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The University of Southampton

PSYC1015 Classic Studies in Psychology: History and Implications

Module Overview

There are many thousands of psychological studies published each year, and this has been so since the late 19th century. Each published study will have its strengths and weaknesses, however, some studies acquire an importance that others do not. The reasons for the elevated status of some studies may lie in their relevance to key social issues or to the resolution of important psychological debates. The module provides a selective overview of critical studies in Psychology. The topics are taken from the broad sweep of sub-disciplines within psychology. It is available as an option for Year 1 students on other degree programmes and to Erasmus students, subject to timetabling and any other conditions. The aim of the module is to demonstrate the enduring importance of classic studies, placing them in their appropriate historical context and to demonstrate their continuing influence of the discipline.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of psychological studies
  • Demonstrate depth of knowledge and understanding by interpreting complex concepts and implications of psychological studies
  • Demonstrate critical understanding of psychological studies by evaluating research and describing its importance in a wider context.
  • Demonstrate concise, scientific writing


Each lecture will deal with a classic psychological study. The historical antecedents of the study will be articulated as will be the impact and enduring legacy of study. In doing so, the historical basis for much of modern-day psychology will be revealed allowing the current discipline to be placed in its appropriate historical context. The choice of classic studies will be left to the professorial teaching team, and so is designed to allow a personal reflective element on the value of each classic study to their own intellectual development.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Weekly lecture plus handouts. The use of video and other materials as appropriate. Each lecture will be delivered by a different person who will determine the appropriate teaching and learning style appropriate for the material being delivered. The required reading and abstract for each of the nine classic study lectures is provided in the module handbook. Links to PDF copies of the required readings will be available on Blackboard along with lecture handouts.

Independent Study128
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Berenbaum, S. A., & Hines, M. (1992). Early androgens are related to childhood sex-typed toy preferences. Psychological Science,. ,3 , pp. 203-206.

Eleanor A. Maguire*†, David G. Gadian‡, Ingrid S. Johnsrude†, Catriona D. Good†, John Ashburner†, Richard S. J. Frackowiak†, and Christopher D. Frith (2000). Navigation-related structural change in the hippocampi of taxi drivers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. ,97 .

Darley, J. M., & Latane, B. (1968). Bystander intervention in emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. ,8 , pp. 377-383.

Argyle, M., & Dean, J. (1965). Eye-contact, distance and affiliation. Sociometry. ,28 , pp. 289-304.

Young, A. W., Hay, D. C., & Ellis, A. W. (1985). The faces that launched a thousand slips: Everyday difficulties and errors in recognizing people.. British Journal of Psychology. ,76 , pp. 495-523..

Pomerantz, J. R., Sager, L. C., & Stoever, R. J. (1977). Perception of wholes and of their component parts: some configural superiority effects. ournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. ,3 , pp. 422.


Assessment Strategy

The course will be assessed by examination (50%) and a poster assignment that evaluates a classic study of your own choice (50%). The examination comprises a multiple-choice component (30% of module mark) and a short essay (20% of module mark) that are both designed to assess your knowledge of the classic studies discussed in the lectures. Additionally the short essay will test your ability to synthesise and present information clearly and concisely through. The poster assignment will test your ability to present the important content of a classic study in a concise, academic poster format. You will receive formative feedback on your assignments that will help you to develop transferable skills useful throughout in your degree and beyond.




MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 50%
Poster 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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