Module code: PSYM150

Module Overview

This module provides psychology students with a grounding in how the theories and methods of the discipline are being used to address real-world challenges. In doing so, it allows students an overview of some of the research taking place within Surrey's School of Psychology, and introduces some of the academics who work here.

The module uses the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs - as an organising structure. Each of the core weeks is focused around the work of a researcher or team, and is framed in terms of how this research addresses one of the SDGs. (For example, work from the Environmental Psychology Research Group might presented as an example of how psychology addresses the "Sustainable Cities and Communities" SDG).

Module provider


Module Leader

GENTLE Judith (Psychology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 89

Lecture Hours: 22

Tutorial Hours: 6

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 22

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

This module is deliberately designed so that the specific content can change from year to year to reflect the evolving nature of our research expertise and to reflect developments in global outlook or major news events. As such, the outline below is indicative only:

- INITIAL WEEK: Introduction; learning objectives; how to approach this module

- CENTRAL WEEKS: topic-specific lectures from subject-matter experts tied to specific SDGs. Tutorials on assessment preparation. Q&A sessions.

- FINAL WEEK: Group poster presentations

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Essay 50
Oral exam or presentation Group presentation 50

Alternative Assessment

In the event that a student cannot be assessed through the group presentation, they can instead be assessed with a recorded presentation. The goal of this assignment is to encourage critical reflection on common themes across applications of psychological theory and methods, and it will be easy to assess these same skills using a recorded presentation. 

Assessment Strategy

Assessment combines group and individual elements. There will be 50% individual essay that asks for critical reflection on the role of psychology in addressing real-world problems. The other 50% of credit is for a group presentation that asks for an integrative interpretation of material across sessions, explicitly drawing out key themes.

Formative Assessment and Feedback

Verbal feedback will be provided for both assessments during tutorials and workshops by the lecturer and peers.

Module aims

  • To provide students with an understanding of how psychological theories and insights are relevant to addressing real-world issues
  • To make students aware of the research activity taking place within Surrey's School of Psychology

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 The ability to demonstrate how psychological insights have helped address a range of real-world problems K
002 The ability to identify common themes in what psychology might say about a range of different applications CK
003 The ability to evaluate and critique the utility of psychological approaches to large-scale problems in the context of alternative approaches such as structural change KPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning


Core material will be delivered through weekly lectures and students will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss ideas with presenters. Later in the module, students will also undertake group activities working towards a group presentation that will require them critically to integrate ideas from across topics and thereby illustrate an awareness of what psychology can and cannot do to address major real-world challenges.This will help them to develop an inquisitive mind and become well informed about the global challenges we face as well as understanding some of the strategies we are employing to improve outcomes.  

Later in the module, students will also develop their digital literacy skills as they undertake group activities working towards a group presentation. By critically integrating ideas from across topics, they will illustrate an awareness of what psychology can and cannot do to address major real-world challenges. This exercise will increase employability skills and allow students from different learning environments and cultures to maximise their learning by sharing their own experiences and reflections.

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: PSYM150

Other information

In line with Surrey’s Curriculum Framework, we are committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module contributes to the five pillars in the following ways:


This module supports the students’ employability skills as it will provide information about key global challenges which will be highly relevant to employers. These include gender equality, decent work and economic growth and quality education, all of which are important for robust employment opportunities.  Additionally, during the course, students will work in a team to prepare and deliver their poster presentation. One important lesson to learn when designing a presentation is that it only has a limited space on the slides for information. Thus, the students will need to work together to ensure they have all the necessary content to fully maximise their message and present it in a way that is visually impactful. Additionally, giving a presentation will develop communication skills that are highly regarded in the world of work.

Digital capabilities

Students will need to engage with several elements of digital skill during the course; they will utilize the university of Surrey Virtual Learning Environment (SurreyLearn) to access the course materials and key content. Students will also need to use on-line search engines to research academic journal articles for their assignments. Additionally, in preparation for the group assignment, students often create on-line groups (WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, Zoom) to discuss the project developments and arrange meetings. The coursework also provides further digital learning opportunities using Microsoft word and PowerPoint.

Global and cultural capabilities The main focus of this module is to focus on global challenges. Students will learn about a range of different theoretical and practical approaches designed to address many of the issues currently facing global citizens. Students will have the opportunity to learn from a range of diverse topics all invested in strategies to improve the ‘global partnership’, committed to reduce poverty, improve health and education and address climate change.  


In this module, which is based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, students will learn the importance of designing a world that can support human life in the long-term. The SDGs are a call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere. Students will hear lectures from a wide range of research conducted in the psychology department to address issues such as gender equality (goal 5), good health and well-being (goal 3), zero hunger (goal 2) and reduced inequalities (goal 10). On completion of this course, students will be aware of the challenges we face globally, but also what is currently being done to address these challenges as we work towards a more sustainable future.

Resourcefulness and resilience

This module will provide several opportunities to develop resourcefulness and resilience and the assessments will play an important role in this pillar. Students will need to be resourceful as they will be asked to research, critically evaluate and present information to an audience. This will be the first experience many students will have had to deliver a presentation and, whilst the presentations will be delivered to a supportive audience of peers, these tasks will be challenging for many. However, successful completion of the task will bring increased confidence and will enable the student to reflect on a positive outcome which will build resilience.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Environmental Psychology MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% 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.