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BA (Honours) Philosophy and Psychological Studies - Learning outcomes

Educational aims

The Philosophy strand of this degree aims to:

  • provide you with an understanding of key concepts, theories, and debates in selected areas of philosophy, achieved via critical reading of primary source texts, and investigated by the methods of the contemporary Western tradition of philosophy
  • develop critical judgement in your understanding and interpretation of philosophical texts and arguments
  • develop your capacities in critical reasoning and argument.

The Psychology strand of this 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
  • experience of designing, carrying out, analysing and reporting psychological research using a range of research methods.

Both strands of this degree aim to provide you with support and guidance to improve your own learning and performance and to develop as an independent learner.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this degree you will have acquired knowledge and understanding of:

  • what it means to approach an issue philosophically, as the phrase is understood in terms of the contemporary Western tradition of philosophy
  • selected classic and contemporary philosophers and, by reading primary source texts, their views on the topics you will study
  • how to analyse and construct philosophical arguments
  • the key approaches to psychology, and the contribution of different theorists to psychological ideas and thinking
  • what constitutes a scientific approach to psychology, and of the differences between common sense and psychological explanations of human behaviour
  • a range of research methods in psychology, their appropriate use, and the ethical issues in the design and conduct of psychological enquiry.

Cognitive skills

On completion of this degree, you will be able to:

  • understand and critically evaluate primary and secondary literature (including commentary in recorded audio format)and formulate your own views about the problems discussed
  • plan and execute philosophical writing at the appropriate level, including the ability to organise arguments and counter-arguments into a coherent essay
  • define and use key terms and concepts in psychology
  • explore hypotheses and construct arguments, with appropriate use of psychological concepts, theories and evidence
  • understand and evaluate the range of research strategies and methods used by psychologists.

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of this degree, you will be able to:

  • understand the structure of complex philosophical problems and some of the strategies that philosophers have used to solve these problems
  • read carefully and critically texts drawn from a variety of historical periods and traditions with a sensitivity to context and, where needed, an understanding of some specialised philosophical terminology
  • design and conduct psychological investigations using a range of methods and types of data analysis and report these in appropriate formats
  • conduct research that complies with established ethical principles and guidelines
  • be ready to view unfamiliar ideas with an open mind and a willingness to change one’s mind when appropriate.

Key skills


On completion of this degree, you will be able to:

  • select and read material in an appropriate way, identify what is relevant and take notes efficiently and effectively
  • present written material in a coherent, organised form, with arguments and information in a logical sequence and sources referenced in an appropriate way.

Application of number

On completion of this degree, you will be able to:

  • perform basic numerical operations and work with statistical data
  • interpret tables, graphs, diagrams and bar charts
  • present and summarise data in extended reports.

Information technology

On completion of this degree, you will be able to:

  • access, process and prepare information using computers.

Learning how to learn

On completion of this degree, you will be able to:

  • analyse tasks, make plans for tackling them and manage time
  • learn from a variety of different media and different teaching methods
  • learn from feedback and be able to monitor and reflect on your personal progress.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

You will acquire your knowledge and understanding through a mix of published distance-learning materials, study guides, a range of multimedia material, online tutorials, working on primary and secondary sources, and feedback on your assignments. The assessment of your knowledge and understanding will be through a mix of essay questions, short-answer questions and formal examinations. In some instances, particularly at OU level 3, you may also be assessed through project work and extended assignments, allowing you to develop your skills in independent study.  The precise nature of this mix will depend on your choice of modules. As you progress through the degree you will find that you are cumulatively increasing your level of knowledge and understanding and you can expect a significant portion of your progress to be assessed at OU level 3.

Cognitive skills are taught cumulatively and in ways that will vary according to the modules you study. They will include the use of written study materials, in-text questions, audio, visual and/or interactive material, carefully monitored feedback on assignments, as well as online tutorials. The essay is a principal form of assessment and you may also work on short-answer questions. You will also be developing your skills as you engage in independent study at OU level 3 through project work or an extended essay.