Module Catalogue 2016/17

PSY3009 : Cooperation

  • Offered for Year: 2016/17
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Gilbert Roberts
  • Owning School: Psychology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



The aims of this module are:
to show how cooperation is a fundamental aspect of human nature;
to show how disciplines ranging from economics to evolutionary psychology can contribute to understanding cooperation;
to provide an understanding of how and why individuals cooperate with each other;
to use cooperation as a model for understanding the roles of mechanistic and functional explanations of behaviour;
and to show how an understanding of cooperation has important applications in relationships ranging from the interpersonal to the international

Original Summary:
Co-operation is a fundamental aspect of human nature. This course brings together approaches from disciplines ranging from economics to evolutionary psychology to explain how and why individuals co-operate with each other. The problem of altruism – why individuals might do things that are costly to themselves but benefit others – is addressed from both social psychology and evolutionary perspectives. The behavioural ecology of co-operation in other animals is drawn on to show the evolutionary origins of co-operation in humans. The course treats co-operation as a model for understanding the roles of mechanistic and functional explanations of behaviour, as well as the roles of theoretical and empirical approaches. Co-operation is a subject of intense current interest, and the course provides a close link between research and teaching by drawing on the latest advances, including work carried out in the department. It is shown how an understanding of cooperation has important applications in relationships ranging from the interpersonal to the international.

Outline Of Syllabus

1.       The ways in which we cooperate: altruism, social exchange, alliances; philosophical background
2.       The social psychology of cooperation
3.       Economic and evolutionary approaches to cooperation
4.       Kinship – the role of relatedness in cooperation
5.       ‘I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine’ - Reciprocal altruism, social exchange and Tit for Tat
6.       Cognitive, hormonal and neural aspects of cooperation
7.       The ‘tragedy of the commons’ – the problems with cooperation in groups
8.       ‘Help and thou shalt be helped’ – indirect reciprocity and the benefits of a cooperative reputation
9.       Interdependence
10.       Trust, fairness, punishment
11.       Ethical and moral dimensions; norms and the role of culture
12.       Review and perspectives

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

At the end of this module the student should:
have an appreciation of the fundamental role of cooperation in human societies;
be familiar with the range of ways in which individuals cooperate, and the factors affecting how and why they do so;
have a better understanding of both functional and mechanistic explanations of cooperative behaviour;
be knowledgeable about debates concerning the roles of evolution and of culture;
and have an awareness of the ethical and moral dimensions to cooperative behaviour.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Ability to critically appraise research in a range of disciplines, including the roles of theories, models, observations and experiments in science.

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Assessed
    • Data Synthesis : Assessed
    • Numeracy : Present
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Present
      • Use Of Computer Applications : Present
  • Self Management
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Present
      • Decision Making : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Initiative : Present
      • Problem Solving : Present
      • Adaptability : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Present
      • Interpersonal : Present
      • Written Other : Assessed
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present
      • Relationship Building : Present
      • Peer Assessment Review : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading361:0036:00N/A
Guided Independent StudySkills practice12:002:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching51:005:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study451:0045:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are used as the primary and most effective mode of imparting the core knowledge of the module. Seminars provide the opportunity for students to carry out background reading on selected in-depth topics and to prepare short presentations. The practical gives hands-on experience with the experimental and computer-based methods used in research. The private study is essential for in depth review of knowledge imparted during lectures.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1202A100Unseen comprising 2 essay questions from a choice of 4
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The written examination is used to assess knowledge, independent learning and understanding of material relevant to the module, the ability to integrate this material and to communicate it clearly, as well as the ability for critical thought and originality of approach.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Note: The Module Catalogue now reflects module information relating to academic year 16/17. Please contact your School Office if you require module information for a previous academic year.

Disclaimer: The University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver modules in accordance with the descriptions set out in this catalogue. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, however, the University reserves the right to introduce changes to the information given including the addition, withdrawal or restructuring of modules if it considers such action to be necessary.