Critically exploring psychology 1

This module introduces you to some of the core theories, debates and research methods in contemporary psychology. The focus will be on areas of social, cognitive and biological psychology. You'll explore a range of exciting topics, including examining how individuals and groups act in a range of situations, investigating how we gather and process information to understand the world around us, and exploring how differences in the human brain can explain individual differences. You'll also have the opportunity to develop your research skills as you start to ask your own research questions in psychology.


D810 is a compulsory module in our:

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

What you will study

This module will introduce you to a range of aspects of the core curriculum which underpins Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) with the British Psychological Society. The topics covered include relationships, attention, memory, the brain, and health and well-being, with references made to real-world applications using engaging current literature and case studies to bring the content to life. The module draws on a range of voices to encourage critical thought and debate, and issues around diversity will be directly embedded into the curriculum.

The module is comprised of the following four study blocks of theoretical content and will deliver research methods in parallel.

Introductory Block: This introduces a range of perspectives in psychology and starts to consider ethical issues in historical and contemporary psychological knowledge and research.

Block 1: This focuses on social psychology, including topics such as obedience, conformity, group processes, social cognition, including bias, prejudice (with a particular focus on outsiders and groups in conflict), relationships, cultural diversity and differences from across the globe, and learning from watching.

Block 2: This explores cognitive psychology, including perception, attention, and memory, focusing on remembering and forgetting and the application of memory research to witnessing and recall.

Block 3: This examines biological psychology. You'll explore the human brain and how we can understand diversity and difference, learning and conditioning, and examine how psychology can help us understand physical and mental health.

Running alongside the theoretical material, you'll have the chance to develop your research skills and apply these to the topics you are studying.  Each week you'll take an in-depth look at the different perspectives taken in psychological research and consider examples from theory to illustrate where our psychological knowledge comes from. You will be supported to ask and answer different psychological research questions and consider the ethical implications of the proposed work. You'll explore and develop your understanding of a broad range of qualitative techniques, including thematic and discursive analysis, and phenomenological research.

You'll also be supported to develop your skills in quantitative research and have the opportunity to use a specialist software package (SPSS) to summarise and describe numerical information, examine associations between data sets, and test hypotheses. For both qualitative and quantitative research, you'll have the chance to engage in ‘real world’ studies and produce research reports to summarise your findings, a key skill for future work in the psychological field.

You will learn

On successful completion of this module, you will have:

  • an advanced understanding of some of the core domains within psychology as specified by the relevant professional bodies
  • demonstrated a critical understanding of the types of evidence and research methods used in psychology
  • an awareness of the importance of ethical issues in the practice of psychology and apply such knowledge in the critical review of published research and the design of original projects.
  • critically examined how psychological theories and research methodologies are used in practice or professional contexts.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your studies on this module, you will be supported by your module tutor. They will help you by:

  • marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback to highlight your areas of strength and identify areas where you can improve
  • guiding you to additional learning resources
  • providing individual guidance, whether that is for general study skills or specific module content
  • facilitating online discussions between your fellow student in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

Professional recognition

This is one of the two core modules in our British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited MSc in Psychology (Conversion).

Course work includes

5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (CMA)
End-of-module assessment

Future availability

Critically exploring psychology 1 starts once a year – in September. This page describes the module that will start in September 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in September 2031.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

Entry requirements

This module is not available for standalone study. To study this module, you should have declared the MSc in Psychology (Conversion) (F92) as your study intention and be able to devote 25 hours each week to your studies.

The minimum entry requirement is a recognised UK honours degree (2:2) or its equivalent.

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


Start End England fee Register
07 Sep 2024 Jun 2025 £4075.00

Registration closes 08/08/24 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in September 2031.

Future availability

Critically exploring psychology 1 starts once a year – in September. This page describes the module that will start in September 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in September 2031.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

Ways to pay for this module

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. To find out more, see Fees and funding.

Study materials

What's included

You will be provided with a research methods workbook and have access to a module website which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • module materials
  • audio-visual content
  • assessment guide
  • online tutorials (at key moments in the module)
  • forums to engage with fellow students
  • links for further study.

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 64-bit (10 or 11)
  • macOS (Ventura 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.

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio and video components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available to download. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader (and where applicable: mathematical and scientific materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way). Other alternative formats of the module materials may be available in the future.

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.

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