Caring and Helping: the Psychology of Concern and Commitment (C8014)

15 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

The material on this module examines when and why people care and help – or do not. Although the focus will be on caring for and helping other people, we will be interested in commitment more generally, e.g., to one’s self, to one’s relationships, to one’s country, to one’s god, to justice, etc. We will also be interested in whether non-human animals ever have similar concerns and commitments. Most sub-disciplines within psychology (e.g., biological, clinical, cognitive, developmental, personality, social) will be considered on the module, as will aspects of several related disciplines (e.g., economics, philosophy, sociology).

At an abstract level, several related phenomena will be investigated, including collectivism, morality, and prudence. At a practical level, this will involve consideration of such behaviours as activism, adoption, advocacy, animal welfare, blood and body-part donation, citizenship, courtesy, environmentalism, ethical investment, gift-giving, heroism, honesty, kindness, philanthropy, prejudice-reduction, support-giving, surrogacy, tax paying, tipping, tolerance, vaccination, volunteering, etc.. Less obvious and more contentious domains will include lying, mercy-killing, violent service (e.g., soldiering, terrorism), etc. Critical thinking will be encouraged throughout the module, as will consideration of the relationship between academic research and practical application.


100%: Lecture


30%: Coursework (Test)
70%: Examination (Unseen examination)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 150 hours of work. This breaks down into 22 hours of contact time and 128 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2019/20. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.