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The University of Southampton

PSYC3059 Psychology of Advertising

Module Overview

Advertising is an everyday and significant phenomenon. Sponsors hire agencies to inform us about, and persuade us to buy, innumerable branded products and services on the market, though a variety of mass media. Advertisements also urge us to donate to charity, vote for candidates, or adopt particular lifestyles. Advertising may be blatant or subtle, inoffensive or controversial, conventional or ground-breaking. It may succeed, fail, or backfire. It is partly an intuitive art and partly an empirical science. The course will mainly address advertising from the perspective of the psychology of attitude change, endeavouring to understand it better through the lens of several classic and contemporary theories that are informed by empirical evidence. Student will be taught how to produce a print advertisement in accordance with the principles recommended by famous and contemporary advertisers.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The general aims of this course are (1) to acquaint students with key facts about, and give them deeper insight into the nature of, advertising. (2) to have them understand why advertising succeeds or fails, from a theoretical and empirical point of view. (3) to give them concrete experience applying their abstract knowledge.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • learning about the advertising world in general.
  • learning about many key principles that make advertising persuasive
  • learning about the psychological processes that underlie different stages of persuasion
  • learning how to imagine, design, and create print advertisements in response to real brief
  • Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of social psychological theories of persuasion in domain of advertising, as well as of several key principles that underlie the construction of effective print advertisements.
  • Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to critically understand the scope and limitations of interventions designed to change minds or alter behavior, and the scope and limitations of methodologies and research designs used to arrive at scientific and applied conclusions.
  • Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to deploy the practical skills you have learned to create print advertisements meant for application in the real world for a variety of purposes.
  • Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to judiciously weigh the empirical and logistical merits of different proposed interventions to persuade consumers or the public to adopt particular attitudes or perform particular behaviors.


Basic Topics (1) Setting the stage for advertising (2) How consumers acquire and processing information from advertising (3) How advertising affects consumer memory (4) How consumers form attitudes towards products (5) How consumers yield to advertising: principles of persuasion and attitude change (6) How advertising influences buying behavior (7) Beyond persuasion: Achieving consumer compliance without changing attitudes These topics map on to the first seven corresponding chapters in the textbook The Psychology of Advertising by Fennis and Stroebe (2nd Edition). Seven lectures (14 hourly sessions) will be based on these chapters (plus two. The midterm and final exam—both of which are multiple-choice quizzes—will be based exclusively on material from the book. Specialist Topics Two additional topics will be covered. These will specialized, and content will vary based on student interest and instructor preference. These topics will be covered in the later weeks of the course. They are not currently assessed, but will be in future years. Practical Topics and Activities Students will be given instruction on how to construct effective print advertisements, relying on the pointers provided by the celebrated advertiser and copywriter David Ogilvy, and by contemporary art director and copywriter Pete Barry. They will then take this knowledge—alongside that provided by the textbook—and apply it to developing print advertisements. These will be done behalf of one or more businesses or causes in the local community with whom the course instructor has liaised, and will be informed by real briefs solicited from senior managers in those businesses. Course Content by Week: Basic theory: Week 1: Course Outline & Topic (1) Week 2: Topic (2) & Topic (3) Application: Week 3: Print advertisements: Classic and contemporary guidelines from Ogilvy and Barry Week 4: (no session) Practical preparation of print advertisements Week 5: (consultation sessions) One-to-one feedback on print advertising Basic theory: Week 6: Topic (4) & Midterm Revision Week 7: (no class) Midterm Week 8: Topic (5) & Topic (6) Week 9: Topic (7) & Recap Advanced topics: Week 10: Specialist topic 1 Week 11: Specialist topic 2 Week 12: Exam Revision

Special Features

The fact that the practical component proceeds from a real brief solicited from a local Southampton business, and the advertisements student created may actually be used by that business, makes it special. It bring the assignment to life, and gives students a taste of the real-world. It also enhances relations between the University and the community.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Basic Instruction Most weeks, the course instructor will lecture over the course of a double session. This will include weeks 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. The exceptions will be Weeks 4, 5, 7. In Week 4, students will be given a week to work on the coursework component—the print advertisement—listening to and reading through the materials provided, and preparing the relevant PowerPoint slides. It will be a “creation” week. (See information on Week 5—a “feedback” week—below.) In Week 7, students will complete the midterm. Feedback and Formative Assessment For those weeks where material from the textbook is covered (Weeks 1, 2, 6, 8 and 9), students will be directed to complete (having done the reading for the week, and prior to the next class) a practice multiple-choice quiz or quizzes on the corresponding textbook chapter or chapters for that week (each 15-20 items in length). Students will be given feedback on right and wrong answers, as well referred to the page of the book where the correct answer can be found. (Depending on Blackboard functionality, they may also be given additional feedback on wrong answers). These practice quizzes were expressly designed to be parallel the midterm exam quizzes in form, style, and difficulty, being originally drawn from the same item set. Hence, not only will they serve to ensure that students review and test their knowledge regularly as the course proceeds, but also to familiarize themselves and set their expectations properly for the forthcoming midterm and examination. The instructor will monitor quiz completion, and issue reminders to students to complete it, to ensure that less diligent students gain from the benefits of this formative assessment too. In addition, Week 5 (following Week 4) students will continue to work on the coursework component. In lieu of class, however, each student (in a class of 123 in Year 2016/2017) will be afforded to opportunity of 15 minutes of face-to-face individual feedback with the Teaching Assistant for the course. This will be in addition to any feedback delivered individually by email, or collectively via the Facebook group, either by the instructor or the Teaching Assistant, over the entire duration of the course.

Independent Study134
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Ogilvy, D. (1983). Ogilvy on advertising. 

Additional Summary Notes. Available on Blackboard

Barry, P. (2016). The advertising concept book. 

Lecture Notes. Available on Blackboard

Fennis, B. & Stroebe, W. (2016). The psychology of advertising. 

Recording of lectures. Available on Blackboard


Assessment Strategy

Summative Assessment The unit is assessed in three primary ways. It will be assessed by two multiple-choice quizzes, which will uniquely cover textbook material. The midterm quiz will contain 50 items, and the examination quiz will contain 110 items. Thus, the quizzes will be long enough to provide both reliable and comprehensive assessment of textbook material. Analysis of quiz results from Year 2016/2017, incorporating the same items (in one longer final exam, now decomposed into a midterm and final exam, to lessen stress) confirmed its psychometric soundness. In addition, several quiz items are designed to test, not only knowledge, but all critical understanding. The midterm quiz will last one hour, and will uniquely cover material from Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the textbook. The exam quiz will last two hours and will cover material from Chapter 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 of the textbook. Thus, the exam quiz is summative, and may be used to reasonably assess students who miss the midterm. The midterm quiz will count towards 22% of the final mark, and the exam quiz towards 44% of the final mark (together, 66%). The third assessment will pertain to the practical component of the course. On the basis of the print advertisements that students submit, as well as an accompanying 1000-word justification document in which students will provide a rationale for the decisions they made in creating the print advertisement, students will be awarded up to 33% of the course. Assessment criteria will be based on principles taught, and the checklist to inform marking of the assignment will be circulated to students afterwards. (Recognizing that the quality of advertisements is reflected in their real-world appear, the instructor may moderate the marks he gives, but only ever upwards, if the print advertisements that students create are highly rated either by the client providing the brief, or by crowdsourced ratings on the internet. These possibilities will be explored, if feasible, in the Year 2016-2017. The marked-up aggregate mark would see the external rating weighted at half the grade awarded by the course instructor.) The remaining 1% of the mark will be made up by research participation.


MethodPercentage contribution
Multiple choice Test  (1 hours) 22%
Multiple choice Test  (2 hours) 44%
Poster 33%
Research Participation 1%


MethodPercentage contribution
Multiple choice Test  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Several copies of the textbook and two supplementary texts will be made available in the library, in hardcopy or electronic form, and that are free to use. (Students are free to buy their own personal versions). All other materials are also freely available online.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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