Study people, projects and organisations from a psychological perspective.

Enhance your skills and confidence in project management by taking a reflective look at organisations. You’ll discover:

  • how organisations function
  • common problems they face, why, and how they cope with them
  • how organisations influence individual behaviour, and vice versa.

With insights from the fields of organisational psychology and organisational behaviour, you’ll improve your understanding of organisational structures and processes, and how these impact people and projects.

You’ll learn to make informed judgements about your behaviour and that of others, so you can more positively influence the effectiveness of projects and teams.

Who is this online course for?

This course is ideal for:

  • anyone looking to gain a better understanding of organisations and how they function
  • project managers, or anyone wishing to pursue a career in project management in any sector.

You do not have to hold a degree to join this course – you’re welcome to apply if you have relevant professional experience.

Build credits towards an accredited Masters degree

This online course is part of our accredited:

You can use the credits you earn on this short course towards this accredited MSc qualification.

What you’ll study

You’ll study the ways that structures, leadership practices, and culture affect what people do and how well they perform.

And you’ll consider these issues with respect to projects, project management, and the best structure for project teams.

You’ll cover the following five topics.


Introducing you to four different lenses you can use to analyse and understand organisations:

  • Human resource management (HRM)
  • Political
  • Structural
  • Symbolic

The Structural Frame

Covering theories of organisational structure, including:

  • groups and teams
  • leader-member exchange (LMX)
  • how formal and informal structures affect how managers interact with and lead people.

The HRM Frame

Examining theories of:

  • work motivation
  • job satisfaction
  • organisational commitment
  • the psychological contract.

The Symbolic Frame

Exploring theories and models of:

  • organisational culture
  • organisational change – including revolutionary change (after a major crisis), and continuous change.

The Political Frame

Looking at:

  • power and politics in organisations
  • conflict resolution styles and practices
  • people-oriented and problem-oriented methods for conflict resolution.

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to…

  • Apply a range of models and frameworks to the analysis of organisations and social situations.
  • Analyse individual and group behaviour in the workplace.
  • Develop more effective solutions by considering an organisation’s structure, HR systems, leadership practices, culture and politics.
  • Reflect on and change your own behaviour within an organisation and project team.
  • Develop a positive psychological contract with colleagues working with and for you on projects.
  • Apply new project management methods in a work environment.
  • Present more clearly, confidently and concisely in written reports and oral presentations.
  • Approach problems holistically.

Why study organisational psychology online with the University of Aberdeen?

Earn as you learn

We fit around full-time work, so you can earn qualifications while you keep earning a salary.

You’re in expert hands

We’ve been delivering online and distance learning for decades.

20% alumni discount

University of Aberdeen alumni get 20% off this online course.

How you’ll study

Online learning

Our distance-learning Organisations and People course is delivered flexibly, 100% online. You can study with us anywhere in the world and manage your study hours to suit you.

Your teaching

Part of our accredited MSc in Project Management, this course is taught at Masters level.

Your teaching is delivered through MyAberdeen, our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It holds all the materials, tools and support you’ll need in your studies. Take a look around MyAberdeen.

You can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and laptop, 24 hours a day. You’ll find a range of resources at your fingertips, including:

  • online study tasks and quizzes
  • videos
  • reading materials
  • case studies
  • discussion boards with colleagues and tutors
  • the online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library.

With plenty of discussion tasks throughout, we emphasise participation and interaction in this course. We encourage you to share your ideas and experience, so you can learn from your peers.

Your tutor

You’ll learn from organisational psychologist Dr Calvin Burns, an experienced university lecturer who has worked as a safety leadership and management consultant.

All your assessments for this course will take place online.

Developmental assessment

You’ll have lots of opportunities to get developmental feedback and check your learning throughout the course.

For each topic, you’ll:

  • complete online multiple-choice quiz questions, and
  • make online discussion postings about a case study.

These developmental quizzes and discussion postings do not count towards your final course grade.

Formal assessment

You’ll have two online, open-book, timed tests. Both will be based on a short case study. Each is worth 50% of your total course grade.

  • Test 1: short-answer questions about the value of the reframing approach, and leadership.
  • Test 2: short-answer questions about a reframing analysis (structure, HR, culture, politics) of an organisational / project-based situation.

The course totals approximately 150 hours of study and assessment time. That’s around 10 – 15 hours per week.

This is an indicative guide to the time required for a typical student at this level to achieve the learning outcomes. This includes time for independent study, as well as teaching and assessments.

You can largely set your own study hours each week to cover the materials. MyAberdeen is available 24/7, so you can log in and study when it suits you.

Activities at fixed times

There may be some activities scheduled for fixed times. This could include coursework and assessments with deadlines, or online meetings with your tutor. Otherwise, you can access and work through the course at your convenience.

Our first-class support structure will ensure that you aren’t alone in your studies. You’ll have contact with your coordinator via email, MyAberdeen and Microsoft Teams. You can use social media and discussion boards to chat with your fellow students too.

We provide a wide range of services to support you in your studies and beyond:

Wherever you are in the world, you’ll feel part of our very special Aberdeen learning community.

Your course coordinators

Dr Calvin Burns

Calvin is an Industrial-Organisational Psychologist. He’s an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society who works as a safety leadership and management consultant. Calvin specialises in the psychology of risk and trust, including safety culture in high-hazard organisations.

View Calvin’s LinkedIn profile

John Cavanagh

John is the Course Coordinator. He is a Senior Lecturer with 20 years’ experience in the petrochemical and aromatics industries. A former process engineer with ICI, John has extensive technical and business project management experience.

Where this will take you

Towards a Masters

You’ll earn 15 credits at Masters level (SCQF Level 11) with this course. You can use these credits towards our:

Accredited Masters in Project Management

Accredited by the Association for Project Management (APM).

Delivered online, part-time.

Also available to study to Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits) or Postgraduate Certificate level (60 credits).

View MSc Project Management


This course will help you move into project team management roles with confidence.

If you already work in a project-related environment, you’ll gain skills to move forward in your career, and expand your professional network.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Your employer or professional institute may recognise this course for CPD hours. Talk to your employer or institute to find out more.

Free career support

Access our free careers service while you study.

  • 1:1 appointments
  • CV checks
  • Interview prep
  • Job opportunities

See how our careers service can help you.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

We welcome students from all over the world.

This course has no formal entry requirements. You do not need to provide proof of your qualifications.

But you do need to check the entry guidance above to understand the level of teaching delivered, to decide if this course is right for you.

If you do not have qualifications from the UK, check the equivalent teaching level for your country.

Visa requirements

You do not need a student visa to study online with us.

English language requirements

Teaching is delivered in English.

You do not have to provide proof of your English language skills to join this course. But we want to make sure that you can use English well enough to study successfully.

Recommended level of English

For this course, we recommend the following level of English language proficiency.

These are our Postgraduate Standard requirements, and these are minimum scores.

IELTS Academic, IELTS UKVI Academic, and IELTS Online (not IELTS Indicator or IELTS General Training)

  • 6.5 overall
  • 5.5 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 6.0 for writing

TOEFL iBT and TOEFL iBT Home Edition

  • 90 overall
  • 17 for listening
  • 18 for reading
  • 20 for speaking
  • 21 for writing
  • TOEFL DI code is 0818

Cambridge English: B2 First, C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency

  • 176 overall
  • 162 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 169 for writing

LanguageCert Academic/LanguageCert Academic SELT

  • 70 overall
  • 60 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 65 for writing

LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator (Written and Spoken) – Online / In-centre

  • Overall High Pass
  • 33 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 38 for writing

Oxford ELLT Digital – English Language Level Test Online

  • 7.0 overall
  • 5.0 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 6.0 for writing

PTE Academic (online test not accepted)

  • 62 overall
  • 59 for listening, reading, speaking and writing

For full information about language requirements, see our English Language Requirements page.

You will need access to:

A computer (PC, laptop or Mac) operating on either:

  • Windows 10 or later
  • macOS 10.15 (Catalina) or later.

Most teaching materials are smartphone- and tablet-friendly. But we recommend a proper laptop or desktop for completing assignments comfortably.

Reliable internet access

We recommend:

  • a wired connection
  • a minimum download speed of 2 Mbps so you can take part fully in live sessions.

Speakers or headphones

  • We recommend a headset with built-in microphone and earphones if you’re likely to study in an environment with background noise.
  • A webcam is optional, but you may like to use one for some interactive sessions.


We’ll give you access to Office365 applications. This means you can use online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and install these programs on up to five personal devices.

If your course requires specialist software, we’ll provide you with access to this and a licence that lasts throughout your studies.

See our detailed IT requirements for more information.

When you study with us, you can expect a first-class support structure so that you’re never alone in your studies.

But learning online does mean you have to motivate yourself and manage your own time.

Your most important commitment will be time – the time to work through, reflect on and understand your teaching materials.

Before you start a course that involves a high degree of independent study, we recommend looking at the time you will be able to devote to your studies each week:

  • Be realistic
  • Create a weekly schedule as a guide

If you have any questions about studying online, get in touch with our friendly team. We’re here to help.

Fee payment

Your course fee needs to be paid in full before you start your course.

We accept payment via Visa Debit, Visa Credit and Mastercard.

Ways to save

You may be able to get help funding this course via:

  • discounts – if any discounts are available for this course, they’ll appear in the section below
  • employer sponsorship – we accept full and partial fee payments from sponsors.

Find out more about funding options.

Student card

All our students are entitled to a University of Aberdeen student card. This gives you access to a range of student discounts around the city and online.

This course has no formal entry requirements. You decide if it’s suitable for you.

The course is delivered at Masters level. At this level, you’d usually have:

  • relevant experience that supports this level of learning, or
  • a 2:2 (second-class) degree.

You do not need to have a degree to join this course – you’re welcome to apply if you have relevant professional experience.

Apply for this course

Start date
23 September 2024
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