This Course is Expired

Psychology: an introduction

This course introduces the science of Psychology, exploring the richness of human functions, uncovering the brain’s secrets, revealing its complexities.
University of Oxford University Offices Wellington Square Oxford ,OX1 2JD United Kingdom
(4418) 65270000

Course at a Glance

Mode of learning : Online - Instructor Lead(LVC)

Domain / Subject : General/Others

Function : General

Starts on : 15th Sep 2014

Duration : 10 Weeks

Difficulty : Advanced

About the course

This course explores the richness of human functions and uncovers the secrets behind the brain, revealing its complexities and answering questions about how and why we behave (and misbehave!). The course reveals how psychologists study human behaviour in laboratory conditions and explains some of the difficulties encountered in doing so. The course is designed for those wishing to acquire an understanding of Psychology as a science, and the contributions of psychologists in the understanding of human behaviour.

Course aims

This course aims to introduce students to an understanding of five approaches in psychology: biological, psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioural and social psychology. 

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment due half way through the course and one longer assignment due at the end of the course. Students will have about two weeks to complete each assignment.

Teaching methods

  • Guided reading of texts
  • Group discussions of particular issues
    • Online participation in mock experiments
    • Discussions of experimental and ethical issues 
  • Students will be directed to websites relevant to each session (occasionally as a requirement, usually as optional additional reading)

Teaching outcomes

By the end of the course you will be able understand:

  • Aspects of psychology from multiple theoretical perspectives with reference to their history
  • The major theories of psychology and what psychologists do
  • How psychologists conduct experiments
  • Why some psychologists (e.g. Skinner, Freud, Milgram) used certain methods
  • The tools used for appropriate evaluation of the science behind the main topics in Psychology

Course eligibility

Course Requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.

Recommended reading

To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following text: Nolen-Hoeksema S., Fredrickson B., Loftus G.R., Wagenaar W.,Atkinson & Hilgard's Introduction to Psychology,(Cengage, Andover, 2009). The 15th edition from 2009 is the preferred version. However, if you only have access to the 14th edition from 2003 (written by Smith, Nolen-Hoeksema, Fridrickson and Loftus) you may use this and the corresponding chapters.

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Course Content

The areas you will cover in this course are:

  • A history of psychology
  • This is your brain
  • The development of thought and language
  • How memories are formed
  • Behaving ourselves: Reward and punishment
  • The development and measurement of personality
  • Why do we conform and whom do we obey?
  • Eating, drinking, sleeping and sex: Theories of motivation
  • Why do fools fall in love? Theories of attraction and relationship formation
  • When it all breaks down: Brain damage, tumours and strokes


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