Psychology in Action (PSYL10150)

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Psychology in Action (PSYL10150)


The course will allow you to experience psychology in action in two contexts – in academic research and in the wider world. The goal is to show how the skills you’ve gained during the programme so far can be applied in real life and to familiarise you with some environments in which science is done and communicated.

The course is split into four sections, one per block, with two interweaving themes of research in academia and science communication. It is delivered through an online component with self-study modules, graded quizzes, tutor moderated online discussions and short assessments. The online component is are supported by introductory lectures and hands-on workshops to develop practical skills. 


Course elements:


Research in academia

This section runs in weeks 1-5 in semester 1. It covers how research is done in academia and other environments, how research funding works and the basics of the academic publishing system. This information will help you understand the context of research you read about in papers, and be better prepared for your own projects. It also contains information on research ethics, which will be useful for your Mini-Dissertation and Year 4 Dissertations.

Varieties of science engagement

This section runs in weeks 7-11 in semester 1. It covers the basics of science communication and engagement for various audiences, including the psychological research behind science engagement. It also contains information on running interviews, and examples of excellent science communication.

Replication crisis

This section runs in weeks 1-5 in Semester 2. It covers the issues surrounding the current ‘replication crisis’ in social sciences, including its roots, the effects it’s had on science, and the solutions that psychology has to implement to improve the reliability of its findings. 

Debating science and psychology

This section runs in weeks 6-10 in semester 2. It covers a few examples of social debates over science (such as the disagreements over global warming and intelligence research), the psychology behind such conflicts, and some evidence regarding how to communicate science in a way that works for audiences with varying beliefs and priorities. 

Research interview

For this component, you will work in your Mini Dissertation groups to conduct a short interview with one of our active research staff members (who isn’t your supervisor). The research interview aims to give you more insight into the types of research done at Edinburgh University and give you a chance to talk to active researchers in fields related to your own project. This element will also directly feed into the final assessment for the course. 


Lectures and workshops - 

The lectures will cover the general course structure, the assessments, and will be an opportunity to ask questions about the contents of each semester. There are two lectures scheduled for this course: Monday 16th September 9 am and Monday 20th January, 9am.

The “Communication Skills: e-Professionalism, Digital Footprint & Dissemination to Wider Audiences” workshop will help you put into practice some of the science communication ideas from block 2, and will give you a hands-on experience in blogging. it will run on Wednesday 6th November at between 1pm and 3pm.

There will be a workshop in Semester 2 (content TBC), on Wednesday 5th February, 1pm-3pm.

Online Forums:

As the course is delivered almost entirely online, you will be able to ask questions, discuss your assignments and interact with tutors through online forums on Learn. The course materials will also have a number of thinking points and activities that you can post about in the forum to get feedback on your thinking from your peers and tutors. Forum engagement is a strong predictor of good grades in online learning, so we highly encourage you to use this resource well.

Psychology in Action - Introduction
Introduction to the course.
16/09/2019 - 9:00am to 10:55am
Psychology in Action - Semester 2 Introduction
Details about the second semester of the course
20/01/2020 - 9:00am to 10:55am
Learning Outcomes: 


Understand and explain the institutional context in which academic research is done

Be able to critically engage with and write about the replication crisis in social sciences

Understand and critically evaluate the practice and theory of science engagement

Understand the theory and practice behind presenting a specific message to the public

Be able to write for non-expert audiences


Additional Information: 


Assessment Overview - 

100% coursework:

Quiz assessments: 20% (4x5%)

Two short written pieces (2x500 words) – 40%

Popular science article based on the research interview (1000 words) – 40%


Assessment details and deadlines - 


Quiz assessments

Each course section is finished with an online multiple choice quiz assessment, each worth 5% of the final grade. The quizzes will be accessible for five working days for each block, in the final week of the block. Each quiz can only be taken once, and has to be completed by the finish date given below.

Quiz 1 begins 14th October at 10am, finishes 18th October at 4pm.

Quiz 2 begins 25th November at 10am, finishes 29th November at 4pm.

Quiz 3 begins 10th February at 10am, finishes 14th February at 4pm.

Quiz 4 begins 23th March at 10am, finishes 27th March at 4pm.


Short written pieces

There are two short written pieces, each with a 500 word limit and worth 20% of the final grade.

Case study evaluation:

For this assessment, you will choose one of a set of science communication initiatives and write a concise case study evaluation. The piece will summarise the case study, identify the target audience and evaluate the channels and approach used, including identifying possible improvements. Hand in date: Monday 2nd December, 12 midday

Blog post:

For this assessment, you will choose an issue related to the replication crisis in psychology (or broader sciences), and write a brief blog post about it. The post should highlight the specific issue you choose, and include possible fixes where possible. The post can be directed either at non-experts, or at other psychology students who have some familiarity with the issue. The work can include illustrations (not included in word count) or tables (included in the word count). Hand in date: Thursday 13th February, 12 midday


Popular science article

For this assignment, you will use the information you gathered in the research interview to write an article that presents that project or research area to a lay, but interested audience. You will need to write it up in a format that would be suitable for a popular science column in a national news site or paper, such as the BBC, Guardian or Times.

Hand in date: Thursday 16th April, 12 midday

More information about all of the assessments, including detailed criteria and some samples, is available on Learn.


Submission deadlines and extensions - 

The submission deadline must be observed. Failure to comply with the deadline without good reason will incur mark penalties as follows:

  •   Up to 7 calender days, 5 marks per calender day will be deducted
  •   More than 7 calender days late a mark of zero will be given


Where special circumstances are responsible for a loss of study time and for information on extensions, see the link provided.