The biological, psychological, and sociological concepts of learning 

Module details

  • Offered to 2nd Year students in Autumn Term - Mondays 16:00-18:00
  • Offered to 3rd Year students in Spring Term - Thursdays 16:00-18:00
  • Planned delivery: On campus (South Kensington)
  • 1-term module worth 5 ECTS
  • Available to eligible students as part of I-Explore

What dictates the way in which we approach learning? Is there something about our biology that predetermines how effectively we assimilate new information, or are we more likely to be rely on inspiration from role models in our field? This module decodes the process of learning and allows you to identify what strategies and approaches work best for you. You will explore the concept of learning from three different perspectives - as a biological function of the brain, as a psychological function of the mind, and as a socially-situated activity. You will also experience some research practices used to study learning from all three theoretical perspectives, and the module will provide you with strategies to help you better engage with your future learning. 

This module will help you critically evaluate the process of learning from a neurological, psychological, and socio-cultural perspective, as well as to reflect on your learning experiences. You will also learn how to analyse the application of neurological, psychological, and socio-cultural perspectives in a range of teaching-related contexts, and to design appropriate interventions for pedagogic challenges. 


Learning outcomes

By the end of this module, you will better be able to: 

  • Critically evaluate the process of learning from a neurogical, psychological, and socio-cultural perspective 
  • Reflect on your learning experiences using the neurogical, psychological, and socio-cultural theoretical perspectives 
  • Critique how neurogical, psychological, and socio-cultural perspectives are (mis)applied in a range of pedagogic contexts 
  • Identify significant pedagogic challenges and/or opportunities and design appropriately theoretically-informed interventions 

Indicative core content

The module takes place over 10 weeks with a two-hour face to face session each week. These sessions will combine expert input with regular opportunity for learners to apply concepts and methods to real-world contexts, including their own. This will be supported by examples, case studies, discussion and participatory pedagogic research.  The face to face sessions will be supported by reading, video and on-line material and will be interactive, using elements of team-based learning (TBL) to help students learn independently and from each other. Typically, a taught session would require some independent study of the available resources in advance and would include individual and group activity in the classroom. Each of the three theoretical approaches (neuroscience, psychology and sociocultural) will be introduced and then used as a theoretical lens to examine educational practice and your experience. For each approach you will also have a chance to participate in educational research techniques typical of that approach. For example, you may undertake memory testing tasks used by neuroscientists and complete learning inventories or confidence scales used by psychologists. You will also experience observational study of both video material and your own practice as used to investigate education in a sociocultural context. 

Each of the three theoretical approaches will have a short assignment based around you applying the theoretical lens to examine an educational topic of interest and relevance to you, which will be submitted for formative feedback.  You will do three of these formative tasks applying the three different theoretical lenses to the same or different areas of teaching and learning relevant to you. You will receive feedback on each task as the module progresses; these tasks will then form the basis of a final summatively assessed task which integrates the three previous formative submissions and draws some brief final conclusions or recommendations. This final assessment will be a group presentation using two or more examples from the groups’ formative assignments to present a comparative study using the theoretical lenses to analyse the teaching and learning and formulate recommendations. This may be done as a ‘live’ presentation or by presenting a short video. In addition to this all students will complete a short reflective diary of their learning throughout the module. This will both inform the assignments and will be used to give a mark for individual insight and engagement. 


Learning and teaching approach

There will be a combination of interactive lectures and individual independent learning, supported by case studies and discussion. There will also be an opportunity to engage in educational experiments and individual/group learning tasks. 

You will receive informal formative feedback on participation in class activities, and there will be regular formative feedback on classroom quizzes. You will also receive formative feedback from the module tutors following submission of your drafts for each of the topic-based assignments, and summative feedback on your final submissions. 



  • Individual Reflective Log (1000 words) (10%) 
  • 500-word Individual Assignment (Neuroscience) (20%)
  • 500-word Individual Assignment (Psychology) (20%) 
  • 500-word Individual Assignment (Socio-cultural) (20%) 


  • Group oral presentation, either ‘live’ online or asynchronously via video (30%) 

Key information

  • Requirements: It is compulsory to take an I-Explore module during your degree (you’ll take an I-Explore module in either your 2nd or 3rd year, depending on your department). You are expected to attend all classes and undertake approximately 105 hours of independent study in total during the module. Independent study includes for example reading and preparation for classes, researching and writing coursework assignments, project work and preparing for other assessments 
  • I-Explore modules are worth 5 ECTS credit towards your degree; to receive these you will have to pass the module. The numerical mark that you obtain will not be included in the calculation of your final degree result, but it will appear on your transcript 
  • This module is offered by the Faculty Centre for Higher Education Research and Scholarship 
  • This module is designed as an undergraduate Level 6 course