Contemporary Social and Cultural Psychology

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Sandra Jovchelovitch QU.3.25


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Social and Cultural Psychology. This course is available on the MPhil/PhD in Social Psychology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Availability as an outside option is also dependent on numbers.

Course content

Selected topics in cultural and modern social psychology.  The interface mind, society and culture, with a core focus on: 1) the relationship individual-society and 2) culture as a universal and as a particular context for human cognition, emotion and behaviour. In addition: cultural transmission; ontogenesis and sociogenesis; intersubjectivity, perspectivity; thought and lanaguage; action and joint intentionality; mediation and artefacts; culture and the cross-cultural; global identities; intergroup relations; self and community; theory and research relevant to different fields of application including communication, education, racism and multiculturalism, health community development, social exclusion and disadvantage, mass media, amongst others.  Topics are explored at different levels of analysis of social and cultural psychology: ontogenetic (individual self); sociogenetic (social interaction, inter-group relations); phylogenetic (evolutionary history of homo sapiens). Central to the syllabus is to sensitise and train students' to understand and manage cultural and societal variation in cognition, emotion and behaviour. Please note that fields of application and applied content may vary depending on faculty research.



20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the MT.

Students' taking PS400 will also be required to attend PS443A lectures, 10 x 120 mins (MT), and 9 x 60 mins discussion groups.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT.

Indicative reading

M Tomasello, The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition. Harvard University Press, 1999. M Cole, Cultural Psychology: A once and future discipline. Harvard University Press, 1996. S Moscovici, Social Representations: Exploration in Social Psychology. Polity Press, 2000. L Vygotsky, Mind in Society. Harvard University Press, 1978. J Valsiner and A Rosa (Eds), Cambridge Handbook of Sociocultural Psychology, Cambridge University Press, 2007. S Jovchelovitch, Knowledge in Context: Representations, community and culture. Routledge, 2007. G Semin & G Echterhoff, Grounding Sociality: Neurons, Mind and Culture. Psychology Press, 2010. B Franks, Cognition and Culture: Evolutionary Perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. J Israel & H Tajfel, The Context of Social Psychology, Academic Press, 1972; M Billig, Arguing and Thinking: A Rhetorical Approach to Social Psychology, CUP, 1987. K Deaux & G Philogene, Representations of the Social, Blackwell, 2001; R M Farr, The Roots of Modern Social Psychology, Blackwell, 1996; U. Flick, The Psychology of the Social. Cambridge University Press, 1998. H Tajfel, Human Groups and Social Categories; Studies in Social Psychology, CUP, 1981. J. Wertsch (ed.) Culture, Communication and Cognition. Cambridge University Press, 1985. In addition, reading lists on specific topics will be distributed during the course.


Exam (25%, duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes) in the LT week 0.
Essay (75%, 5000 words) in the MT.

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 12.1
Merit 79.1
Pass 7.7
Fail 1.1

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2015/16: 33

Average class size 2015/16: 12

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Lecture capture used 2015/16: Yes (MT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills