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Social Psychology

Course Outlines

This course is designed to provide students with a broad introduction to social psychology - the scientific study of human thought and behaviour in social situations. We will explore the ways in which people think about themselves and others, the ways in which people relate to one another, and the ways in which people influence others. Topics will include social self-concept; social judgments; attitude formation and change; conformity and obedience; aggression and helping behavior; interpersonal relationships, and the dynamics and interactions of groups.  We will also examine how social psychological research can be applied to real world situations.


The aim of the course is to give a broad overview of historic and contemporary topics in social psychology and to provide students with the opportunity to learn about various theoretical, conceptual, practical, and empirical issues.


On completion of this course students should be able to:

  • show an appreciation of the basic assumptions of social psychology and be able to discuss current issues and controversies in the field.
  • demonstrate an understanding the scientific methodologies commonly used by social psychologists when examining human thought and behaviour
  • describe and critically evaluate major theories and research findings in selected areas of social psychology
  • apply their knowledge of social psychology to everyday situations
  • be able to deal more effectively with their own social interactions using the principles learned during the course.

Teaching and learning methods

We will meet once a week for 3 hours. I will assume that you have completed the relevant reading assigned for each session. Lectures will focus on central themes in the assigned reading but I will usually introduce new materials not covered in the reading.  Films, videos, class demonstrations, interactive exercises and discussions will be used to supplement lectures. At the end of each lecture reading for the following week will be assigned and, in some weeks, students will be required to undertake short practical assignments that must be completed before the following class.

Coursework and assessment

Assessed component Basic requirements Weighting Deadline
Short essay One short essay (approx. 1,000 -1,200 words). 15% Week 6
Long essay One long essay (approx. 2,500 - 3,000 word). 35% Week 11
Examination Two-hour written examination 50% Week 14

Coursework should reflect reading around the subject beyond the core texts and the internet. Essays should be typed with double line spacing and have a full bibliography. Students should make sure they read and comply with the regulations regarding late submission of coursework and plagiarism set out in the University website.

The core texts for this course are

  • Baron, R., Branscombe, N. and Byrne, D. (2008) Social Psychology 12th Ed. Pearson
  • Hogg, M. and Vaughan, G. (2010) Social Psychology 6th Ed. Pearson
  • References to supplementary study materials will be given during teaching sessions.