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IR110: Foundations of Psychological Science

Subject Area: International Relations, Government, Psychology and Society

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Course details

  • Department
    Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science
  • Application code
Session oneLimited - 17 Jun 2024 - 5 Jul 2024
Session twoNot running in 2024
Session threeNot running in 2024


Limited spaces available

We are accepting applications but places are limited. Don't miss out - apply online now.


This course provides an introduction to human cognition and behaviour, addressing foundational topics in psychological science.

These foundational topics include key concepts such as evolution, genetics, neuroscience, and culture, and specific topics, such as perception, memory, cognition, decision-making, child development, psychopathology, personality, intelligence, emotion, attraction, cross-cultural differences, prejudice, norms, attitudes, social learning, social influence, and group processes.

Uniquely, the course will offer an integrated perspective on these topics, investigating the evolution and variation in human psychology over time, across cultures, and over the lifespan. The course will introduce the history of the study of humans and human psychology, offering students the historical context to trends in research.

The course begins with some historical context, some philosophy of science, links to other fields, and events in history that help students contextualize their learning. With this context in place, students are introduced to a theoretical framework grounded in evolutionary biology for organizing their knowledge, so that what they learn is less a series of disconnected topics and more a natural expansion from the individual brain, to individuals in society, to societal level processes. The course then brings it back together, with links to real-world issues throughout.

A key element of the course is a blog post assessment that focuses on how to communicate complex ideas in ways that are coherent and engaging to a general audience - an essential skill in today's world.

Take a look at some of our student blogs on the subject.

Key information

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course. 

Level: 100 level. Read more information on levels in our FAQs

Fees: Please see Fees and payments

Lectures: 36 hours

Classes: 18 hours

Assessment: A 1,000 word blog post (40%), and a final exam (60%)

Typical credit: 3-4 credits (US) 7.5 ECTS points (EU)

Please note: Assessment is optional but may be required for credit by your home institution. Your home institution will be able to advise how you can meet their credit requirements. For more information on exams and credit, read Teaching and assessment

Is this course right for you?

The course is suitable to students in psychology and behavioural science and also those enrolled in other programmes who wish to enrich their understanding by drawing on the psychological sciences. As well as clinical or educational applications, this course can be applied to a broad range of careers including Marketing, Human Resources and Recruitment.


  • Develop a broad, introductory understanding of the psychological and behavioural sciences, including key concepts, theories, and evidence.
  • Understand how the psychological and behavioural sciences connect to other closely related social and biological sciences, disciplines concerned with humans, human behaviour, and human institutions.
  • Develop a “mental model” of human behaviour that students can apply to understanding interactions in their everyday lives and events occurring in the world around them.
  • Communicate new understanding in a manner accessible to a general audience, illustrating with broadly relatable cases and examples.
  • Understand the connections between different levels of understanding such that students can zoom into the individual brain, zoom out to the societal-level and contextualize both in the breadth of human history and depth of evolutionary history.
  • Prepare for more in-depth investigations of more advanced topics in later courses.


Jonathan Tam, Canada

The fundamentals of my course are covered at my home institution, but the summer school course gives me an extra breadth into how the industry works. It’s been a really good experience in diversifying my skill set.


The design of this course is guided by LSE faculty, as well as industry experts, who will share their experience and in-depth knowledge with you throughout the course.

Michael Muthukrishna

Dr Michael Muthukrishna

Associate Professor of Economic Psychology

Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington

Dr Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington

Associate Professor of Social Psychology


LSE’s Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science conducts research and teaching into human psychology and behaviour. What began over 50 years ago as a group of researchers studying psychology and society has expanded to become the focal point of psychological and behavioural science at the LSE. It is now home to a truly interdisciplinary faculty and research team, spanning research areas from social psychology to behavioural economics, political psychology to organisational culture, consumer behaviour to public engagement, and community development to global health, happiness and well-being.

A clear and determined focus on real-world issues sets the department, and the LSE, apart. This focus enables the production of research that is not only theoretically well-informed but also firmly rooted in questions from beyond the ivory tower, producing results that impact policy, business, and society at large. By maintaining a focus on real-world questions and societal impact, the department has been leading the way on innovative research techniques in the field, the lab, and everywhere in between.


Limited spaces available

We are accepting applications but places are limited. Don't miss out - apply online now.