Cognitive and Social Perspectives on Psychology


This module will introduce the cognitive and social aspects of the BPS core curriculum. Cognitive psychology encompasses much of what are considered ‘mental processes’. These processes range from relatively low-level processes of perception to higher level things like memory and decision making. Social psychology is the study of how we process information about others, and the biases that influence this processing. The module will combine conventional lectures on both cognitive and social psychology, supported by practical classes exposing students to experiments as participants.


The module aims to provide students with a critical and comprehensive understanding of the major topics, empirical research and theoretical approaches in cognitive and social psychology. The student will learn about how cognitive and social psychology work as sciences, and will participate in experiments to deepen their understanding.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Understand conceptual and historical issues in cognitive and social psychology, the origins and philosophical underpinnings.

2.  Convey the major features of cognitive and social psychological processes.

3.  Understand the key models and research findings in cognition and social psychology.

4.  Evaluate psychological research findings.

Indicative Content

1 Conceptual and historical perspectives in cognition

Origins of research in cognition, and cognitive neuropsychology. Understanding how cognitive processes operate in different brain areas.

2 Neural architectures

Neurones, receptive fields and vision. How does the brain connect the world outside with our thoughts and experiences?

3 Conceptual and historical issues in social psychology

Defining social cognition and social behaviour. Understanding classic and contemporary approaches, and the social processing biases they reveal.

4 Pro- and anti-social behaviour

Exploring the influence of social learning on aggression and the social factors that influence helping behaviour.

5 Attitudes and social influences

Understanding attitudes and the attitude-behaviour link, routes to attitude change. Conformity and obedience.

6 Decision making and problem solving

Exploring the impact of social identity on perception and behaviour. Stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination.

7 Perception and recognition

The recognition of objects and faces.

8 Attention

Is cognition a limited resource to be allocated carefully or do we attend to everything?

9 Learning and memory

What circumstances determine how we learn new information? How is this information stored in our brains and how do we access this information while reasoning?

10 Decision making and problem solving

How do we choose responses, how do we solve problems?

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Unit 1 will take the form a 1200 word essay, submitted online, this will assess your understanding of a question related to social cognition. Associated Learning Outcomes [1,2,3,4]. Unit 2 will take the form of an online exam consisting of approximately 30 MCQ questions and 2 short-answers. These questions will assess concentrate upon cognitive psychological questions. Associated Learning Outcomes [1,2,3,4]

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 24
Tutorial/Seminar 0
Supervised Practical Activity 8
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 40
Independent 128

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2019/20 , and may be subject to change for future years.