Contemporary Issues in Psychology

Module titleContemporary Issues in Psychology
Module codePSY3403
Academic year2014/5
Module staff

Dr Nicolas Dumay (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

In this module you will explore current research topics in psychology and animal behaviour. A series of research seminars delivered by leading researchers and visiting specialists, in addition to weekly discussion and problem-based learning sessions, allows you to learn about cutting edge research in psychology, engage in a critical appraisal of these seminars, and develop key skills in developing and communicating your own ideas and responses to current research.

Module aims - intentions of the module

In this module, we will sample and learn from a wide range of examples of current research topics within Psychology and Animal Behaviour by hearing about cutting edge research being conducted by academics within Psychology. You will develop a critical awareness of the broad range of methods available in research in the context of discussion of, and reflection on, larger issues of scientific method. It aims to develop expertise in critical analysis and research design and in the communication of ideas in a concise and engaging manner.

Through attending the weekly seminars, discussion sessions, and through completing the assessments, you will work towards developing the following academic and professional skills: problem solving (linking theory to practice, developing your own ideas with confidence, being able to respond to novel and unfamiliar problems), managing structure (identifying key demands of the task, setting clearly defined goals, developing strategies to ensure individual and group success), time management (managing time effectively individually and within a group), collaboration (respecting the views and values of others, taking initiative and leading others, supporting others in their work, maintaining group cohesiveness and purpose), and audience awareness (presenting ideas effectively in multiple formats, persuading others of the importance and relevance of your views, responding positively and effectively to questions).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Acquire and demonstrate an advanced level of knowledge about current research topics in psychology
  • 2. Communicate your own thoughts and ideas in response to the ideas of others in a succinct and engaging way
  • 3. Work in groups to respond adaptively to unfamiliar problems and situations

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Acquire detailed, systematic and comprehensive knowledge within the discipline, with in-depth specialisation at the forefront of the discipline in certain areas, and demonstrate advanced critical understanding of this knowledge and of the limits and provisional nature of this knowledge
  • 5. Review and critically evaluate research and identify the strengths and weaknesses of this work
  • 6. Address systematically complex problems which may be framed within unpredictable contexts, think critically, creatively and independently, and fully appreciate the complexities of the issues
  • 7. Understand and apply essential principles in designing novel research, and critically evaluate and analyse empirical evidence, and assess the reliability of empirical evidence using a range of defined techniques at an advanced level
  • 8. Illustrate the wider ethical issues relating to the subject and its application at an advanced level

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. Interact effectively and supportively within a learning group
  • 10. Manage your own learning using the full range of resources of the discipline and with minimum guidance
  • 11. Engage effectively in debate in a professional manner and produce detailed and coherent written work; identify complex problems and apply appropriate knowledge and methods for their solution with confidence and flexibility

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The first two weeks of the module will be spent preparing you for the assessments and outlining the skills and attributes you have gained from the overall degree programme and also, specifically, from this module. You will be expected to attend 8 research seminars in the following weeks that provide you with an opportunity to hear about and discuss research projects in progress. In the weekly discussion sessions, you will be involved in group activities that allow you to engage in an in-depth discussion and critical analysis of the research. The exact academic content will vary from year-to-year reflecting the current research interests of academic staff and to allow the opportunity to involve visiting specialists. The final week will be spent recapping on what skills you have gained from your experiences on this module and how they relate to employability, providing you with the vocabulary with which to articulate these skills.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching14Research seminar
Scheduled Learning and Teaching8Seminar discussions
Guided Independent Study40Preparation for seminar (i.e., doing set readings for each week)
Guided Independent Study18Preparation of presentation
Guided Independent Study70Preparation of coursework


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Participation in discussion sessions60 minutesAllOral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Thought paper 125750 words1-2, 4-8, 10-11Written
Thought paper 225750 words1-2, 4-8, 10-11Written
Press release 125500 words1-2, 4-8, 10-11Written
Press release 225500 words1-2, 4-8, 10-11Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Thought paper 1Thought paper 11-2, 4-8, 10-11August Ref/Def
Thought paper 2Thought paper 21-2, 4-8, 10-11August Ref/Def
Press release 1Press release 11-2, 4-8, 10-11August Ref/Def
Press release 2Press release 21-2, 4-8, 10-11August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Four assessments are required for this module and the reassessment will be the same as the original assessment. Where you have been referred/deferred in the elements of this module you will have the opportunity to resubmit work in the August/September re-assessment period. Deferred marks are not capped; referred marks are capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core readings will be assigned for each week and will be available on the ELE module homepage.

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Psychology, contemporary issues

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date