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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2022/2023

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Education

EDUC46830: The Psychology of the Learner

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2021/22
Tied to X9K907 Education [UK]


  • EDUC40330 Psychological Perspectives on Learning or an equivalent psychology module.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To develop specialist understanding of psychological processes involved in learning and an awareness of current issues in the field.


  • This is a specialist module that builds on the level 4 module Psychological Perspectives on Learning.
  • The module enables students to deepen and expand their psychological understanding of learning and to critically consider translations into educational praxis, both existent and potential. Learning is understood as a dynamic, within-person process that is reflected in changes in a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours. The module will examine learning from the perspectives of the person, the learning context, and the task. Both cognitive and non-cognitive constructs will be considered as antecedents, moderators and/or consequences of learning. Methods for assessing such constructs will be introduced and their theoretical basis will be critically evaluated. This will include a consideration of measuring person-level change over time. Implications for instructional design will also be discussed, together with their theoretical basis and underpinning empirical evidence. The module presents students with opportunities to explore specialized issues, current trends and debates in the field, such as the potential malleability of personality and intellectual abilities.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students will have acquired fundamental knowledge and solid understanding of:
  • individual differences in the antecedents, moderators and consequences of learning and intra-individual changes therein;
  • the differences between conceptualizing learning as change within individuals versus change observed in a population; • how psychological constructs can be measured;
  • debates and trends in the psychology of learning and how they can inform educational practice.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module, students will be able to:
  • recognise how psychological research can address practical issues related to learning;
  • critically analyse and evaluate findings of psychological research relating to learning;
  • reflect on how an understanding of psychological processes related to learning can inform professional educational practice.
Key Skills:
  • Through their active participation in class and their performance in the assignment students will demonstrate the ability to:
  • undertake a search and systematic review of research literature,
  • summarize, synthesize and critique research-based literatures;
  • analyse and interpret data;
  • communicate ideas effectively, both orally and in writing, to an advanced level;
  • learn independently.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Through lectures and seminar teaching supported by resources on Blackboard Learn Ultra. This directed independent work is an important part of the module. Lectures enable the ideas of the module to be considered. Seminar work enables students to develop their understanding of the ideas and consider them in a range of professionally relevant contexts. Activities in seminars include a variety of active learning approaches, including discussion, group work, presentations, question and answer sessions, and individual tasks. Preparation for the assignment involves students in wide reading and critical reflection on ideas of the module.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 8 Weekly 1 hour 8
Seminars 8 Weekly 2 hours 16
Preparation & Reading 276
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Report 4000 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Verbal feedback is given to students' contribution during class teaching sessions. Staff can be contacted for individual help. Written formative feedback is provided for the academic outline of the assignment.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University