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Discovering psychology

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Drawing on a wide range of studies and some classic pieces of psychological research, this key introductory Level 1 course provides an accessible and engaging introduction to the study of psychology. Discovering psychology explores the different ways in which psychologists investigate the human mind and behaviour, and shows you how psychological research addresses real-life issues. You will be provided with a textbook and access to a website containing an online study guide, audio-visual material and interactive activities which are designed to help you develop your knowledge and skills.

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No current presentation - see Future availability

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2014.

What you will study

Discovering psychology introduces the diversity and breadth of approaches in the discipline of psychology and the many different ways psychologists study the human mind and behaviour. 

Discovering psychology has 30 weeks of study and two weeks set aside for holiday. The study weeks commence from the above start date, and you will need to set aside between eleven and fifteen hours of study time for each of these weeks. 

The course is organised into three parts:

Part 1 explores why people do harm to others. Using this as an example, you’ll look at how human behaviour may be influenced by personality and situational factors, and the ways in which learning also plays a role.

Part 2 focuses on what determines human behaviour more widely, including the role of evolution and the importance of social relations. The topics you will cover include: What makes people change their behaviour? What is the basis of a child’s attachment to its caregivers? How important is friendship, especially in childhood?

Part 3 centres on a key question in psychology – how can we study psychological processes that cannot be directly observed, such as language, attention or memory? 

The course is built around a textbook Investigating Psychology and a website containing activities and audio-visual material that will form part of your core study time. There is also an online study guide which will guide you through your studies.

The online material will extend your understanding of the topics and issues discussed in the book in a number of different ways:

  • the audio-visual material picks up on specific questions addressed in each chapter
  • the interactive exercises will develop your understanding of the research methods used in psychology and will help you consolidate your understanding of key psychological concepts
  • the online activities will help you develop the skills needed for your own learning.

The website also provides guidance on further study, and resources on how psychology is used in a range of workplaces and careers.

You will learn

You will learn about:

  • some of the topics that psychologists investigate
  • how the research process develops from asking questions, through collecting evidence to evaluating the findings.

You will develop skills in:

  • accessing and interpreting information
  • constructing arguments
  • presenting and communicating information.

You will develop the skill of managing your time effectively by organising your work to meet a schedule. You will also have the opportunity to reflect on a study pathway leading to personal and/or career goals.


This is a key introductory Level 1 course. Level 1 courses provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning, to help you progress to Level 2 study.

Although you can study this course on its own, it is designed to follow on from the 30-credit course Introducing the social sciences - part one (DD131).  These two courses will be available for the last time in February 2014.

If your study goal is a degree in psychology, we strongly recommend that you start your studies with the 60-credit course Introducing the social sciences (DD101), which is currently the first module students study for that degree. This will prepare you for further studies in psychology, including our new 60-credit Level 1 course Investigating psychology 1 (DE100) available from October 2014.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

This module includes a website and the use of tools such as online activities and audio-visual files. If you use specialist software or hardware to assist you in using a personal computer or the internet and have any concerns about accessing this type of material you are advised to talk to the Student Registration & Enquiry Service about support which can be given to meet your needs.

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and scientific, diagrammatic and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Paper versions of the online study materials are available on request via the regional office. Also, audio CDs and a DVD of the audio and video materials can be ordered via a link on the StudentHome page. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:

  • help to determine your study requirements and how to request the support that you need  
  • Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
  • using a computer for OU study
  • equipment and other support services that we offer
  • examination arrangements
  • how to contact us for advice and support both before you register and while you are studying.

Study materials

What's included

Textbook, other printed materials and website containing an online study guide, audio-visual material and activities.

You will need

As part of this course you will need to watch short online videos, listen to audio files and participate in online activities.  For this reason we recommend broadband access to the internet.  Alternatively, you can request a DVD/CD of the video and audio files via StudentHome after the course start date – we will provide more details when you register.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2007 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.6 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We will offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the course. We will also offer online tutorials that you are encouraged to participate in.

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this course can be found in the facts box above.

You can choose whether to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) on paper or online through the eTMA system. You may want to use the eTMA system for some of your assignments but submit on paper for others. This is entirely your choice.

The end-of-module assessment (EMA) must be submitted online via the eTMA system.

Future availability

The details given here are for the course that starts in February 2014 when it will be available for the last time. A new 60-credit course Investigating psychology 1 (DE100), covering a similar area, will be available from October 2014.

How to register

We regret that we are currently unable to accept registrations for this course. Where the course is to be presented again in the future, relevant registration information will be displayed on this page as soon as it becomes available.

Student Reviews

“This was the first module that I had studied with the OU and I did it alongside DD131. I feel ...”
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“From the moment I first opened the text book, right through to the end, I throughly enjoyed this course. I ...”
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Distance learning

The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information read Distance learning explained.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.
Course facts
About this course:
Course code DSE141
Credits 30
OU Level 1
SCQF level 7
FHEQ level 4
Course work includes:
2 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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