Module code: PSY3102

Module Overview

Please note: This module is part of the Social Psychology stream of Level 6 optional modules and will not be running every year. In some years an alternative optional module within the Social Psychology stream will be offered instead.

This module focuses on the interplay between the self—people’s cognitions, emotions, and motivations relating to themselves—and interpersonal relationships in adulthood. Self-related constructs and processes permeate the way that we think, feel, and behave in social interactions and ongoing relationships. At the same time, our experiences with other people, especially close others, affect the way we feel about ourselves in the short-term and feed into the way we view ourselves in the long-term. There are also notable individual differences in both effects. These reciprocal processes underlie much of everyday social experience and wellbeing, and can help us to understand our own relationships and feelings, as well as inform applications in therapeutic and organisational settings. However, so far, elements of each process have mostly been studied separately. In this module, we will discuss theory and research addressing different ways that the self and relationships are interdependent and attempt to synthesise the literature to achieve a more holistic understanding of the issues.

Module provider


Module Leader

HEPPER Erica (Psychology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 128

Lecture Hours: 22

Module Availability

Semester 1

Module content

Indicative key topics will include:

  • Need to belong, relationships and health, major theories of relationships

  • The self-concept (including sociometer theory)

  • Attachment theory, the self-concept and relationships

  • Self-regulation in interpersonal context

  • Self-esteem and excessive reassurance-seeking

  • Narcissism and relationships

  • Contingencies of self-worth

  • Self-expansion and inclusion of other in the self

  • The role of culture

  • Applying theory and research to relationship case studies

  • Integration: How do the self and relationships influence each other?


Some of these topics focus on how the self impacts interpersonal processes, and others focus on how relationships impact the self; but throughout we will consider reciprocal and bidirectional processes. The order and specificity of the topics above is flexible.


Each week we will discuss and evaluate the contribution and potential applications of the topic at hand.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Oral exam or presentation CASE STUDY PRESENTATION (10 MINUTES) 50

Alternative Assessment

Students who take temporary suspension partway through this module may not be able to complete the remaining classes for this module on their return if it is not running in the following academic year. Such students will have the choice to take a replacement module, or, if they have already completed an assessment for the original module, to attend classes from a new optional module within the same stream (area of psychology) and complete an alternative assessment based on this content that meets the learning outcomes of the original module. The specific alternative assessment will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate each of the learning outcomes.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

Literature Review Coursework (6 pages, 50%)

Each student’s literature review will focus on a key theory/topic covered in class, and should review and critique the current state of the literature in order to identify an important next step for research (i.e., approximating the first section of a research proposal or a dissertation introduction). Specifically, the review should (a) set the context for why the topic is important, (b) provide the theoretical background and summarise the literature, (c) critique the literature, and (d) describe a specific question for future research.

For support, we will discuss the assessment in class. Students will also be encouraged to swap drafts with each other to give each other feedback.

The deadline will be in the second half of the semester so that students have a choice of several topics to focus on and an awareness of the key methods used in the field.

Case Study Presentation (10 minutes, 50%)

Each student will identify a case study of an everyday relationship issue, problem or dilemma from the media (e.g., a celebrity or fictional relationship). They will prepare and deliver a 10-minute oral presentation with PowerPoint slides which analyses this case study using a critical application and discussion of appropriate theory and research. This will require students to synthesise material across multiple weeks of the course and further reading.

The presentations will be scheduled for the end of semester and students will present to peers as well as the marker. Marking criteria will be weighted primarily towards the content and effective use of slides, with a small component on delivery. This scheme is intended to reduce anxiety and enable students to build confidence in delivering presentations.


Formative assessment and feedback

Each student has the opportunity to submit a 100-word literature review proposal a few weeks before the coursework deadline to obtain formative feedback on the feasibility of the idea.

Each student has the opportunity to volunteer to give a practice 5-minute presentation in class during the semester to get formative feedback and build confidence. They will have the opportunity to submit their chosen case study before the presentation to obtain formative feedback on its suitability for the assessment. They are also encouraged to swap draft presentations with each other for peer feedback.

Students will also receive verbal feedback (from the module convenor and each other) on their topic understanding, conceptualisation and ideas in each class discussion session. The module convenor will engage with the SurreyLearn discussion board and respond to queries or issues that arise there.

Justification for Assessment Methods

Presentations will build oral and visual communication skills, as well as confidence. This assesses Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3 and 5.

Literature reviews will assess Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 4, and 5. The format is very similar to the dissertation introduction, providing students with an opportunity to practise this type of writing and receive feedback before they write their dissertation. It also reflects a common part of postgraduate and academic professional work.

Module aims

  • Discuss and evaluate different theoretical perspectives on the interplay between the self and interpersonal relationships
  • Highlight the range of research methods used in this area (e.g., experiments, longitudinal  studies, experience-sampling)
  • Consider how knowledge of the self can inform applications in relational settings (e.g., relationship satisfaction, couples therapy) and how knowledge of relationships can inform applications in individual settings (e.g., motivation, self-efficacy)
  • Appreciate the strengths and limitations of merging the two literatures
  • Gain insight that can be applied to students' own self and relationships

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Discuss and synthesise key theoretical perspectives on the interplay between the self and interpersonal relationships K
2 Critically evaluate theories and research in terms of strengths, limitations, and gaps in the literature C
3 Apply key concepts to everyday life and relationships C
4 Generate appropriate critical questions and research ideas to contribute to the field P
5 Communicate concepts, findings, and ideas in the field in ways appropriate to the profession (e.g., PowerPoint orally, and writing a rigorous argument) T

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to engage students with learning about the state of the field as well as equipping them to contribute to the field themselves. Therefore, it includes a combination of lecture and discussion.  It is essential that all students read the core reading before class each week to enable them to contribute.

The learning and teaching methods across 11 x 2-hour class sessions will include:

  • Beginning and ending weeks: Lecture and interactive discussion

  • Weeks 3-8 (approx.): Discussion and formative feedback on essential reading; lecture focusing on recent evidence (option for students to do a practice presentation if they wish); discussion of key questions

  • Preparation for assessments: partial sessions in appropriately timed weeks to discuss effective presentation skills and literature reviews

In addition, formative feedback will be available from module convenor on literature review proposals and chosen case studies a few weeks before the relevant assessment deadline, and students will have the option of signing up to deliver a formative presentation in one of the classes where they will get formative feedback.

Dedicated SurreyLearn page including space to discuss readings.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: PSY3102

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2019/0 academic year.