BSc Education / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Introduction to Psychology of Education

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC14701
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 4
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit is designed to introduce students to key theory and research in the psychology of education, and to critically examine psychological theory and its influence in a range of education contexts. Students will consider a range of key ideas and theories across four different spheres of influence: cognitive, behavioural, emotional and social. They will become familiar with key figures in the field of the psychology of education with indicative content based on figures such as Piaget, Vygotsky, Bruner, Skinner, Bandura and Bronfenbrenner. The unit will encourage students to question these ideas by considering their evidence base, their influence on education, and how trends within educational psychology have developed and changed over time.


The unit aims to:

Introduce key concepts and theories relating to the psychology of education. In this way, it aims to lay the foundations for second and third year units by providing a solid understanding of some of the ways in which people learn.

Illustrate the development of the psychology of education across time and within different schools of thought.

Provide opportunities for students to consider the influence of cognitive, behavioural, emotional and social theories of learning upon classroom practice across the education life-course.

Support students to evaluate these concepts and theories in order to critically assess their evidence base. The unit aims to illustrate that there is no single way in which people learn, and encourage a more critical consideration of a range of influencing factors to produce a holistic view of the learning process.

Encourage students to reflect on their own learning experiences in a critical manner.


Learning outcomes

Students will gain an introductory knowledge of key psychological theories of education and demonstrate an understanding of how and why these ideas have developed, and their influence in a range of education contexts. They will evidence an understanding of the key figures and concepts that have shaped the psychology of education, and demonstrate an ability to evaluate, critique and reflect on their evidence base and the reasons for their influence. 

Students will have the opportunity to work collaboratively, both in person and via online discussion boards, and benefit from peer-to-peer interactions. They will be able to reflect on their own educational experiences through the lens of key theories in the psychology of education. Students will be equipped with both the theoretical knowledge of the psychology of education, and its influence in a range of educational settings and practices. This will be beneficial both in their second and third year studies, and in employment in a variety of educational careers.


Syllabus (indicative curriculum content):

The unit will introduce students to a range of key ideas across the following four spheres of influence:





The introductory session will introduce students to these four spheres and to share ideas around their experiences of learning.

Subsequent sessions will introduce students to key figures and ideas linked to these spheres of influence, including the following indicative content:








Students will be encouraged to consider the way that ideas in the psychology of education have developed and changed across time, and their influence upon educational discourses and classroom practice in a range of contexts. Thus, students will consider examples of how dominant discourses have developed around areas such as mind-set, resilience, self-efficacy and collaborative learning structures.

The four spheres of influence will be revisited throughout the unit in session so that students can discuss differences, overlaps and commonalities between them in the light of their learning on the unit.

Teaching and learning methods

As a core unit, the course unit will be delivered in a sequence of ten two-hour lectures with additional two tutorial/seminar sessions reviewing the learning and preparing students for the assessment activities. Each lecture will be structured around the delivery of information but with interactive elements throughout, such as discussion and contributions via online platforms. There will also be some scenarios and case-studies for students to work with both in session and asynchronously. Blended learning approaches will be used to offer pre- and post-session stimulus material online for asynchronous group online discussion and private learning. This will be facilitated and evidenced through the use of student reflective logs, posts and interactions through the VLE Discussion Board.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Summarise and describe key theories in psychology as pertaining to education.
  • Critically review literature on different theories in psychology of education, their underpinning research and their limitations in order to provide a balanaced argument.
  • Describe the influence of key theories in the psychology of education on classroom practice.

Intellectual skills

  • Critically apply key ideas associated with the psychology of education in reflecting on their own educational experiences.
  • Reflect on how individual theories of psychology of education have developed over time, and in a variety of educational contexts.

Practical skills

  • Evidence the ability to work collaboratively to design and plan a sequence of digital material for a non-specialist audience.
  • Produce digital content that communicates the influence of psychology of education on educational experiences to a non-specialist audience.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Undertake self-directed independent study and research
  • Communicate information about theories of psychology in education to non-specialist audiences such as practitioners (education policy makers and teachers).
  • Demonstrate academic skills such as structuring an argument and managing references.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 30%
Written assignment (inc essay) 70%

Summative assessment 1:

Group podcast (max 4 members per group) discussing and reflecting on own experiences of education through the lens of psychology of education and for a general target audience of non-specialists (educational policy makers, teachers, etc.)

Summative assessment 2:

Individual essay: students select one of the four spheres of influence and explain its development, key figure(s) and idea(s) within this sphere, its evidence base, its limitations and

its influence on education. Essay is aimed at education specialists eg teaching staff.

Feedback methods

Summative assessment 1 and 2: Via written feedback on the VLE within 15 working days of submission.


Recommended reading

  • Adey, P., & Dillon, J. (2012). Bad Education: Debunking Myths in Education. Open University Press. 
  • Aggarwal, J. C. (2010). Essentials of educational psychology. Vikas Publishing House.
  •  Aubrey, K. and Riley, A. (2022) Understanding and Using Educational Theories. London: SAGE
  • Bijou, S. W. (1970). What psychology has to offer education—now. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 3(1), 65
  • Keenan, T., Evans, S. and Crowley, K. (2016) An Introduction to Child Development. London: SAGE
  • Long, M., Wood, C., Littleton, K., Passenger, T. and Sheehy, K. (eds.) (2010) The Psychology of Education. London: Routledge
  • Lord, J. (ed.) (2022) Psychology of Education: Theory, Research and Evidence-Based Practice. London: SAGE
  • Siochrú, C. Ó. (ed.) (2018). Psychology and the study of education: Critical perspectives on developing theories. London: Routledge

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 30
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Elizabeth Gregory Unit coordinator

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