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): 45

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 115

Seminar Hours: 22

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 2

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


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

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate each of the learning outcomes and develop their skills in different styles of communicating about science.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:


Literature Review Coursework (6 pages)


Each student’s literature review will develop and propose a novel research question based on one or more key theories/topics 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, (d) describe a specific question for future research, and (e) suggest possible methods for testing the research question. 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.


Online Exam (Poster + 5 minute recording)


Each student will identify a case study of an everyday relationship in the public domain (e.g., a celebrity or fictional relationship). They will prepare a poster that analyses the case study using a critical application and discussion of appropriate theory and research covered in the module. Students will record a 5-minute presentation in which they talk through their poster, and will upload the recording on a specified date in the exam period.


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 submit their chosen case study before the exam to obtain formative feedback on its suitability for the assessment.


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


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 courses, academic professional work and research careers so it prepares them for securing and succeeding in postgraduate training or academic jobs, enhancing their employability.


Poster presentations will build oral and visual communication skills as well as developing digital capabilities and confidence using PowerPoint and audio recording. This assesses Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3 and 5.


Module aims

  • Discuss and evaluate different theoretical perspectives on the interplay between the self and interpersonal relationships in diverse contexts
  • Highlight the range of research methods used in this area (e.g., experiments, longitudinal  studies, experience-sampling) which may be useful in research related careers
  • 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)
  • Develop students¿ confidence in discussing theory and research with each other and communicating to others about this area of psychology
  • Gain insight that can be applied to students' own self and relationships
  • Provide students with the opportunity to use software to create a poster and record a presentation

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Discuss and synthesise key theoretical perspectives on the interplay between the self and interpersonal relationships K
002 Critically evaluate theories and research in terms of strengths, limitations, and gaps in the literature C
003 Apply key concepts to everyday life and relationships C
004 Generate appropriate critical questions and research ideas to contribute to the field P
005 Communicate concepts, findings, and ideas in the field in ways appropriate to the profession 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. This will help to develop students’ employability skills as well as their resourcefulness and resilience by learning to prepare appropriately.

The learning and teaching methods across 11 weekly 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; 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.

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

Other information


Surrey's Curriculum Framework is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills and capabilities in the following areas:


Resourcefulness and resilience:

Students will be encouraged to prepare professionally for each class and manage their time, developing their resourcefulness. They actively engage with in-class discussions and are encouraged to ask questions and think critically. This gives an opportunity to develop their confidence discussing issues in small groups and sharing with the class. The case study poster presentation gives an opportunity to develop confidence in delivering an oral presentation, in a scaffolded way as this is recorded rather than presented under pressure.


Global and cultural capabilities:

The module will include discussion of theory and research concerning cultural influences on key topics, as well as diverse types of relationships. Students are encouraged to share experiences and knowledge from their own cultures and backgrounds, and to respect and value differences in experience.


Digital Capabilities:

Students will use PowerPoint to prepare their poster and will be encouraged to use visual tools within the software to make the poster look professional and appealing. They will also have practice at recording an audio presentation.



Students will develop key communication skills that are important in graduate employment or postgraduate study: writing academic research proposals, discussing scientific issues with peers, creating a poster, and delivering a concise presentation. Students will also increase their familiarity with more advanced research methods which will be useful for those entering research-related jobs.

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 2023/4 academic year.