Living psychology: from the everyday to the extraordinary
This module draws on classic and contemporary theory and research in psychology and applies them to a broad range of contexts. You'll learn how psychologists have studied both practical and theoretical issues, such as nationalism or sexuality, with a particular emphasis on understanding and solving problems that directly affect people’s lives. You'll explore core academic areas of psychology as set out by the British Psychological Society (e.g. social, cognitive, developmental) and applied aspects of professional practice (e.g. clinical, forensic, counselling). You'll also develop your understanding of psychological research methods, along with other useful academic and employability skills.
Please note that the real-world contexts explored in this module may involve issues that are sensitive to you personally at time of studying. We recommend that you look through the topics covered before registering for this module.
What you will study
This module approaches psychology as a fundamentally applied discipline, firmly grounded in the real world.
Each study week takes a specific real-world topic and leads you through some of the ways that psychologists have explored it, outlining key theories, findings, practical issues, and research methods. Some of the real-world contexts explored in this module may involve issues that are sensitive to you personally. The issues to be covered will be outlined before the topic is presented, together with suggested ways in which you might engage with it if it is personally relevant to you.
The module is structured into five blocks, with four topics in each.
Block 1 explores the theme of ‘understanding minds’. In this block, you'll learn how people are able to understand each other’s thoughts and feelings, whether this ability is shared by other animals, what happens when people have difficulty understanding each other, and whether it might be possible to build an artificial ‘mind’ that would think and feel like a human mind.
Block 2 moves on from the individual focus of the first block to consider how people relate to others as social beings. In this block, you'll learn about the importance of self-esteem and the effect that other people can have on it, how issues of nationality and migration can affect people’s identities, how conflict, aggression and violence can be explained and understood using the example of terrorism, and finally how wellbeing can be shaped by people’s sense of and shared experience of community.
Block 3 shifts the focus from the social worlds people inhabit to covering topics of sex and relationships. you'll learn about how psychologists study the role people’s experience of sex in their lives. You'll also study the occurrence of conflict in close relationships and how people relate to each other digitally using the internet as the platform for social relationships. Finally, you'll learn about the topic of sexual harassment through a psychological lens.
Block 4 considers how people make sense of the world around them. You'll learn how people develop an understanding of the information provided by their physical senses and how that understanding can be both highly efficient and often wrong. You'll also learn why many people believe in things that seem extraordinary, such as astrological predictions, psychic readings and conspiracy theories.
Block 5 focuses on interaction and collaboration using four important, and contemporary, issues that psychologists have explored and the problems that they have tried to help solve. You'll learn about people’s interaction with nature, interactions between humans and technology, including in high-risk working environments, working collaboratively with others in creative pursuits and interactions in the context of judgement and decision-making within the legal context of the jury process.
Throughout the module, you'll learn about a wide variety of research methods that have been used by psychologists to explore these issues. The methods covered include surveys, interviews, experiments, clinical assessments, and case studies.
The module is built around a two-volume textbook Living Psychology: From the Everyday to the Extraordinary and an extensive module website built around an online study guide. The website contains further teaching to support the chapters in the textbook, as well as additional topics taught entirely online. The teaching on the website includes video and audio interviews with key psychologists featured in the material, behind the scenes insights into the research process, 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.
You will learn
You will learn about:
- academic and applied areas of psychology, including aspects of cognitive, developmental, social, clinical, counselling and forensic psychology
- the interaction between real-world issues and psychological theories and research.
You will develop skills in:
- accessing, interpreting and critically evaluating information from a variety of sources
- presenting information and arguments in response to academic and applied questions.
This is an OU level 2 module, and you need to have the study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning, obtained either through OU level 1 study or by doing equivalent work at another university. You are not expected to have any special knowledge of psychology.
If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.
You’ll be supplied with module textbooks and have access to a module website, which includes:
- a week-by-week study planner
- module materials
- audio and video content
- assessment guide
- online tutorial and forums access.
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 (11 'Big Sur' 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.