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Psychological literacy: A compendium of practice

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Psychological literacy, and the related concept of psychologically literate citizenship, are gaining in importance within the psychology community in the UK higher education sector. The increased interest in these topics was in part driven by changes to the British Psychological Society (BPS) accreditation criteria for undergraduate psychology programmes (2014), which state that the skills acquired through the study of psychology at undergraduate level: “represent a coherent set of knowledge, skills and values that underpin students’ psychological literacy and which enable them to apply psychology to real life contexts. These scientific, critical thinking and ethical skills encapsulate the contributions a psychology graduate can make to the workplace and to society more generally”. In response to this new emphasis on psychological literacy, the HEA produced some introductory resources (Mair, Taylor & Hulme, 2013; Watt, 2013) for academic psychologists to provide guidance on the concept and to stimulate reflection on ways in which psychological literacy might be embedded within the undergraduate psychology curriculum in the UK. This Compendium does not aim to replicate existing resources outlining the scope of psychological literacy, but rather seeks to develop them via a practical approach. A recent study by Hulme and Kitching (in press), on behalf of the HEA and the BPS, confirmed that psychology educators are challenged by developing practical approaches to embedding psychological literacy within the curriculum, and to assessing it. This compendium is a response to this finding; it contains case studies from a variety of UK higher education providers, exemplifying the ways in which they have supported the psychologically literate development of their undergraduate students. It is hoped that the reader will be stimulated and inspired to both use these examples, to benefit from the experiences of others and to develop their own creative solutions to embedding psychological literacy within the curriculum.

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