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Psychology (20 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

This course provides an overview of the psychological study of human thought and behaviour. It will cover the history of the field and its major discoveries, and contemporary research on topics such as memory, language, decision-making, personality, emotion, and consciousness. Students will learn how these aspects of the mind develop and change throughout life, and how they may break down in psychopathological conditions.

20 credit courses have two assessments, normally including a 2000 word essay and a second written assignment. Students also have the opportunity to complete two formative assessments. To pass, students must achieve a minimum course mark of 40%. There are a small number of exceptions to this model which are identified in the Studying for Credit Guide.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No prior knowledge is required.

Content of Course

The course aims to provide students with an understanding of core aspects of psychology. Over the duration of the course, students will build discipline-specific vocabulary and develop a foundation in the key concepts and theories within psychological research. They will have the opportunity to practice a repertoire of study skills, including critical thinking, academic writing, referencing, and revision. As the course progresses, students will learn to be insightful and reflective about their own and others’ behaviour, emotions, and mental processes.

The course will cover four core areas of psychology and will be broken down into four thematic lecture blocks, each comprising five lectures. The following topics will be discussed:

1. Mind and brain.

In the first thematic lecture block, the limits of human intuition and common sense will be highlighted alongside the need for scientific investigation of human behaviour. Next, students will be introduced to the basic structures and functions of the human brain and the concepts of consciousness and sleep.

2. Self and society.

In the second half of the first semester, students will explore the issues surrounding human diversity and interaction. Topics under discussion will include: the nature vs. nurture debate in the context of heritability, human development, and behaviour. This will be followed by an exploration of individual differences in personality and the many ways in which people influence the thoughts, feelings, and behaviour of others.

3. Cognition.

In this block students will explore the most fundamental aspects of human cognition, including thinking, decision-making, problem solving, memory, and language.

4. Psychopathology.

The final block will focus on a variety of psychological disorders, treatments and interventions. The impact of stress on mental wellbeing and recent advances in psychological therapy will be discussed.

Teaching method(s)

Classes will involve a mixture of lecture-based teaching, tutorial discussions, videos, and demonstrations of experimental methods. Students will be encouraged to complete weekly pre-lecture activities and home-based learning activities, which will be corrected and discussed in class. Feedback will be provided on all formative and summative assessments. Additional learning resources (e.g., research papers, scientific podcasts, video recordings of talks given by experts in the field) will be provided on a weekly basis.

Learning outcomes

‚ÄčOn completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Outline key concepts and theories, research areas, methods and empirical findings relating to the core areas of the study of psychology;

  • Compare and evaluate key theoretical frameworks when considering classic and contemporary research;

  • Identify key research methodologies and understand their advantages and limitations;

  • Demonstrate an awareness of the relevance of psychological concepts in real-life settings;

  • Convey ideas in a well-structured and coherent form.


Core Readings


  • Holt, N., Bremner, A., Sutherland, E., and Vliek, M. 2015. Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour. 3rd ed. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.

  • Eysenck, M. W., and Keane, M. T. 2015. Cognitive Psychology: A Student’s Handbook. 7th ed. Hove, East Sussex: Psychology Press.


  • Baddeley, A., Eysenck, M. W., and Anderson, M.C. 2014. Memory. 2nd ed. Hove, East Sussex: Psychology Press.

  • Branscombe, N. R., and Baron, R. A. 2016. Social Psychology. 14th ed. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

  • Casey, B. J., Jones, R. M., and Hare, T. A. 2008. The Adolescent Brain. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1124, pp. 111-126.

  • Corballis, M. C. 2014. Left Brain, Right Brain: Facts and Fantasies. PLOS Biology, 12(1), e1001767.

  • Eysenck, M. W., and Brysbaert, M. 2018. Fundamentals of Cognition. 3rd ed. Hove, East Sussex: Psychology Press.

  • Siegel, J. M. 2003. Why We Sleep. Scientific American, 289(5), pp. 92-97.


10 credit courses have one assessment. Normally, the assessment is a 2000 word essay, worth 100% of the total mark, submitted by week 12. To pass, students must achieve a minimum of 40%. There are a small number of exceptions to this model which are identified in the Studying for Credit Guide.

Studying for Credit

If you choose to study for credit you will need to allocate significant time outwith classes for coursework and assessment preparation. Credit points gained from this course can count towards the Certificate of Higher Education.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.