PY1DIP-Debates in Psychology

Module Provider: Psychology
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Dan Jones


Summary module description:
Debates in Psychology

This interactive module will introduce students to key current and historical issues in Psychology. Topics to be debated will be introduced in online lectures, and teams of students will then prepare and present debates on these topics the following week. Students will also acquire the skill of critically summarising the information presented. The module will therefore introduce students to the skill of presenting new information in teams and to the skill of summarising the arguments for and against the topic under debate.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module the student will be able to:
• Show knowledge of current issues of contention in psychology and of the history and development of current thinking in psychology;
• Identify the key arguments that support or contradict the premise under debate;
• Present a convincing case in relation to the topic under debate;
• Critically summarise the arguments presented by other students.

Additional outcomes:
Students will be able to engage with and debate on positions presented by others, in a forum that encourages the expression of individual viewpoints. The module therefore provides students with an opportunity to find out about each others' perspectives on psychological issues in the first term of their studies.

Outline content:
This module is intended as a beginner’s guide to a number of conceptual, historical and philosophical issues relevant to psychology and as a forum for debunking common myths about psychology. Topics to be debated might include the following:
• Philosophy of science, as it applies to psychology;
• Turning points in the history of psychology, such as the cognitive revolution and the importance of mental representation;
• The determinants of behaviour - Individual versus context?
• Free will versus determinism - To what extent do we choose what we do?
• The misuse of statistics historically and in current practice;
• The accuracy of media coverage of psychological research.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
(a) Lectures, class debates and student presentations.
(b) Recommended reading from texts
(c) Preparation of critical summaries of debates.

NB The contact hours in the table below are indicative of the contact hours for students studying this module in the UK, and may vary for students taking this module at branch campuses.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 11
Seminars 18
Guided independent study 71
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 60
Oral assessment and presentation 40

Other information on summative assessment:
Students will be required to participate in one class debate, and will be assessed on the quality of the arguments they present in relation to the debate, and the quality of their visual and oral presentation of these arguments (40%).
Students will be required to submit a critical summary of two debates at which they are not presenting. Summaries are graded on the quality of the student's summary of the particular contemporary or historical controversy and on the student's assessment of the validity of the arguments presented in relation to that controversy (30% each summary).
If they wish, students may submit a critical summary and receive feedback for more than two debates, and their best two marks will count.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Reassessment for this module is a written assignment on the importance of a particular contemporary or historical controversy, including a discussion of the validity of the different positions within that controversy. To be completed by September.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 31 March 2017

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