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Year 2

In the second year, students take four papers. This year provides a foundation for the research-led teaching of the final year while also allowing students to begin to specialise in those areas that interest them.

All students take the following paper:

PBS 3: Social and Developmental Psychology

This paper aims to provide representative coverage of classic and contemporary theory and research in social and developmental psychology. In the first term, students will learn key meta-theories in social psychology in a series of introductory lectures, and then will examine specific core topics of the field in subsequent lectures, including social cognition, sociocultural approaches, the self, well-being, and prosociality. In the second term, students will study the key processes involved in the developmental transformation of social, emotional, and cognitive 
behaviour across the life span.

Students choose between one of two groups of papers. Either PBS 4 with two optional papers, or PBS 5PBS 6 and one optional paper:

PBS 4: Biological and Cognitive Psychology

Every process in the mind is the result of underlying biology. This paper covers a selection of biological and cognitive topics involving the connection of brain, body, and behaviour. Specific content includes neurophysiology and structure of the brain, learning, memory, judgment and decision making, consciousness, and atypical psychology. Lectures include relevant methodologies and methodological issues. Students are expected to read in depth, as well as broadly, and to bring their independent perspective and insight to the material at hand.

PBS 5: Experimental Psychology

This paper aims to give a broad understanding of different approaches to the study of mind and behaviour, and the forms of evidence and levels of explanation provided by modern experimental psychology. It includes work on sensory processes and perception (especially vision and hearing), attention and the control of action, language and cognitive processes, learning and memory, cognitive and social development, intelligence, reasoning and problem solving, cognitive neuropsychology and psychopathology. Lectures on this course are supplemented by practical laboratory classes, for which students are required to submit written reports as part of their assessment.

PBS 6: Research Methods

Research labs within the Department of Psychology each present a lecture on a particular research method used in their group, explaining the advantages of the method and examples of it being used in published papers. Students are assessed by a 2,000 word essay, critiquing one of the papers presented in the lecture series, having been taught how to critique papers at the beginning of the year.


Optional Papers


The list of optional papers may vary from year to year but will typically include papers in:

  • Biological anthropology
  • History and philosophy of science
  • Education
  • Social anthropology
  • Neurobiology
  • Sociology
  • Philosophy

With the exception of PBS 6, students sit a written exam in each paper at the end of the year.