Applied Social Psychology: Health, Environment and Society

Module titleApplied Social Psychology: Health, Environment and Society
Module codePSY3424
Academic year2016/7
Module staff

Dr Joanne Smith (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Social psychology is the study of how the thoughts, feelings and actions of individuals are influenced by the actual or perceived thoughts feelings and actions of others. Social psychological research is central to our understanding of societal and lifestyle shifts, such as health behaviour change, globalisation and diversity, organisational practice, and environmental behaviour. This module equips you with the understanding and knowledge to effect change in individuals, groups, and societies. We will achieve this by exploring how social psychological theory can be applied to solve real-world problems. Across a range of social issues you will be introduced to relevant theoretical models and examples of how these have informed applied interventions (e.g., promoting healthy behaviour, managing organisational change, promoting harmony between groups, and protecting the environment). You will develop knowledge and understanding as to how to use social psychological theory to inform, persuade and change the behaviour of others.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to enable you to apply your theoretical understanding of social psychology to the real challenges faced by government, industry and society. We will use social psychological theory and research to examine a range of different social problems (e.g., health behaviour, environmental behaviour) and then work together to critically evaluate existing theory and interventions in those domains. You will develop important skills in integrating theory and research to create evidence-based interventions. More specifically, in developing your PATH (Problem, Analysis, Test, Help) report as a major part of the summative assessment, you will put theory into practice by selecting a social problem, analysing it, applying social psychological theory to develop your own theoretical models, and designing interventions based on your model.

Through attending the weekly seminars and completing the assessments, you will further develop the following academic and professional skills: problem solving (linking theory to practice, developing your own ideas with confidence, showing entrepreneurial awareness, being able to respond to novel and unfamiliar problems), managing structure (identifying key demands of the task, setting clearly defined goals, responding flexibly to changing priorities), 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. Describe in detail the practical utility of social psychological theories
  • 2. Explain the methodological, logistical, and ethical aspects of designing interventions to change behaviour in a variety of domains
  • 3. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of current examples of behaviour change programs and provide theoretically informed suggestions about how these might be improved

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 published work at an advanced level and identify the strengths and weaknesses of this work, and at an advanced level structure this literature to present logical, coherent and sustained arguments to support conclusions at an advanced level
  • 6. Address systematically complex problems at an advanced level 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
  • 12. Identify complex problems and apply appropriate knowledge and methods for their solution with confidence and flexibility

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Introduction, module overview, and assignment to topics

From theory to practice: Designing interventions

Topic 1: Creating new behaviours and change old habits

  • Promoting health and wellness: Attitude-behaviour relations, norms and habits
  • Preventing disease and harm: Shock tactics and persuasion

Topic 2: Managing people in the workplace

  • Organisational change: Mergers, restructures, and employee commitment
  • Diversity in the workplace: Team building and diversity management

Topic 3: Creating social harmony and positive behaviour

  • Promoting social harmony
  • Post conflict societies, forgiveness, and reconciliation

Topic 4: Climate change and sustainable behaviour

  • Climate change and sustainable behaviour: Perceiving the problem
  • Climate change and sustainable behaviour: Knowing what to do about it

Summary and revision

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 Teaching33Seminar
Guided Independent Study20Preparation for seminar (ie doing set readings for each week)
Guided Independent Study17Preparation of group presentation
Guided Independent Study40Research and preparation of essay
Guided Independent Study40Research and revision for final examination


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentation30 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
Examination603 hours1-8, 10-12Feedback on request
PATH report403000 wordsAllWritten


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExaminationExamination1-8, 10-12August Ref/Def
PATH reportPATH reportAllAugust Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Two assessments are required for this module. Where you have been referred/deferred in the examination you will have the opportunity to take a second examination in the August/September re-assessment period. Where you have been referred/deferred in the report you will be required to resubmit the report. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%; deferred marks are not capped.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core readings will be assigned for each week and will be available on the ELE module homepage. As an introduction to the approach adopted in this module, the following text is suggested:

Buunk, A. P., and van Vugt, M. (2008). Applying social psychology: From problems to solutions. London: Sage.

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Applied psychology, environment, health, society, groups

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date