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Psychology of City Life 1LIB507
University of Westminster
London, England

Subject Area(s) Level(s) Instruction in Credits Contact Hours Prerequisites
Liberal Arts and Sciences 300 English 4 50 N/A

This class aims to provide students with the opportunity to engage with a range of topics and issues in psychology that relate to living in or visiting a large urban city such as London.
It will bring together research and theory from a number of areas of psychology including social psychology, health psychology and forensic psychology. Lectures will discuss recent research and seminars will provide students with practical activities and discussions related to each topic.


To introduce students to a range of perspectives and issues in psychology that can throw light on the experience of city living.
To encourage students to discuss and evaluate psychological research methods that have been applied in this area.
To develop further students’ academic writing and presentation skills for psychology.


On successful completion of the class students should be able to demonstrate that they can:
1. Discuss and critically evaluate psychological perspectives and issues relevant to the
experience of city life.
2. Demonstrate skills in researching, summarising and reviewing relevant literature and
employ an appropriate style for academic writing in psychology.
3. Research and summarise a relevant area of the literature as a group undertaking,
and present findings to peers.


1. Introduction to a range of issues relevant to living in cities and the psychological
methods that can be used to investigate them.
2. Social aspects of city life: diversity in city populations; dealing with prejudice and
racism; aggression and overcrowding; environmental influences on behaviour
including prosocial and antisocial behaviour
3. Forensic aspects of city living: Inner city crime; factors influencing the quality of
witness testimony.
4. Health issues: Health inequalities in the inner city: the problem of the ‘Postcode
Lottery’ in health care; stress and the impact on psychological well-being of living in
an urban environment.
5. Community and loneliness: the paradox of loneliness in a large city; the emergence
of virtual friendships and communities.
6. Promoting change and wellbeing: coping with urban life: a role for positive


Teaching is by a combination of interactive lectures (1½ hours) and seminar based group activities over 3 weeks. The seminar sessions will include further discussion of the material presented in lectures.

The written assignment requires students to develop the skills necessary to access academic information through books, journals, the internet and other sources, and to examine a particular topic in depth.
The oral presentation involves assessment of both the presentation itself and the teamwork and research effort that supported it. Of the 30% allocated to the presentation, 20% will be for the individual’s presentation and 10% to the group effort.


Assessment will be based on two components:
· Written assignment (70% of the overall class mark) Word length – 2000 words.
· Presentation (30% of the overall class mark) of the 30% allocated to the presentation, 20% will be for the individual’s presentation and 10% to the group effort.


Written assignment:
Demonstrates understanding of theory, reviews major research in the area, relates the various positions reviewed both to one another and to the writer's own position on the issue. Supports the position taken by reference to the research, evaluates the empirical evidence discussed, identifies areas for future research, has consulted a range of sources, has provided full references for these sources in the approved manner. (Learning outcomes 1 and 2)
A grasp of theoretical, empirical background to research, originality in selection of the topic, presentation skills, projection, delivery, AV aids, clarity of communication, time
management. Team work and cooperation. (Learning outcomes 1 and 3).


Essential Reading
Carlson, N.R., Martin, G. N. & Buskist, W. (2006). Psychology, Pearson Education Ltd:
Eysenck, M. (Ed) (2005). Psychology – a Student’s Handbook. Psychology Press: Hampshire.
Additional Reading
Augoustinos, M. & Reynolds, K. (eds.) (2001). Understanding Prejudice, Racism and Social Conflict. London: Sage.
Cacioppo, J.T. & Patrick, W. (2008). Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection. W. W. Norton & Co: US
Diener, E. & Biswas-Diener, R. (2008). Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological
Wealth. London: Wiley-Blackwell.
Kaptein, A. & Weinman, J. (Eds) (2004). Health Psychology. Oxford, BPS Blackwell.
Lynch, J. J. (2000). A Cry Unheard: New Insights into the Medical Consequences of Loneliness.
Bancroft P: U.S.
Marc J. Schabracq, Jacques A.M. Winnubst & Cary L. Cooper. (eds) (2003) The Handbook of Work and Heath Psychology (2nd ed). Chichester: Wiley.
Nelson, T. (2005). The Psychology of Prejudice. (2nd ed). London: Allyn and Bacon.
Peterson, Christopher. (2006). A Primer in Positive Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University
WWW Resources
British Journal of Health Psychology
Health Psychology
Health Psychology Update
The Journal of Positive Psychology
The Psychologist
British Journal of Social Psychology

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