Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module PSYC42115: Power and Influence

Department: Psychology

PSYC42115: Power and Influence

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap None.
Tied to C8K409


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • Acquire a critical understanding of the psychology of individual and group-based power and social influence. Apply this knowledge in domains such as personal effectiveness.


  • This module examines the psychology of power and social influence.
  • The module begins with an introduction to the psychology of individual and group based-power, before critically addressing key studies and exploring their application to a range of decision-making contexts.
  • Topics can vary from year to year but are likely to include studies of status, power and leadership; classic and contemporary research on conformity and persuasion; and ways of gaining influence.
  • The module will also cover related conceptual and historical issues in psychology and behavioural science.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Detailed knowledge of a range of specific research topics and methods in the field of behavioural science on the topic of power and influence.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to review critically and consolidate understanding of a coherent body of literature on the topic of power and influence.
  • Ability to apply knowledge of theories and emipirical studies on power and influence to a range of problems.
Key Skills:
  • Good written communication skills
  • Good IT skills in word processing, data manipulation and data presentation
  • Ability to work independently in scholarship and research within broad guidelines

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Students' acquisition of detailed knowledge will be facilitated by weekly seminars
  • The seminars will include elements of small group work and student-led discussions, which will enable students to learn independently and develop their oral communication skills
  • The use of group discussions / small group work will ensure that students are exposed to a range of different theoretical positions, and encouraged to understand their inter-relations
  • Discussions and small group work will also give students the opportunity to interpret and evaluate the significance of empirical work
  • Audio-visual materials and detailed reading lists will be used as learning aids
  • These modes of teaching provide students with detailed knowledge of the key theories and the skills needed to evaluate different theoretical positions in light of current empirical evidence
  • The module’s learning outcomes will be assessed by two pieces of summative work: a presentation and a two-hour examination
  • The presentation will assess students’ ability to apply social psychological principles to influence an audience, and to practice communication and presentation skills
  • The 2,000 word essay will assess students' acquired subject knowledge of theoretical principles and empirical studies on the topic of power and influence, and their ability to organise and synthesise them coherently and critically in written form in response to a set question
  • An assessment of the range, recency and appropriateness of sources will be included in the overall assessment of the essay
  • The essay will also assess students’ written communication skills
  • Feedback on the essay and the presentation will be available within 3 teaching weeks allowing students plenty of time to benefit from feedback on this aspect of their work

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 11 1 per week 2 hours 22
Preparation and reading 128
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Presentation Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Oral Presentation 3-5 minutes 100% YES
Component: Summative Assessment Component Weighting: 75%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Essay 2000 words 100% YES

Formative Assessment:


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University