Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024

Module EDUC3361: Science of Learning

Department: Education

EDUC3361: Science of Learning

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • One of the following modules; EDUC1521 Foundations of Psychology in Education or EDUC2321 Learning and Development in Childhood or an equivalent Psychology module.


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To develop a scientific understanding of how human learning can be studied scientifically and how this can contribute to better describe, explain, and influence learning in real-life contexts.


  • The module critically examines key theories and concepts related to learning as a life-long process.
  • The role of various cognitive and non-cognitive concepts, including working memory, reasoning ability, knowledge, expertise, motivation, emotion, personality and others will be discussed as antecedences as well as consequences of learning.
  • This includes, for instance, how they relate to key outcomes of learning, which ranges from academic achievement, or job performance to well-being.
  • Another conceptual and methodological focus will be on the measurement of learning processes and outcomes.
  • Implications for education in formal as well as informal contexts will be discussed.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • At the end of the module successful students will have:
  • acquired knowledge and refined their understanding of how learning can be studied scientifically;
  • gained an understanding of the significance and limitations of various conceptual and methodological approaches to studying learning processes and how these can contribute to better describe, explain, and influence learning in real-life contexts;
  • extended their understanding of the range of factors that are likely to influence learning, including individual differences in cognitive and non-cognitive attributes of the learner, but also environmental and situational factors.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Successful students will be able to:
  • analyse complex situations and appreciate how these are likely to be reflected in the context of various conceptualisations of learning;
  • interrogate the assumptions that underpin theories, models, and empirical research related to learning;
  • develop informed arguments concerning human learning in different contexts using appropriate terminology.
Key Skills:
  • Successful students will hone their skills:
  • to learn independently, including the capability to plan, manage, and to reflect on their own learning (e.g. working to deadlines);
  • to further develop informed criticality and to construct and sustain a reasoned argument;
  • to use written and spoken communication skills effectively (and efficiently) with appropriate use of specialist terminology, underpinned by knowledge and understanding;
  • to retrieve complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way, including the use of a variety of library and IT resources.

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

  • Learning in this module is facilitated through lectures and seminar teaching and is supported by resources on the virtual learning environment (VLE). Directed, yet independent work, is an important part of the module. Lectures enable the ideas of the module to be considered. Seminar work enables students to develop their understanding of the ideas and consider them in a range of professionally relevant contexts. Activities in seminars include a variety of active learning approaches including discussion, group work, presentations, question and answer sessions, and individual tasks. Preparation for the assignment involves students in wide reading and critical reflection on ideas of the module.
  • The success with which students have acquired knowledge and a critical understanding of a scientific approach to studying learning in educational contexts is assessed via a 2500 word written assignment. In addition to verbal feedback given to students' contributions during class teaching sessions (ie lectures, seminars), but also via online tools (shared documents or discussion boards), the preparation for the summative assessment is supported by the opportunity to receive formative feedback on an outline of the assignment.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 11 Fortnightly 2 hours 22
Seminars 10 Fortnightly 1 hour 10
Preparation and reading 168
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Assignment 2500 words 100% No

Formative Assessment:

Verbal feedback is given to students' contribution during class teaching sessions. Staff can be contacted for individual help. Written formative feedback is provided for the academic outline of the assignment.

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