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Unit information: Social and Socio-cultural Psychology in 2015/16

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Unit name Social and Socio-cultural Psychology
Unit code EDUCM5405
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Shelley McKeown Jones
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


The unit provides an opportunity for students to examine research and theory on social and socio-cultural psychology and the socialisation of children within the family, the school and the community. Topics include: Psychology as a social science. Social perception and social cognition, person perception, attitudes, attribution. Social group processes; inter-group processes including: prejudice, inter-group conflict, social identification, small group processes including norms, leadership, decision making, productivity; conformity and obedience, majority and minority influence, friendship, dominance, aggression. Social and relationship issues: parent-child, sibling and peer relationships, the social worlds of school, adolescence, delinquency; developmental psychopathology, sex roles and sex stereotyping, interpersonal attraction, aggression; pro-social behaviour, altruism, moral development. Socio-cultural psychology: Vygotskian theory.


  • To develop an understanding and critical appreciation of current approaches to social and socio-cultural psychology.
  • To review research on important topics in social and socio-cultural psychology
  • To examine the relationships between facets of social and socio-cultural psychology, drawing on psychological approaches
  • To consider the social and cultural construction of psychology
  • To develop a critical awareness of claims about social and socio-cultural psychology in the educational literature
  • To explore implications of psychological research and theory concerning children and their social worlds for the wider aims and methods of education.

Intended learning outcomes

Students will demonstrate that they:

  • Understand key concepts in current study of social and socio-cultural psychology
  • Have developed skills in the evaluation and interpretation of psychological research on social and socio-cultural psychology
  • Understand the importance of biological, social and psychological factors in social and socio-cultural psychology
  • Have explored the way in which different approaches to social and socio-cultural psychology relate to and complement each other
  • Are able to critically interrogate claims about social and cultural influences on childhood in the educational literature
  • Understand the implication of recent social and socio-cultural psychological research for classroom practice
  • Are able to evaluate the relevance of social and socio-cultural psychology for educational policy and innovation.

Teaching details

The course will be delivered through whole group lectures and discussion led by research-active members of the Graduate School.

The needs of a wide range of students, including those with disabilities, international students and those from ethnic minority backgrounds have been considered. It is not anticipated that the teaching and assessment methods used will cause disadvantage to any person taking the unit. The Graduate School of Education is happy to address individual support requests as necessary.

Assessment Details

The intended learning outcomes are tested by means of a written assignment in which students will be expected to analyse relevant texts and synthesise concepts from current social and socio-cultural psychology texts and make links/connections and recognize associations/relationships between these concepts. This written assignment (of approximately 3,000 words) will extend similar work conducted during the unit, building on formative feedback that students receive on two activities that are designed to enable them to develop research skills:

  • The critique of a research article. Students, in small groups, prepare and present this critique in the larger group
  • The selection of a research article on a key topic, together with a rationale for this selection.

In their assignments, students will be expected to build on the formative work carried out during the unit to develop balanced arguments that reflect a multidisciplinary awareness and an ability to contextualise concepts, and draw appropriately upon a wide range of psychological evidence.

Reading and References

Dunn, J. (2004) Children’s friendships. Oxford: Blackwell

Franzoi, S. (2006) Social psychology, New York: McGraw-Hill

Hewstone, M., Rubin, M., and Willis, H (2002) Intergroup Bias, Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 53: 575-604

Meadows, S. (2010) The child as social person. London: Routledge. Pellegrini, A., and Blatchford, P. (2000) The child at school. London: Arnold

Rutter, M., Giller, H. and Hagell, A. (1998) Antisocial behaviour in young people. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.