PY4CHI-Contemporary and Historical Issues in Psychology

Module Provider: Psychology
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Dan Jones


Type of module:

Summary module description:

Critical approaches to contemporary and historical issues in psychology


As a balance to the specialisation that is required by the optional modules, this module brings the whole year group together to consider issues of current theoretical, ethical and practical importance to Psychology and to compare current thinking with historical positions on these and other issues. Students will be provided with additional training in planning empirical investigations, critical thinking, and the construction of arguments. 

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module, students will be able to:

- Critically consider current and historical debates in the discipline of psychology, and consider their implications to the discipline and beyond

- Synthesise historical and contemporary ideas about various topics

- Critically evaluate an argument of contemporary or historical interest, synthesising relevant information from across the whole psychology programme

Additional outcomes:

Students will be prompted to review what they have been taught in other modules from different perspectives. Students will be required to work independently to collate information from a range of sources and to marshal this appropriately in order to draw conclusions in relation to controversial topics.

Outline content:

Students will be introduced to critical approaches to a variety of topics of historical and contemporary interest, such as philosophical and ethical debates, advanced research design, and controversies in the media, through interactive lectures. Students are encouraged to draw on their broad knowledge of topics in the field of psychology, and to integrate and contrast different perspectives in tackling the questions posed. A number of academic skills will be revisited, including critical thinking skills, argumentation and scientific writing. This module will enhance and develop these skills further, enabling students to critically assess contemporary and historical issues from across psychology and synthesise information. The coursework assessment in Term 1 will provide students with feedback on the level of their argumentation, ability to synthesise material across areas, critical thinking ability and essay writing skills prior to the final examination. 

Global context:

Exposure to a wide-variety of diverse and complex issues from across the discipline of psychology.  

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module is taught via a series of 1- and 2-hour lectures, and supported by independent literature searching and reading. Teaching methods include:

(a) Interactive lectures 

(b) Recommended reading from texts

(c) Independent literature review and reading

(d) Formative feedback on draft critical reviews

(e) Feedback on summative essays

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 15 5
Guided independent study 65 55 60
Total hours by term 80.00 60.00 60.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 60
Written assignment including essay 40

Summative assessment- Examinations:

2 hours

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students complete one essay in Autumn term, which contributes 40% of the marks for the module. Students sit a 2-hour unseen examination in Summer term, which contributes 60% of the module mark.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (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.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    A mark of 50% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Re-examination in August / September.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 28 September 2018


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