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Diploma of Higher Education in Psychology - Learning outcomes

Educational aims

The Diploma of Higher Education in Psychology is an intermediate qualification which is the second stage towards the BSc (Hons) Psychology degree.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

When you have completed this diploma, you will have a basic awareness and understanding of:

  • the core domains within psychology as specified by the relevant professional bodies
  • the types of evidence and research methods used in psychology
  • the importance of ethical issues in the practice of psychology
  • how psychological theories and research can be made relevant to everyday experience.

Cognitive skills

When you have completed this diploma, you will be able to:

  • construct arguments with appropriately selected key terms and concepts
  • recognise and evaluate the contributions of different kinds of evidence and research methods
  • engage with research questions and hypotheses relating to psychological theories and evidence.
  • demonstrate some practical skills in carrying out a research project, and analysing and interpreting results.

Practical and/or professional skills

When you have completed this diploma, you will be able to:

  • understand some of the ways in which your studies equip you with transferable skills that are of value to employers
  • monitor and reflect on your progress as an independent learner, using feedback and identifying own strengths and weaknesses
  • be aware of the importance of evidence-based reasoning in engaging with practical, theoretical and ethical issues
  • communicate knowledge and/or findings in an appropriate way for particular audiences
  • carry out a small-scale psychological investigation
  • be aware of the importance of prioritising tasks and adhering to a schedule of work.

Key skills

When you have completed this diploma, you will be able to:

  • write a well-structured, coherent essay and a conventionally structured report
  • appropriately use information gained from tables and other sources
  • use inferential statistics appropriately
  • process, prepare and present information using computers
  • use information technology to search for and access electronic resources and appropriately reference sources
  • work collaboratively.

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; through a range of multimedia material; through work on original texts; and through 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. Teaching and guidance on research methods and on effective writing of psychological research reports is also provided. The compulsory OU level 2 psychology module includes two small research projects, and a final examination.

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

Throughout the qualification, assessment is through tutor-marked assignments (both essays and practical reports) and an end-of-year examination. Running through the compulsory psychology modules is a developing emphasis on cumulative practical experience of psychological research methods, including how to carry out empirical research and write up a report. 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 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
Number skills are developed through interactive online activities and research projects.

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 level 2. 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.