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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PSYC3545 Work Psychology: Applying Theory to Practice in the Workplace

15 creditsClass Size: 70

Module manager: Dr Jonathan Benn

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Pre-requisite qualifications

Successful completion of all pass for progression modules in Level 2 of: BSc Psychology or MPsyc, BSc Advanced Psychology or BSc Psychology with Education (and its International and Industrial variants)

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module provides an introduction to the applied field of Work Psychology (sometimes referred to as Occupational, Organisational or Industrial psychology). The module is structured around a number of fundamental workplace issues that commonly require psychological expertise, including: selection, training, work design, leadership, team working, organisational change and safety. The syllabus links to the themes within the BPS framework for occupational psychology. For each topic, theoretical and research perspectives will be explored, along with practical approaches and methods used by work psychologists operating in applied settings. The teaching philosophy within the module will include a substantial Problem-Based Learning (PBL) component. Students will have the opportunity to apply core module content to practical problems through group work tasks, self-directed research and group problem-solving. The module is assessed by coursework comprising a written “Project Plan” in response to a consultancy brief and a group presentation based on the PBL work.


The primary objective of this module is to introduce students to core topics in the applied field of work and organisational psychology and to familiarise students with the ways in which psychological research and theory have been applied within an occupational setting. Through participation in the module, students will gain an understanding of professional roles and career paths in occupational/organisational psychology, along with an understanding of how psychologists can make contributions in parallel disciplines such as human factors engineering, human resource management, organisational development and safety. The teaching philosophy within the module will be problem-based, modelling professional multidisciplinary project teams in which work psychologists often fulfil a research or consultancy role. Multiple teaching methods will be employed, including collaborative group work and problem-based learning, in addition to faculty-led didactic teaching.

Learning outcomes
By the end of this module, students should be able to:

1: Introduce the field of work psychology and explore the conceptual, methodological, historic and professional perspectives that define this area of psychology
2: Understand common selection processes and the practice of psychometric testing in an occupational setting
3: Apply psychological research, theory and methods to the design of workplace training programmes and their evaluation
4: Understand how the design of work and work technologies can be optimised using human factors frameworks and methods
5: Compare and contrast theories of both leadership and motivation at work
6: Discuss the rationale for team-based operations in the workplace and the contribution of work group psychology to understanding team processes and performance
7: Understand different models of organisational change and the challenge of studying change processes
8: Critically evaluate the human and organisational contributions to safety and failures in complex work systems
9: Apply evidence-based theory and practice in work psychology to real problem scenarios
10: Engage in effective group work to achieve shared goals, including peer-to-peer teaching and feedback

Skills outcomes
Selection and assessment methods
Training design and evaluation
Human factors methods and human-centred design
Quality improvement
Autonomous groupwork and problem-solving skills
Writing an effective, evidence-based, project proposal in response to a brief.


Module sessions:

1. Defining Work Psychology: Theoretical and professional perspectives
2. Selection and selection methods: Fitting the person to the work
3. Training and development: Supporting vocational learning
4. Human factors in work design: Fitting the work to the person
5. Leadership and motivation in the workplace
6. Work group psychology: Supporting the performance of teams (PBL orientation and setup)
7. Organisational culture and change: Planned change, emergent change and continuous improvement
8. Problem-Based Learning 1: Group work
9. Problem-Based Learning 2: Group work
10. Human error and systems failure

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours131.00
Total Contact hours19.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Students private study and independent learning will comprise:
1: Reading the core and recommended course material, including further reading to consolidate knowledge (64 hours)
2: Self-directed research to support module assessment tasks, including research to support module essay and in preparing presentations for the PBL assessed feedback session (59 hours)
3: Meeting and/or communicating with PBL colleagues to plan and organise group work and coordinate outputs (8 hours)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored throughout by participation in lectures, sessions and groupwork and through feedback from faculty staff. Students are expected to contribute to interactive group work components and support their colleagues in the three Problem Based Learning sessions, including providing peer feedback. Module tutors facilitate the scheduled PBL sessions and provide formative feedback to groups on their developing presentation plans. Student comments and queries during sessions and communicated to module lead will be monitored and addressed both in live sessions and in release of online information.

In addition to interactive groupwork throughout the module, opportunities for formative feedback include the two assessments (1 x 2000 word coursework essay and PBL presentation session).

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay or DissertationProject Plan in response to Consultancy Brief (2,000 words)70.00
Group ProjectProblem Based Learning Task30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

PBL component will require student groups to deliver a 15 minute online presentation (if social distancing measures prevent face-to-face delivery). Resit assessment for the PBL component will take the form of an alternative individual PBL case and shorter presentation (up to 7 mins – option for online delivery as above).

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/06/2021 15:21:45


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