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Investigating psychology 3

This module builds on Investigating psychology 2 and takes a critical and creative approach to methodology in psychology, with a substantive empirical project. Experimentation, survey methodology and text-based qualitative analyses (discourse analysis and phenomenological analysis) are explored through the topics of memory, language, creativity, personality, child development, emotions, and relationships. These topics are also used to present research in the core domains of biological, cognitive, developmental individual differences and social psychology. In addition, quantitative and qualitative methods are taught. Students can express a preference for the method to be used in their independent project: text-based analysis, experimentation, or survey.

What you will study

Investigating psychology 3 gives you the opportunity to carry out an independent research project with specialist supervision. To facilitate this students are strongly encouraged to engage with an online activity that outlines the broad options available for the independent project. This takes place before the module begins and is designed to help you decide on your preferences. At the start of the module you will have the opportunity to record these preferences and we will use them in allocating you to an appropriate tutor.

During the first half of the module the interactive online study guide leads you, week by week, through an exploration of the key methods used in psychological research, investigating how the diversity of methods originated, and the way that psychology relates to both social and natural sciences.

In Block 1, you will go on to examine how experimentation, survey and text-based methods are used and consider the kind of psychological knowledge that each method generates. The use of experimentation in memory research and how it relates to biological methods, such as brain imaging, will also be reviewed.

You’ll explore the theoretical and practical difficulties in applied research, particularly in eye-witness testimony. Then you will look at how experimentation has also been used to tease out the relationship between the way that we think and the language that we speak.

Our discussion then turns to the use of surveys and explores how attitudes and beliefs about the way children learn and develop relate to our practices in child rearing and education. We review the use of surveys as a method in personality research and in assessing creativity.

Experiments and surveys produce data that can be analysed using statistics and this module builds on the statistical techniques introduced in Investigating psychology 1 and 2. The methods also lend themselves to the use of software and you will be introduced to professional grade packages that allow you to produce experimental procedures and questionnaires as well as to collect data in a straightforward and accurate manner.

Block 2 considers text-based, qualitative research in psychology. You will begin with phenomenological analysis, the way we explore our experiences of the world and ourselves. The topics covered include jealousy, close relationships and our experience of emotion.

You’ll then turn to discourse analysis which explores how we use language to create our world. We explore how this method helps us to understand the social construction of health-related issues such as ADHD and also how we talk about our life story. This returns us to memory research but using a different methodology. Throughout this first part of the module you will be encouraged to think critically about the methods of data collection and analysis and how they are used.

The second part of the module is your opportunity to carry out your own psychological investigation. Under the close supervision of your tutor you will design and build a study, considering procedural and ethical issues. You will then collect your data, carry out the appropriate analyses and report your findings as a poster and research report. You’ll also participate in your fellow students’ projects which will deepen your appreciation of how psychological data are generated.

Throughout this process you will be very well supported, but we stress that this is your project and you will be expected to take responsibility for it. In our experience many students find the independent project is the most satisfying part of the whole psychology degree.

Professional recognition

This is one of the core modules in our British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited degrees in psychology.

Entry requirements

This module is not available for standalone study; it can only be studied as part of a qualification. Normally, you should have successfully completed Investigating psychology 2 (DE200) before you study this module.

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

What's included

Two text books and statistical analysis software (SPSS). Qualtrics, Open Sesame and NVivo will also be made available through the website.

Online interactive Study Guide including audio-visual materials, activities and links for further study.

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 from a hardware device e.g. DVD drive or USB stick 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 desktop or laptop computer with Windows 7 or higher.

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

To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

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. 

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will be assigned a tutor who will give you advice and guidance throughout the module, but primarily on your project. Specialist teaching forums and day schools will provide tuition and support on the core areas of psychology. The tutors staffing these forums and day schools will help you with the study materials, as well as marking and commenting on your written assignments.

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


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

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying DE300 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Investigating psychology 3 starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2025.

Course work includes:

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

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.