Psychology of Work

This module information is representative of what is included in the module in a given year. Details of actual reading, lectures and coursework may vary year to year and will be available at the beginning of the semester.


 Module Co-ordinator

 Professor Alex Wood





Credit value


Contact hours

The module will be delivered through combined lecture and discussion sessions (24 hours), a workshop (6 hours), and two student led presentation colloquium (10 hours).


Assessment will consist of 40% weighted coursework (through a 20% poster presentation and a 20% verbal presentation) and a 60% weighted written end of semester exam (based on 2 questions to be completed from a selection within two hours).

Work and Organisational psychology is the primary field concerned with applying psychological theory and methods to understanding the individual in the workplace.


Module Objectives

This model will provide a detailed insight into each of the key areas of the field based on the 8 topics within the British Psychological Society Curriculum for Occupational Psychology. Students will also receive a stand-alone “Masterclass” on personality, a concept that underpins much of the research in Work Psychology, which will also consider the wider implications of personality psychology for other covered on the Masters programme such as economics.


Learning Outcomes

Specific knowledge of the core areas of occupational psychology and related issues.

By the end of the module students should be able to understand and evaluate the application of psychology to the following areas of work:

1. Human-machine interaction. This topic is based on an understanding that in modern workplaces people’s interactions with machines, including computers and workstations, are integral to their role. Explores how psychology can inform the design of systems for ease of use and to avoid accidents that arise from improper use of and fundamental design faults within machine systems.

2. Design of work environments. Considers how the physical environment of the workplace can relate to productivity and health and well-being at work, as well as how behavioural scientists can work with engineers to design optimal environments.

3. Personnel selection and assessment. Examines how psychological measurement (such as personality traits) can be conducted and how this can be used to inform personal selection and assessment.

4. Performance appraisal and career development. Considers how psychological research can be used to inform how people are appraised at work and develop in their careers.

5. Counselling and personal development. Critically examines the key counselling and well-being intervention approaches that can be used to support employee well-being.

6. Training. Examines the role of psychology in developing and implementing training programs in the workplace.

7. Employee relations and motivation. Explores psychological research into employee relations and interventions and how this can be used in practice.

8. Organisational development and change.  Considers the role of psychology in informing organisation change, such as downsizing or implementing growth strategies.


Generic skills (e.g. Information skills/oral and written communication skills/numeracy/team working/personal organisational skills).

Students will develop skills in the presentation of research, including through poster and verbal presentations.


Cognitive: (e.g. analytical/problem-solving/interpretative/critical reasoning).

Critical analysis; application of theory to real world problems.

Please note the information contained here is for 2014/15 and is subject to change for 2015/16

The core text books for this module are:

Lewis, R., & Zibarras, L. (2013). Work and Occupational Psychology: Integrating Theory and Practice. London: Sage.

Steptoe-Warren, G. Occupational Psychology: An Applied Approach. Harlow Gate, UK: Pearson.

Additional readings will be provided in lectures.

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