PB304      Half Unit
Organisational and Social Decision-Making

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Tom Reader

Prof Bradley Franks CON.3.07


This course is available on the BSc in Psychological and Behavioural Science. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

Course content

This course teaches theory and engages with research from the field of organisational and social decision-making. It is primarily focused on complex organisational contexts shaped by scarce resources, high uncertainity and high consequences for failure. The course provides a historical introduction to decision-making and introduces the core concepts used by social psychologists to understand (and improve) decision-making processes in organisations. It draws upon the social, cognitive and organisational psychology literatures, and considers the core concepts and tools used to understand, research, and support decision-making in organisations. These theories and tools are contextualized through empirical and case study examples taken from domains such as humanitarian operations, healthcare and finance.

Students will be encouraged to take a critical perspective, and to consider how the principles taught on the course can be applied to (and used to improve) a variety of social or organisational scenarios. The course will cover psychology (or 'Human Factors') concepts such as: intuitive and analytical forms of decision-making; individual traits and cognitive factors that influence decision-makers (e.g. biases and emotions); human error and decision-failures; rule breaking; and group decision-making processes (e.g. teamwork and leadership).  It will teach methods for analysing decision errors, identifying decision-making competencies, observing decision-making, and supporting group decision processes.

By the end of the course you should:

  • Understand the topic of organisational and social decision-making, and to demonstrate its importance.
  • Be informed about the core theories and concepts used by psychologists to understand and explain decision-making in organisational and social settings and to relate them to theories in behavioural science.
  • Be able apply this understanding in order to understand how decision-making processes influence outcomes in organisational and social settings.
  • Have reviewed methods and approaches used to research real-life decision-making in psychology and behavioural science.
  • Have explored the psychological and behavioural science tools and techniques for improving organisational and social decision-making processes.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and classes totalling a minimum of 20 hours across Lent Term. There is a reading week in Week 6 of Lent term.

Lectures will be delivered jointly with PB427, an MSc level course in the department. Classes will be specific for undergraduate students.

Formative coursework

For each major and minor assessment option there is an equivalent piece of formative coursework. These are designed to help students to prepare for the summative assessments.

Formative coursework to support minor assessment

  • Draft script for presentation
  • Draft script for podcast
  • Proposal for poster
  • Proposal for visual media

Formative coursework to support major assessment

  • Draft proposal for policy case study
  • Outline of essay
  • Draft parliamentary POSTnote and annotated bibliography 
  • Draft blog post and Draft Op-ed

Indicative reading

  • Bazerman, M. & Moore, D. (2009) Judgement in Managerial Decision-Making. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley
  • Brown, R. (2000) Group Processes: dynamics within and between groups. Oxford: Blackwell
  • Furnham, A. (2005). The Psychology of Behaviour at Work. Hove: Psychology Press


Assignment (30%) in the LT.
Assignment (70%) in the ST.

Students will choose ONE minor and ONE major assessment from the lists below:

Minor Assessment (30%, due at the end of Lent Term)

  • 10 minute recorded presentation
  • 10 minute podcast
  • A1 poster
  • A5 visual media

Major Assessment (70%, due at the start of Summer Term)

  • 3000 word Policy Case Study comprised of Executive Summary (250 words) and Proposal (2500 words)
  • 3000 word Essay
  • 1500 word parliamentary POSTnote with 1000 word annotated bibliography
  • 1500 word blog post AND 1500 word Op-ed

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2021/22: 11

Average class size 2021/22: 11

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

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