Scrabble tiles spelling out social media alongside a smartphone with the Facebook logo on its screen

At college and started your summer holidays yet? If you've got any free time to spare and want to get ahead what about taking some online social science courses to help you understand what you might be taught at university, the way in which you are taught at university, and whether you actually enjoy it and want to go to uni! It will also give something to talk about on your UCAS form and when you go to interviews. Using our pick of social sciences courses learn why we use social media, how the mind works and the ins and out of the business of football. 

Forensic Psychology: Witness Investigation

Despite advances in forensic science, eyewitness testimony remains a critical component of criminal investigations. Psychological research has revealed the dangers of relying on evidence gained from an eyewitness and also how careful the police need to be when questioning witnesses. Using videos of real witnesses and from cameras that go behind the scenes of a police investigation, this course explores the psychology of eyewitness testimony. You will get the chance to test your own cognitive skills and to see whether your powers of investigation are as good as a crack squad of police officers, as you try to solve a crime using nothing but evidence from eyewitnesses. 

Why We Post: the Anthropology of Social Media 

This course is based on the work of nine anthropologists who each spent 15 months in fieldsites in Brazil, Chile, industrial and rural China, England, India, Italy, Trinidad and Turkey. The course offers a new definition of social media which concentrates on the content posted, not just the capabilities of platforms. It examines the increasing importance of images in communication and the reasons why people post memes, selfies and photographs. You will explore the impact of social media on a wide range of topics including politics, education, gender, commerce, privacy and equality. You will come to understand how the consequences of social media vary from region to region. 

Making Sense of Data in the Media

Increasingly, we’re bombarded with all sorts of data about how society is changing: opinion poll trends; migration data; economic results; government debt levels; and MPs’ expenses claims. More often than not, the data are presented to bolster a (sometimes contentious) claim, so the ability to read such information with confidence is an increasingly important skill for both modern citizens and those studying the social sciences.

This course looks at ways of cutting through the confusion to decide what numbers reveal, and when and why they (sometimes deliberately) mislead. It asks: how do we make sense of all these numbers?; how can we decide which ones to trust and which to doubt?; and how do we know which might reveal important trends and which are less dramatic than they sound?

By the end of the course, you will have improved your data literacy skills; developed an understanding of how social statistics are created and used; and become a more critical consumer and user of social and economic data. It will be particularly useful to first-year undergraduate students studying social science, as well as school leavers who are thinking about taking a social science or quantitative social science degree.

The Mind is Flat: the Shocking Shallowness of Human Psychology

Our everyday conception of how our minds work is profoundly misleading. We are victims of an ‘illusion of mental depth’ - we imagine that our thoughts and behaviours arise from hidden motives and beliefs, and that we can understand ourselves by somehow uncovering these hidden forces, whether through therapy, lab experiments or brain scanning. This course will suggest that this conception is not entirely correct, that we’re inventing these motives and beliefs at the very moment of decision.

Each week this course starts with a paradox, some mystifying aspect of human behaviour, before looking at insights into it, gained over decades of psychological and behavioural research. You’ll have a chance to try out a classic psychological experiment online.

Some of the really exciting things you’ll be looking at are: why we take risks and why we fear them; how people succeed or fail to work with other people successfully; how our behaviour, governed by a plethora of complicated psychological forces, makes sense at all; the theory that we are creating an improvised character and trying to stay in our role; and how we can make society more coherent and create a better world. 

What is a Mind?

This course will bring together learners and practitioners interested in how the mind works. It aims to build bridges between traditionally antagonistic approaches to understanding the mind.

What is a mind? is a question has perplexed philosophers, scientists, historians and ordinary people across time and cultures. While advances in the medical understanding of how the brain functions can shed light on neurological functions and disorders, the essential question of what the mind is speaks to a different problem. This problem cannot be answered by a purely scientific understanding of the brain, nor by a purely philosophical or psychological approach. Many disciplines have attempted to address the question’, resulting in multiple and sometimes antithetical answers.

This course adopts a multidisciplinary approach. You'll discover perspectives from a range of disciplines and explore four specific aspects of the mind - subjectivity, intentionality, consciousness and agency. Together, these will help you think about the fundamental questions: what it is to be a mind, why we have a mind and what it feels like to have a mind.

Football: More than a Game

At the beginning of the twentieth century, football was the most popular game in the western world and has since grown to become a global spectacle. From street soccer to multi-million dollar transfers, from the beaches of Brazil to the fight against poverty and inequality in Africa, this course looks beyond the pitch, to explore football’s role in society today.

This course addresses several important questions, as you'll be introduced to different major aspects of the sport: why is the history of football important?; is football played in every country in the world? Is it really global?; where are the great clubs and rivalries?; who are the champions of the world?; can football act as a language that helps countries talk to each other?; where are the richest clubs and leagues?

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