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Investigating psychology 3

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This module builds on Investigating psychology 2 and takes a critical and creative approach to methodology in psychology, with a substantive empirical project. Experimentation, survey methodology and text-based qualitative analyses (discourse analysis and phenomenological analysis) are explored through the topics of memory, language, creativity, personality, child development, emotions, and relationships. These topics are also used to present research in the core domains of biological, cognitive, developmental individual differences and social psychology. In addition, quantitative and qualitative methods are taught. Students can express a preference for the method to be used in their independent project: text-based analysis, experimentation, or survey.

What you will study

Investigating psychology 3 gives you the opportunity to carry out an independent research project with specialist supervision. To facilitate this, students are strongly encouraged to engage with an online activity that outlines the broad options available for the independent project. This takes place before the module begins and is designed to help you decide on your preferences. At the start of the module you can record these preferences and will be used in allocating you an appropriate tutor.

During the first half of the module the interactive online study guide leads you, week by week, through an exploration of the key methods used in psychological research, investigating how the diversity of methods originated, and the way that psychology relates to both social and natural sciences.

In Block 1, you'll examine how experimentation, survey and text-based methods are used and consider the kind of psychological knowledge that each method generates. The use of experimentation in memory research and how it relates to biological methods, such as brain imaging, will also be reviewed.

You’ll explore the theoretical and practical difficulties in applied research, particularly in eye-witness testimony. Then you'll look at how experimentation has also been used to tease out the relationship between the way that we think and the language that we speak.

Our discussion then turns to the use of surveys and explores how attitudes and beliefs about the way children learn and develop relate to our practices in child rearing and education. We review the use of surveys as a method in personality research and in assessing creativity.

Experiments and surveys produce data that can be analysed using statistics and this module builds on the statistical techniques introduced in Investigating psychology 1 and 2. The methods also lend themselves to the use of software and you will be introduced to professional grade packages that allow you to produce experimental procedures and questionnaires as well as to collect data in a straightforward and accurate manner.

Block 2 considers text-based, qualitative research in psychology. You'll begin with phenomenological analysis, the way we explore our experiences of the world and ourselves. The topics covered include jealousy, close relationships and our experience of emotion.

You’ll then turn to discourse analysis which explores how we use language to create our world. We explore how this method helps us to understand the social construction of health-related issues such as ADHD and also how we talk about our life story. This returns us to memory research but using a different methodology. Throughout this first part of the module you will be encouraged to think critically about the methods of data collection and analysis and how they are used.

The second part of the module is your opportunity to carry out your own psychological investigation. Under the close supervision of your tutor you'll design and build a study, considering procedural and ethical issues. You'll collect your data, carry out the appropriate analysis and report your findings as a research report. You’ll also participate in your fellow students’ projects which will deepen your appreciation of how psychological data are generated.

Throughout this process you'll be very well supported, but we stress that this is your project and you'll be expected to take responsibility for it. In our experience many students find the independent project is the most satisfying part of the whole degree.

Professional recognition

This is one of the core modules in our British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited degrees in psychology.

Entry requirements

This module is not available for standalone study; it can only be studied as part of a qualification. Normally, you should have successfully completed Investigating psychology 2 (DE200) before you study this module.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

What's included

You'll be provided with two text books, statistical analysis software (SPSS) and have access to the module website which includes: 

  • a week-by-week study guide and planner
  • interactive activities and materials
  • audio and video content
  • step-by-step statistical analysis guides
  • online tutorials and forums 
  • assessment guides
  • links for further, independent study.

Access to specialist software (Gorilla, Qualtrics and NVivo) to aid experimental, survey and qualitative projects will also be made available through the module website.

Computing requirements

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 10 or 11.
  • MacOS X 10.15 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.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You’ll be assigned a tutor who will give you advice and guidance throughout the module. They will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and will primarily support you to design, carry out and produce your project.

We offer specialist teaching forums that provide tuition and support on the core areas of psychology that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to take part in. The tutors staffing these forums will help you with the study materials, as well as marking and commenting on your written assignments. We also offer online tutorials that you are encouraged to participate in.

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 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 DE300 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Investigating psychology 3 starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2022. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2025.

Course work includes:

5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school