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.
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 psychological research studies.
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 the 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.
This is one of the core modules in our British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited degrees in psychology.
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), 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.
You'll be provided with two textbooks, 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.
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 64-bit (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.