Introduction to Psychology 1/IPSY100 OERu course specification

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Part A: Course specification


  • OERu course name: Introduction to psychology 1
  • Level: 1st year Bachelor's degree
  • Notional learning hours: 120
  • Micro-courses (Three micro-courses of 40 hours each)
    1. Foundations of Psychological Science (IPSY101)
    2. Thinking learning and memory (IPSY102)
    3. Evolution perception and consciousness (IPSY103)
  • OERu course codes: IPSY101, IPSY102 and IPSY103
  • OERu assessing institutions: Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  • Micro-credential options: No
  • OERu mode of study: Self-directed study or cohort-based independent study with peer-learning support.

Course aim

To become familiar with the history and research methods of psychology and to critically examine topics related to basic psychological processes.

Learning outcomes

  1. Explain and critically evaluate current topics and research in the field of psychology
  2. Describe basic psychological processes
  3. Describe and apply rudimentary research and statistical methods
  4. Access and comprehend current research
  5. Utilize effective writing skills in examinations
  6. Use critical thinking skills through discussion and analysis of psychological issues

Indicative content

  1. History of Psychology
  2. Research methods
  3. Biological bases of behaviour
  4. Learning
  5. Memory
  6. Thinking & Intelligence
  7. Nature, Nurture & Evolution
  8. Sensation & Perception
  9. States of Consciousness

Assessment and credit transfer options

Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Assessment type Learning outcomes Details Weighting Completion requirements
Examination LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6 Multiple-choice and short-answer questions 33.33% Must pass with a minimum of 50%
Examination LO1, LO2, LO4, LO5, LO6 Multiple-choice and short-answer questions 33.33% Must pass with a minimum of 50%
Examination LO1, LO2, LO4, LO5, LO6 Multiple-choice and short-answer questions 33.33% Must pass with a minimum of 50%


Students must meet the English proficiency requirement of the Faculty of Arts at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. This may be satisfied in any one of the following ways:

1. Testing Options

  • KPU English Placement Test (EPT) with placement into ENGL 1100
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic Test: overall band of 6.5 or higher, with a minimum 6.0 in each band, taken within the last two years
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): iBT 88 or higher, with no sub score less than 20, taken within the last two years
  • Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL): Score of 70 or higher with no sub score less than 60, taken within the last two years
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): Score of 61 or higher, taken within the last two years
  • Language Proficiency Index (LPI): Level 5 with an essay score of 30 or higher, taken within the last two years

2. High School Courses

  • Completion of BC English 12 or English Literature 12 or English First Peoples 12 with a minimum grade of C+ or Communications 12 with a minimum grade of A (or equivalents)
  • As part of the Adult Dogwood Diploma, completion of English 12 with a minimum grade of C+ or completion of Communications 12 with a minimum grade of A
  • Completion of IB (International Baccalaureate) English A1/A2 (HL or SL) with a minimum grade of 3 (or C+)
  • Completion of AP (Advanced Placement) English Language and Composition or AP English Literature and Composition with a minimum grade of 2 (or C+)

3. Undergraduate Courses

  • Completion of 3 credits of undergraduate English (ENGL) with a minimum grade of C- from a recognized post-secondary institution where English is the primary language of instruction
  • Graduation from a baccalaureate degree, or two-year diploma program, or successful completion of two years of study (60 credits) at the undergraduate level, with a minimum CGPA of 2.0, at a recognized post-secondary institution where English is the primary language of instruction

4. Courses at Kwantlen Polytechnic University

  • Completion of ELST 0381 and ELST 0383 (or equivalents) with a minimum grade of B in both or ELST 0381 with a minimum grade of B and a KPU placement score higher than ELST 0383 level
  • Completion of ENGQ 1091, ENGQ 1092 or ENGQ 1099 (or equivalents) with a minimum grade of C

Part B: Detailed objectives

Micro-course structure

Learners are required to complete three micro-courses for academic credit.

Micro 1: Foundations of psychological science

Learning objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, learners will be able to:

What is psychology
  • Provide both the historical and modern scientific definitions of psychology
  • Describe the merits of an education in psychology

History of psychology

  • Describe how Wundt’s Structuralism and James’s Functionalism led to the birth of scientific psychology
  • Describe major developments in the history of psychology including Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory, Gestalt Psychology, and Behaviourism
  • Explain what view humanism rejected and what view it proposed instead
  • Explain why the cognitive revolution shifted psychology’s focus back to the mind

Contemporary psychology

  • Explain how the American Psychological Association reflects the diversity of psychology
  • Summarize each of the major subdisciplines of psychology

Careers in pyschology

  • Specify the requirements of a PhD in psychology
  • Compare the employment sectors for graduates with a BA in Psychology vs. graduates with a PhD in psychology.
  • Contrast the differences between the PhD, PsyD, and MD degrees.

Why is research important?

  • Explain how the scientific approach can address questions about behaviour
  • Diagram the scientific method
  • Define the term scientific hypothesis and explain why they need to be falsifiable
  • Explain how scientific research can guide both public policy and personal decisions

Approaches to research

  • Describe the different research methods used by psychologists
  • Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of case studies, naturalistic observation, surveys, and archival research
  • Compare longitudinal and cross-sectional approaches to research

Analyzing findings

  • Define the terms correlation coefficient and illusory correlation
  • Explain why a correlation does not indicate a cause-and-effect relationship between variables
  • Explain random sampling and random assignment of participants into experimental and control groups
  • Discuss how experimenter or participant bias could affect the results of an experiment
  • Identify independent and dependent variables in a research design
  • Define the concepts of reliability and validity


  • Discuss how research involving human subjects is regulated
  • Summarize the processes of informed consent and debriefing

Cells of the nervous system

  • Identify the basic parts of a neuron
  • Describe how neurons communicate with each other
  • Explain how drugs act as agonists or antagonists for a given neurotransmitter system

Parts of the nervous system

  • Differentiate between the central and peripheral nervous systems
  • Explain the difference between the somatic and autonomic nervous systems
  • Differentiate between the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the autonomic nervous system

The brain and spinal cord

  • Explain the functions of the spinal cord
  • Identify the hemispheres and lobes of the brain
  • Describe the types of techniques available to clinicians and researchers to image or scan the brain

The endocrine system

  • Identify the major glands of the endocrine system, the hormones they secrete, and their functional roles

Micro 2: Thinking learning and memory

Learning objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, learners will be able to:

What is cognition?

  • Define cognitive psychology
  • Distinguish concepts and prototypes
  • Explain the difference between natural and artificial concepts
  • Explain the difference between role schema and event schema


  • Define language and describe the components of language
  • Create a table describing the stages of language development
  • Explain the relationship between language and thinking


  • Describe problem-solving strategies
  • Define algorithm and heuristic
  • Explain some common roadblocks to effective problem solving including 5 types of decision bias

What are intelligence and creativity?

  • Define intelligence
  • Explain the triarchic theory of intelligence
  • Identify the difference between intelligence theories
  • Identify a representative career for each of the 8 types of multiple intelligences

Measures of intelligence

  • Explain how intelligence tests are developed
  • Describe the history of the use of IQ tests
  • Describe the purposes and benefits of intelligence testing

The source of intelligence

  • Describe how genetics and environment affect intelligence
  • Explain the relationship between IQ scores and socioeconomic status
  • Describe the difference between a learning disability and a developmental disorder

What is learning?

  • Explain how learned behaviours are different from instincts and reflexes
  • Define learning
  • Recognize and define three basic forms of learning: classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning

Classical conditioning

  • Explain how classical conditioning occurs
  • Summarize the processes of acquisition, extinction, spontaneous recovery, generalization, and discrimination

Operant conditioning

  • Explain the difference between reinforcement and punishment
  • Distinguish between reinforcement schedules

Observational learning (modelling)

  • Define observational learning
  • Discuss the steps in the modeling process
  • Explain the prosocial and antisocial effects of observational learning

How memory functions

  • Discuss the three basic functions of memory
  • Describe the three stages of memory storage
  • Describe and distinguish between procedural and declarative memory and semantic and episodic memory

Parts of the brain Involved in memory

  • Explain the brain functions involved in memory
  • Recognize the roles of the hippocampus, amygdala, and cerebellum

Problems with memory

  • Compare and contrast the two types of amnesia
  • Discuss the unreliability of eyewitness testimony
  • Discuss encoding failure
  • Discuss the various memory errors
  • Compare and contrast the two types of interference

Ways to enhance memory

  • Recognize and apply memory-enhancing strategies
  • Recognize and apply effective study techniques

Micro 3: Evolution perception and consciousness

Learning objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, learners will be able to: Evolutionary psychology

  • Define "evolution"
  • Explain the basic principles of the theory of evolution by natural selection
  • Describe the differences between genotype and phenotype
  • Discuss how gene-environment interactions are critical for expression of physical and psychological characteristics
  • Define sexual selection and its two primary processes
  • Define gene selection theory
  • Give an example of a psychological adaptation
  • Identify the core premises of sexual strategies theory
  • Identify the core premises of error management theory
  • Provide two empirical examples of adaptive cognitive biases.

Sensation and perception

  • Distinguish between sensation and perception
  • Describe the concepts of absolute threshold and difference threshold
  • Discuss the roles attention, motivation, and sensory adaptation play in perception

Waves and wavelengths

  • Draw a wave and describe the peak, trough, wavelength, amplitude, and frequency
  • Show how physical properties of light waves are associated with perceptual experience
  • Show how physical properties of sound waves are associated with perceptual experience


  • Describe the basic anatomy of the visual system
  • Discuss how rods and cones contribute to different aspects of vision
  • Describe how monocular and binocular cues are used in the perception of depth


  • Describe the basic anatomy and function of the auditory system
  • Explain how we encode and perceive pitch
  • Discuss how we localize sound

The other senses

  • Describe the basic functions of the chemical senses
  • Explain the basic functions of the somatosensory, nociceptive, and thermoceptive sensory systems
  • Describe the basic functions of the vestibular, proprioceptive, and kinesthetic sensory systems

What is consciousness?

  • Define consciousness
  • Explain how circadian rhythms are involved in regulating the sleep-wake cycle, and how circadian cycles can be disrupted
  • Discuss the concept of sleep debt

Sleep and why we sleep

  • Describe areas of the brain involved in sleep
  • Identify the hormone secretions associated with sleep
  • Describe several theories aimed at explaining the function of sleep

Stages of sleep

  • Differentiate between REM and non-REM sleep
  • Describe the differences between the four stages of non-REM sleep
  • Describe the role that REM and non-REM sleep play in learning and memory

Sleep problems and disorders

  • Describe the symptoms and treatments of insomnia
  • Describe the symptoms of several parasomnias
  • Describe the symptoms and treatments for sleep apnea
  • Identify risk factors associated with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and steps to prevent it
  • Describe the symptoms and treatments for narcolepsy

Substance use and abuse

  • Describe the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorders
  • Identify the neurotransmitter systems affected by various categories of drugs
  • Describe how different categories of drugs affect behaviour and experience

Other states of consciousness

  • Define hypnosis and meditation
  • Describe the similarities and differences of hypnosis and meditation

Course links (if available)