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Unit information: Foundations of Psychology in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Foundations of Psychology
Unit code PSYC10004
Credit points 40
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Josie Briscoe
Open unit status Not open

Registered on Single Honours Psychology



School/department School of Psychological Science
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

This unit covers the four main content areas of biological, cognitive, developmental and social psychology. These are the core areas of psychology providing the foundation for students’ degree programmes in psychology as required for accreditation by the professional body, the British Psychological Society. Each of these four areas is covered in turn throughout the year. Thus, the aims of the unit are i) to introduce the students to the foundation areas of psychology, ii) to engage in critical thinking and oral presentations linked to foundation areas and iii) to become familiar, and actively engaged, with contemporary methods and techniques for studying psychology.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, you will have acquired a broad knowledge base across four foundation topics: Cognitive, Social, Developmental and Biological Psychology.

Cognitive: This foundation topic will give you a conceptual understanding of core cognitive processes, including perception, attention, memory, and language. You will be able identify the central role of cognitive capacities for linking brain and behaviour, and become familiar with major theoretical perspectives. You will have a general grasp of experimental methods and techniques used in cognitive psychology. You will have increased your awareness of, and provide critical evaluation of, contemporary theory and methods in cognitive psychology, via small-group presentation and discussion.

Social: This foundation topic will give you a conceptual grasp of social psychology, by focusing on broad-range of behaviours in the context of social interaction, with an emphasis on using experimental evidence. You will be able to identify theoretical perspectives within social perception and cognition that address diverse topics such as conformity, interpersonal attraction, attribution, pro-social behaviour, and the psychology of morality and consumer behaviour. You will be aware of how social psychologists think and have a basic grasp of the experimental techniques being used. You will be able to critically evaluate real-world situations using ideas and principles drawn from social psychology, and be able to provide critical evaluation of contemporary theory and methods in social psychology, via small-group presentation and discussion.

Developmental: This foundation topic will allow you to generate a wider perspective on child development through a good understanding of sensory, perceptual, cognitive and social development, in the context of empirical evidence. You will be able to identify and evaluate key theories of cognitive development, and their influence on contemporary approaches to cognition. You will have a good grasp of the unique methodologies and techniques used for studying core knowledge and aptitude in younger children. You will be able to evaluate the significance of social and cultural contexts on life-span development from infancy through to adulthood. You will be able to provide critical evaluation of contemporary theory and methods in developmental psychology, via small-group presentation and discussion.

Biological: This foundation topic will provide you with a biological approach to behaviour, by emphasising the importance of neurophysiological processes, and allow you to appreciate psychological research in the wider context of life and natural sciences. You will be able to identify that the biological and mental explanations of behaviour are complementary, and be aware of basic properties of information processing, including classical and instrumental conditioning, within a biological framework. You will have a good grasp of how sensory input is processed to yield perceptual experiences, and be able to explain how complex thoughts and emotions can be underpinned by neural processes. You will be able to identify biological bases for the diversity and versatility of human behaviour, through increased awareness of neuropsychology, neuroimaging and behavioural genetics. You will be able to provide critical evaluation of contemporary theory and methods in biological psychology, via small-group presentation and discussion.

General: This unit links directly with your tutorials with your Personal Tutor. By the end of the Unit, you will have developed your critical thinking, study skills and oral presentation skills. By the end of the unit, you will also have participated in a broad range of research experiments in the School of Experimental Psychology.

Teaching Information

In each of the four topic areas, there are 12 lectures plus 1 essay preparation lecture and 1 overview/revision lecture that support two forms of assessment: one coursework essay, and a one-hour MCQ examination paper. Overall, there are 48 content lectures, plus four essay preparation and four revision/topic review lectures.

Students will participate in 8 hours’ worth of Experimental Hours in Experimental Psychology. Tutorials with your Personal Tutor are scheduled approximately every two weeks and link directly with this Unit.

Assessment Information

Each of the four areas is examined by coursework (one essay of 1600 words), and 1 hour MCQ examination. Final Grade: based on the four courseworks and the four MCQ examinations (8 x 12.5%).

Attendance and participation in tutorials is required for the award of credit, as is participation in 8 hours worth of experiments via the Experimental Hours Scheme.

Reading and References


Schacter, D. l., Gilbert, D. T., Wegner, D. M. & Hood, B. (2011). Psychology. Houndmills: Palgrave MacMillan.

Suggestions for recommended and further reading will be made separately through Blackboard