PS458      Half Unit
Creativity and Innovation

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Alex Gillespie STC.308


This course is available on the MSc in Health, Community and Development, MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology, MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology and MSc in Social and Public Communication. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Also available as an outside option where regulations permit.


An undergraduate degree in a social science related discipline or equivalent.

Course content

This course examines creativity and innovation from a social psychological standpoint. The first part of the course will examine creativity, focusing on the social conditions which lead to new ideas and technologies. The second part of the course will examine the way in which new ideas and technologies are instituted and resisted. Guiding questions will be: How do new ideas and technologies come about? How do we know if something new is creative, productive or useful? What social contexts are conducive to creativity and innovation? Can the resistance to innovation lead to innovation? What is the human imagination? Why do humans enjoy play, games and fiction? What leads to insightful problem solving? At a deeper level the course will also question the extent to which researchers should be describing the world as it is, or imagining the world as it could be. The overarching focus is on the relation between social interaction and the emergence of productive novelty. The course will examine the social conditions (i.e., face-to-face or online, one-to-one or group, autocratic or democratic, specialisation or integration, etc.) conductive to creativity and innovation, including the social conditions for socialization creative individuals and the social and institutional factors which enable productive novelty to be recognised and instituted. Specific topics will include: theories of creativity, the imagination, insight and problem solving, creative leadership, the creation of value, cultural evolution, the resistance to innovation, utopias and social science as future-making.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 piece of coursework in the LT.

Indicative reading

Collins, R. (1988). The sociology of philosophies: A global theory of intellectual change. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Duncker, K. (1945). On problem-solving. Psychological Monographs, 58(5), 1-113.

Isaksen, S. G., Dorval, K. B., & Treffinger, D. J. (2010). Creative approaches to problem solving: A framework for innovation and change (Third edition). London: Sage Publications, Inc.

Jewkes, J., Sawers, D., & Stillerman, R. (1969). The sources of invention. Macmillan London.

Lillard, A. (2001). Pretend play as twin earth: A social-cognitive analysis. Developmental Review, 21(4), 495-531.

Montuori, A. (2003). The complexity of improvisation and the improvisation of complexity: Social science, art and creativity. Human Relations, 56(2), 237-255.

Puccio, G. J., Mance, M., & Murdock, M. C. (2010). Creative leadership: Skills that drive change. London: Sage.

Tadmor, C. T., Satterstrom, P., Jang, S., & Polzer, J. T. (2012). Beyond individual creativity: The superadditive benefits of multicultural experience for collective creativity in culturally diverse teams. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. doi: 10.1177/0022022111435259

Winnicott, D. W. (1971). Playing and reality. London: Burns & Oates.

Wright, E. O. (2010). Envisioning real utopias. London: Verso.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Social Psychology

Total students 2012/13: 43

Average class size 2012/13: 14

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills