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Living psychology: from the everyday to the extraordinary

This module draws on classic and contemporary theory and research in psychology and applies them to a broad range of contexts. You'll learn how psychologists have studied both practical and theoretical issues, such as nationalism or sexuality, with a particular emphasis on understanding and solving problems that directly affect people’s lives. You'll explore core academic areas of psychology as set out by the British Psychological Society (e.g. social, cognitive, developmental) and applied aspects of professional practice (e.g. clinical, forensic, counselling). You'll also develop your understanding of psychological research methods, along with other useful academic and employability skills.

Please note that the real-world contexts explored in this module may involve issues that are sensitive to you personally at time of studying. We recommend that you look through the topics covered before registering for this module.

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OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
To enable you to make international comparisons, the information provided shows how OU levels correspond to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ).
2 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

Student Reviews

Thoroughly interesting and enjoyable range of topics in this module that you could relate to from a real world perspective....
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About half way through my degree and this is easily my most fascinating and exciting module to date. I tend...
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What you will study

This module approaches psychology as a fundamentally applied discipline, firmly grounded in the real world.

Each study week takes a specific real-world topic and leads you through some of the ways that psychologists have explored it, outlining key theories, findings, practical issues, and research methods. Some of the real-world contexts explored in this module may involve issues that are sensitive to you personally. The issues to be covered will be outlined before the topic is presented, together with suggested ways in which you might engage with it if it is personally relevant to you.

The module is structured into five blocks, with four topics in each.

Block 1 explores the theme of ‘understanding minds’. In this block you'll learn how people are able to understand each other’s thoughts and feelings, whether this ability is shared by other animals, what happens when people have difficulty understanding each other, and whether it might be possible to build an artificial ‘mind’ that would think and feel like a human mind.

Block 2 moves on from the individual focus of the first block to consider how people relate to others as social beings. In this block you'll learn about the importance of self-esteem and the effect that other people can have on it, how problems can arise and be resolved in intimate relationships, how social interactions can affect creativity, and how issues of nationality and migration can affect people’s identities, both as groups and individuals.

Block 3 shifts the focus from the social world to people’s interactions with the physical world. In this block you'll learn about how psychologists have defined the ‘self’, including the role of the physical body on the sense of self. You'll also learn about the effect that the surrounding environment, both ‘natural’ and human-made, can have on people’s physical and mental health, and how psychology can help to address environmental issues such as climate change.

Block 4 considers how people make sense of the world around them. You'll learn how people develop an understanding of the information provided by their physical senses, and how that understanding can be both highly efficient and often wrong. You'll also learn why many people believe in things that seem extraordinary, such as astrological predictions, psychic readings and conspiracy theories.

Block 5 focuses on four important, and contemporary, issues that psychologists have explored and the problems that they have tried to help solve. You'll learn about the psychology of extreme circumstances such as living through traumatic events; you'll explore historical and current psychological theories on human sex and sexuality; you’ll find out about the growing area of internet psychology, including problems such as trolling and cyber-bullying; and you’ll take an evaluative approach to the ‘self-help’ industry.

Throughout the module, you'll learn about a wide variety of research methods that have been used by psychologists to explore these issues. The methods covered include surveys, interviews, experiments, clinical assessments, and case studies.

The module is built around a two-volume textbook Living Psychology: From the Everyday to the Extraordinary and an extensive module website built around an online study guide. The website contains further teaching to support the chapters in the textbook, as well as additional topics taught entirely online. The teaching on the website includes video and audio interviews with key psychologists featured in the material, behind the scenes insights into the research process, and a variety of interactive activities to help develop and consolidate your knowledge. You'll also spend some of your study time using online resources from The Open University library.

You will learn

You will learn about:

  • academic and applied areas of psychology, including aspects of cognitive, developmental, social, clinical, counselling and forensic psychology
  • the interaction between real-world issues and psychological theories and research.

You will develop skills in:

  • accessing, interpreting and critically evaluating information from a variety of sources
  • presenting information and arguments in response to academic and applied questions.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You'll have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We aim to provide online tutorials. Although not compulsory, attendance at tutorials will help you consolidate your learning and you are strongly encouraged to participate.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Future availability

Living psychology: from the everyday to the extraordinary starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2021. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2024.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Course work includes:

    5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
    End-of-module assessment
    No residential school

    Entry requirements

    This is an OU level 2 module and you need to have the study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning, obtained either through OU level 1 study, or by doing equivalent work at another university. You are not expected to have any special knowledge of psychology.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


    Start End Fee Register
    02 Oct 2021 Jun 2022 Not yet available

    Registration opens on 18/03/21

    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2024.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

    If your income is not more than £25,000 or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2021. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 25/02/2021.

    What's included

    You’ll be supplied with module textbooks and have access to a module website, which includes:

    • a week-by-week study planner
    • module materials
    • audio and video content
    • assessment guide
    • online tutorial and forums access.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying DD210 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Disability support website.