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.

Teaching and assessment

We’re currently reviewing teaching and assessment of our modules in light of the COVID-19 situation. We’ll publish the latest information as soon as possible.

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 22 hours of contact time and about 128 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2021/22. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our courses. There may be changes to modules in response to student demand or feedback, changes to staff expertise or updates to our curriculum. We may also need to make changes in response to COVID-19. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: