Module code: PSY3117

Module Overview

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

This module will offer an advanced overview of topics connected with the social psychology of language and communication. Students will learn how key phenomena of social psychology such as stereotyping, discrimination, interpersonal and intergroup relations are formed, maintained, transmitted and changed through language means. In the process of doing so, students will learn the key theoretical and empirical developments of social psychology of language and communication and will get acquainted with different research approaches. Moreover, they will familiarise themselves with the applications of discussed theories in the media, medical and political communication, policy making, etc. Overall this module will allow students to analyse social psychological phenomena through the lenses of language and communication.

Module provider


Module Leader

FASOLI Fabio (Psychology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

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

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 2

Independent Learning Hours: 128

Seminar Hours: 18

Practical/Performance Hours: 2

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

BSc Psychology Levels 4 and 5 or equivalent. This module has a capped number and may not be available to ERASMUS and other international exchange students. Please check with the departmental exchange coordinator.

Module content

Indicative key topics will include:

  • Introduction to Language and Communication in Social Psychology

  • Culture, language and communication

  • Non-verbal communication

  • Verbal communication

  • Power of language and the language of power – how language affects and changes the interpersonal and intergroup settings

  • Power of language and the language of power – how language affects and changes gender bias and discrimination

  • Double-edge sword of humour – positive and negative aspects of joking

  • Communication and Persuasion

  • How can we study language in social psychology – methods of studying language

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Critical Presentation (15 minutes ) 40
Coursework Critical question (1 page) 10
Coursework Essay (6 pages) 50

Alternative Assessment

Alternative for the presentation: Panopto self-recorded session and a brief essay addressing critical questions provided by the module leader. 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 and reflect ability to communicate in different formats (oral and written) and to different audiences (e.g. academics and lay people).

Critical Presentation – 40% overall

Critical presentation (15 minutes). This assignment is on how to communicate research to a scientific audience. For this assignment we will create a mock conference setting. Groups of students will choose from a pool of articles from a scientific journal and will be asked to make a presentation. They will need to prepare a 15 minutes power-point presentation aiming to describe the paper (hypotheses, methods, results), to critically analyse it, and to suggest future directions. Finally, students will receive questions (see below) regarding the topic of the presentation. This part of the assignment will address learning outcomes 1,2,3,4

Critical Question – 10% overall

Critical question – 1 page entry. Each student will also need to prepare a critical question based on the articles addressed in one presentation. The rationale behind the question will need to be explained. This part of the assignment will address learning outcomes 2,3

Essay – popularizing science 6 pages – 50% of the final mark

This assignment is on how to communicate research to a general audience. Students will be asked to read on a language related phenomenon in psychological research. They will be asked to evaluate the phenomenon under consideration, the key results provided by research, and the open questions. In doing so, students could refer to specific everyday life and mass media experiences. This assessment will allow to develop communication skills of presenting social psychological research to a broader audience in a written form. Examples of such type of articles will be provided (e.g., InquisitiveMind). This will assess learning outcomes 1, 3, 4.

Formative assessment and feedback

Students will receive verbal formative feedback from both the lecturers and peers on their presentations. Discussion boards will be available on Surreylearn.

Module aims

  • - Recognise in practice language biases and explain their functions, mechanisms and ways of limiting them
  • - Discuss and evaluate different theoretical perspectives on the interplay between language and social psychology
  • - Synthesize new knowledge on language and communication with knowledge on social psychology
  • - Be familiar with the range of methods used in studying language and communication and with the importance of triangulation of research methods
  • - Recognise strengths and weaknesses of scientific evidence and communicate it to various audiences

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Systematically describe and synthesize research on social psychology of language and communication K
002 Critically evaluate research with a focus on methods, measurements and theories referring to language and communication C
003 Communicate critical evaluation of research to various audiences CPT
004 Recognise applications of theoretical perspectives in communication (e.g. mass media such as newspaper, tweets or political speeches) C

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

This module will introduce students to the foundational knowledge of theories and research of social psychology of language and communication including linguistic intergroup biases, the functions and results of stereotypical language and metaphors, and verbal/non-verbal communication. Lectures will be combined with group discussions and demonstrations in order to engage students with described content and promote critical thinking and synthesis of the knowledge. Videos and everyday life examples will be used to stimulate discussion on specific theories and to allow students analysing phenomenon through evidence-based lenses.

In order for students to fully profit from the suggested approach, it will be essential that all students read the core reading before assigned classes to enable them to contribute.

The course will have a dedicated SurreyLearn site, where the reading list, materials from the lectures, relevant links and workshop materials will be available.

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: PSY3117

Other information


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Psychology BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

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.