Psychology of Crowds and Collective Action (C8817)

15 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

This module is about crowds and other collective phenomena, including riots, protests, social movements, mass emergency behaviour, and mundane situations of crowding. A fundamental question we address is how large numbers of people are able to act as one, particularly in novel situations. In both psychology and popular accounts, many of the answers given to this question suggested that collective behaviour occurs through a diminution of self or identity. This explained what some (particularly outside observers) understood as the mindlessness and irrationality they observed in crowd events such as riots. The module critically reviews these arguments through drawing on contemporary theory and research on crowds and collective action, according to which collective behaviours and experiences are meaningful, purposive and often positive.

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 24 hours of contact time and about 126 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: