychological research methods, culminating in the ability to carry out independent empirical research; therefore, written reports form a substantial component of the tutor-marked assignments.

Skills development and assessment beyond the compulsory modules in the degree will depend on your choice of modules according to your needs and intentions.

The open nature of entry to the OU means that at OU level 1 there is considerable emphasis on reading and writing skills. These are integrated into the study material and specifically taught and developed in separate texts, via student notes for the tutor-marked assignments, and through tutor feedback. At OU levels 2 and 3 you are assumed to have developed abilities in these areas, although tutor feedback on writing and reporting skills continues to be important. However, the material from which you work becomes increasingly complex and diverse, therefore more sophisticated skills of interpretation, selection and synthesis are required. These skills are central to the presentation of written assignments and, consequently, throughout the degree receive continuous assessment and examination.

Application of number
At OU level 2, number skills are developed through interactive online activities and two small research projects. At OU levels 2 and 3 projects are assessed through research reports submitted as tutor-marked assignments.

Information technology
You have the opportunity to work with information technology on each of the modules. Many students use word processing packages to prepare and present their tutor-marked assignments.

Learning how to learn
As you will be studying at a distance and part time, a strong emphasis is placed on helping you to develop as an independent learner. At OU level 1 this means developing basic skills (e.g. of time planning, using support). It also means laying the foundation for increasing emphasis on reflection at OU levels 2 and 3. This is not assessed directly but is demonstrated by your ability to study autonomously. Self-assessed activities are also built into the teaching texts. Your tutors’ written responses on your assignments are intended, in part, to help you learn from feedback and enable you to improve subsequent submissions.