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Starting with psychology

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Why do people behave in certain ways? What’s going on in other people’s minds? What influences our thoughts, feelings, abilities and behaviour? This module introduces key ideas in psychology. You’ll consider how aspects of our biology, ways of thinking, important relationships, and social identity combine to make us who we are; how psychologists gather their evidence; and the type of work that psychologists can do. This Openings Access module gently introduces you to OU study – ideal if you’re a beginner or returning to study. It also provides an opportunity to try out learning online; the perfect way to gain the basic computing skills you’ll need for the next step in your studies.

This Openings Access module is only available if you live in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

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No current presentation - see Future availability

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

What you will study

Starting with psychology introduces key psychological concepts and develops your knowledge of the way psychologists work. Whether you are thinking of further study in psychology or are simply interested in finding out about this fascinating and challenging subject, this Openings Access module has much to offer.

A central feature of the module is its exploration of psychology from different viewpoints. Throughout the module, you’ll focus on the psychology of happiness, examining this topic from each viewpoint. The module uses interesting and varied examples to help you get to grips with the subject while at the same time developing the skills you need to become a confident learner.

How can investigating damaged brains increase our knowledge of healthy brain functioning? You’ll look at several case studies of people who have experienced some form of brain damage and consider any subsequent changes in their behaviour.

How do we think and how do we organise our thoughts? The way that we take in and manipulate information from the world about us can affect the way that we understand our world and can influence our feelings and behaviour.

How are we influenced by our relationships with people who are important in our lives? You’ll consider the impact of early relationships between babies and their main carers, and then the important features of later friendships and romantic partnerships.

How do the roles we play and the groups we belong to shape who we are? We play many roles throughout our lives and can belong to a number of different groups ranging in size from just a few people to large cultural groups.

You will complete your study of psychology with two more chapters on the website. You’ll look at what methods psychologists use to conduct their research, and how psychologists apply the knowledge gathered from their research in areas such as education, crime and work. You will also have the opportunity to gain skills such as working with podcasts, using online forums and searching the internet for information relating to the subject. This experience will provide you with a gentle introduction to using a computer to support your study, and will equip you with the basic computing skills you will need for the next step in your studies.

You only need to use a computer for the last part of the module once you've completed the book, so if you don’t currently have one you’ve plenty of time to make arrangements. You can use your own computer or one at a library or drop-in centre. Please note that you can study and pass this module if you don’t have access to the internet and a computer.


Like all Openings Access modules, this module is ideal if you’re a beginner or returning to study, and we will help you to develop your study skills and become a confident learner.

You can study this module as an additional preparatory stage of your chosen qualification, or as a standalone module but whichever option you chose, you will receive all the preparation you need to be a successful university student.

The study materials have been prepared with the needs of new learners in mind. No special knowledge or previous experience of studying is required. Taking examples from everyday life, this module enables you to use your general knowledge and interests and gradually build up to degree-level study. You will develop key study skills such as time management, note-taking, reading for study purposes and reflection on your own learning.

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

Outside the UK

This Openings Access module is only available if you live in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

If you live in England, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or if you have a British Forces Post Office (BFPO) address, we offer a choice of three 30-credit Access modules:


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

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable 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 or foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. The printed study materials are available on audio in DAISY Digital Talking Book format. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

If you opt to do the online element of this module you will need to make use of a personal computer and the internet.  If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in operating a computer or have concerns about accessing the type of material outlined, talk to the Student Registration & Enquiry Service before registering about the support which can be given to meet your needs.

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

Module books, DVD and a website where you can access the online resources.

Digital copies (PDFs) of most materials, and transcripts of the DVD can be found on the website. Transcripts are also available on the DVD itself if it is accessed through a computer.

You will need

Access to a telephone (preferably a landline) for contact with your tutor; and the equipment to play and watch a video DVD e.g. a television and DVD player or a personal computer with DVD-ROM.

You will need access to the internet and a computer to study the last two chapters of this module or if you wish to receive and send email and use our online services.

Computing requirements

This course includes optional, online, computer activities, which you can access using a web browser.

To take part in the online activities you will need a computer with internet access.

  • 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 keep in touch by a combination of telephone, written correspondence and, if you want, email. There are no face-to-face tutorials; all tutorials are conducted between the individual student and their tutor on the telephone. Your tutor will help you to plan your work and to think about the ideas explored in the module. Your tutor will also comment on and help you with your written work. At the end of the module you will discuss your progress with your tutor, and you will work together to review your learning.

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 module can be found in the facts box above.

You can choose whether to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) and end-of-module assessment (EMA) 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 iCMA (interactive computer-marked assignment) needs to be submitted online.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in June and November 2013 and March 2014 when it will be available for the last time. Each module lasts for a maximum of 20 weeks.

How to register

Student Reviews

“This was my second module with the OU and I absolutely loved it! I was unsure at first whether or ...”
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“Having been intrigued by psychology I decided I wanted to study it. I had not done any academic work for ...”
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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 Y183
Credits 15
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

Course satisfaction survey

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