Psychology: An Introduction (Online)
This course introduces the science of psychology, exploring the richness of human functions, uncovering the brain’s secrets, revealing its complexities. Studies from the biological, psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioural and social approaches are presented. This course is appropriate for gaining understanding of psychology and in preparation for more specialised courses.
Listen to Dr Anna Scarna talking about the course:
Psychology is the study of human behaviour. It takes the form of a number of different approaches, including biological, psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioural and social theories. In this course students are introduced to key research studies in each of these areas, and find out the answers to questions such as: What does the brain look like? How does it work? How do we think? How do we learn languages? How do we remember, and why do we forget? Why do we like to eat, drink, sleep and have sex? Why do we conform and whom do we obey? Why do we disobey? Why and how do we fall in love? How do relationships break up? 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.
For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.
Unit 1: Introduction
- The history of psychology as an academic discipline
- Psychology as a science
- Research methods
- Working with experimental results
Unit 2: This is your brain
- Brain neurophysiology at the cellular level
- The brain structures
- The separation of brain and mind?
Unit 3: The development of thought and language
- Learning to think
- The development of language
- Can animals learn language?
Unit 4: How memories are formed
- Memories are made of this
- The biological basis of memory
- Memory for future events
- Brain damage and forgetting
Unit 5: Behaving ourselves: Reward and punishment
- Learning to behave: Skinner’s theory
- Classical conditioning
- Applications to everyday life
Unit 6: The development and measurement of personality
- Early theories of personality – the four humours
- The ‘super three’ or the ‘big five’ traits?
- Reliability and validity
- Biological approaches
Unit 7: Why do we conform and whom do we obey?
Unit 8: Eating, drinking, sleeping and sex: Theories of motivation
- Biological and psychological theories of motivation
- To sleep perchance to dream ...
- Psychological theories of motivation
Unit 9: Why do fools fall in love? Theories of attraction and relationship formation
- The formation of relationships
- How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...
- Theories of romantic relationship formation
- Evolutionary theories of partner selection
Unit 10: When it all breaks down: Brain damage, tumours and strokes
- Brain damage
- The case of Phineas Gage
- Neuropsychological problems
We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.
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
The 16th or 15th editions are preferred. However, if you only have access to the 14th edition from 2003 (written by Smith, Nolen-Hoeksema, Fridrickson and Loftus) you may use this.
To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £10 fee.
For more information on CATS point please click on the link below: http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/studentsupport/faq/cats.php
Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.
Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.
All students who successfully complete this course, whether registered for credit or not, are eligible for a Certificate of Completion. Completion consists of submitting both course assignments and actively participating in the course forums. Certificates will be available, online, for those who qualify after the course finishes.
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.
EU Fee: £270.00
Non-EU Fee: £295.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00
Jo is a psychologist with a background in mental health research completing projects for various univerisities as well as the NHS . She is also a qualified integrative counsellor working in general practice with children, young people and adults
Dr Anna Scarnà is a psychologist and has worked as a university lecturer in for several years. She is interested in attention, memory, and language function, personality traits, and psychological disorders. Most recently, her work has been on wellbeing.
This course aims to introduce students to an understanding of five approaches in psychology: biological, psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioural and social psychology.
- 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).
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.
Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment of 500 words due half way through the course and one longer assignment of 1500 words due at the end of the course.
Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.
Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.
Level and demands
FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course
Sources of funding
Information on financial support