Psychology, Winter postcards from our modules

A winter postcard from module DD801 Principles of Social and Psychological Inquiry


We continue the series of winter postcards from the School’s modules, written by the academics who work mostly closely with students and tutors, the Staff Tutors. They write about what’s happening on each module at this point in the year. Today Lucy Wilde writes about DD801, the first module in the postgraduate programme.

Hello. I’m Lucy. I joined the Open University as an Associate Lecturer in 2014 teaching on undergraduate psychology modules and I then became a Staff Tutor here in 2018. Before becoming a Staff Tutor, I worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Birmingham, researching behaviour shown by children and adults with rare genetic syndromes.

I hugely enjoy and value my work at the Open University, both tutoring as an Associate Lecturer and supporting the delivery of tuition as a Staff Tutor. As part of my Staff Tutor role I am on the module team for the postgraduate module DD801, Principles of Social and Psychological Inquiry.

What’s happening at the moment on DD801?

DD801 introduces students to a number of key principles of social and psychological inquiry. It is the first module which students take in a number of postgraduate qualifications. Students who complete DD801 may go on to study DD802 Investigating forensic psychology, DD803 Evaluating psychological research and practiceor DD804 Crime and global justiceto complete a Master’s degree.

At this point in DD801, students are preparing for their third piece of assessed work for the module. For TMA03 students write a commissioned report for a professional, non-specialist audience in which they evaluate the use of different research methods.

Students are also having the second of their coaching sessions with their tutors. They will use the session to evaluate their progress towards module and wider goals that they identified in the first caching session and any changes that they feel might be required to achieve them. These revised objectives then form the other part of TMA03.

What are the students enjoying about this module?[

In DD801, students enjoy the opportunity to develop their own case study around a topic which interests them, choosing from several broad areas identified by the module team. This brings together the skills of social and psychological inquiry which the students have developed through their work on the module. They start work on the case study quite early on, submitting a proposal for their tutor to provide feedback on. They continue working on the case study for the final assessment. This provides continuity and a clear focus as they work through the various principles of social and psychological inquiry

Students also value the close relationship they are able to build with their DD801 tutor. The two one-to-one coaching sessions provide the time and space to explore personal goals and objectives with the support of an experienced tutor. The module also has several online ‘tutor group’ tutorials between the students and their tutor, providing further opportunity for discussion and interaction. In addition, students can interact with other tutors and students from other tutor groups in ‘cluster’ tutorials.

What do you yourself find interesting about DD801?

One of the things I find most interesting about DD801 is the breadth of topics and methodologies which it considers, and how it brings these together. The evaluation of the way different methods are used to investigate various social and psychological topics is innovative and invites students to consider issues from new perspectives. For example students are currently covering material on ADHD. This is a topic which students may have encountered before, but in DD801 they are asked to consider how it can be understood using critical discourse analysis, an approach they are less likely to have encountered in relation to ADHD.

The focus on evaluation in the module also helps students to become critical consumers of information. This ability to critically evaluate information has become more important than ever in the current era of ‘fake news’.

What message would you send to current and future students on DD801?

My first recommendation would be embrace the opportunity to explore the range of different approaches and topics you will encounter. DD801 provides a broad foundation of knowledge and you will encounter new topics, perspectives and methods, some of which might take you in a different direction to the one you thought you might follow when you started out on the module. You can then use your broad knowledge to explore more specialist topic areas in your second module if you choose to go on to complete the Master’s qualification.

As part of this process of exploration another tip I’d offer is to take advantage of the coaching sessions provided to work with your tutor on your personal goals and objectives. This opportunity for reflection can be really valuable for your personal and academic development.

Anything else?

As with any postgraduate course, study on DD801 can be intense at times so being able to think about when you will fit it in with competing demands is important. This means that you will be able enjoy the process of inquiry at a manageable pace.

If you’d like to try studying at this level, check out the free OpenLearn course The Social Nature of Being Human

This is a six-hour course adapted from DD801 materials.


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