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PS30165: The psychology of morality

Follow this link for further information on academic years Academic Year: 2018/9
Further information on owning departmentsOwning Department/School: Department of Psychology
Further information on credits Credits: 6      [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Further information on notional study hours Notional Study Hours: 120
Further information on unit levels Level: Honours (FHEQ level 6)
Further information on teaching periods Period:
Semester 2
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Summary: CW 80%, OR 20%
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Detail:
  • Oral Presentation (OR 20%)
  • Essay (CW 80%)
Further information on supplementary assessment Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Further information on requisites Requisites: Before taking this module you must take PS10105 AND ( take 2 MODULES FROM {PS20104, PS20109} OR take PS20168 )
Further information on descriptions Description: Aims:
The intention of this unit is:
* To introduce the students to the centrality of morality in almost all aspects of social life
* To introduce the students to a diverse, interdisciplinary, range of accounts of the nature and role of morality - spanning social, cognitive, developmental, philosophical, legal and biological perspectives.
* To interrogate the implications of a moral analysis for rational-economic models of human action
* To help the students explore the role of morality in processes of change at the personal, interpersonal, societal and global level in a range of domains such as health, the environment, public spending and taxation, military intervention and gender/racial equality.

Learning Outcomes:
In completing this unit students would be expected to:
* Critically evaluate the various theoretical accounts of morality both within and beyond psychology
* Critically examine the different levels of analysis at which the role of morality can be conceptualised
* Assess and evaluate the empirical evidence for the utility of a moral account of human behaviour
* Compare and contrast moral accounts of human behaviour with those of the rational (utility-maximising) actor
* Critically examine the ways in which morality is constructed through various kinds of interpersonal, political and media discourse
* Assess and evaluate the role of morality in processes of individual and social change


* Comprehensive and scholarly written communication (e.g. essays)
* Concise, time-bound and effective oral communication (e.g. oral presentations, group discussions)
* Ability to select, summarise and synthesis written information from multiple sources
* Ability to develop rigorous arguments through precise use of concepts and models
* Ability to apply theory into practice
* Ability to select and use appropriate ideas to produce a coherent response to a pre-set question
* Ability to produce work to agreed specifications and deadlines
* Ability to work independently, without close supervision of guidance
* Ability to synthesize literature and ideas both within and beyond the discipline of psychology

The unit will explore a series of key questions, including:
* What is morality and how can we study it?
* What are the social, cognitive, developmental, philosophical, legal and biological perspectives on morality?
* How can we be moral if we are supposedly inherently selfish?
* How do we decide what is right and wrong (i.e. morally reason)?
* In what ways is morality potentially crucial to public/political life? What role does the media potentially play?
* Can shifts in morality drive individuals and collectives to fundamentally change how they think, talk and act? What might produce such shifts?
* How might an understanding of moral psychology help us to approach a range of important real-world problems such as public health, climate change, shortages of public money (leading to cuts to public services), global terrorism and gender/racial inequality?
Before taking this module you are advised to take PS10105 AND take PS20104 AND take PS20109
Further information on programme availabilityProgramme availability:

PS30165 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Psychology