BSc Psychology

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Foundations in Mental Health & Distress

Unit code PSYC11412
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Division of Psychology and Mental Health
Available as a free choice unit? No


The course material will be delivered via lectures (with associated e-learning resources) and will be supported with 4 lab-based sessions. 



This unit aims to:

·         Build a rounded understanding of mental health and distress through appraisal of biological, psychological and social factors

·         Critically evaluate the validity of a medical model approach to classification and treatment of mental distress

·         Provide an introduction to evidence-based treatment modalities and their therapeutic targets in the management of mental distress

·         Develop key transferable skills in critical and analytical thinking, reflectivity, writing skills, communication and personal development.


Teaching and learning methods

This course is delivered via 12 x 1.5 hour lectures and 4 x 1hr laboratory classes.

Teaching will be facilitated by a mixture of formal lectures, case studies, videos, task engagement (e.g. piloting of mental health questionnaires and assessments), and small group discussions.

E-learning provision: Lecture content, supplementary reading and resources, and a monitored discussion board will be provided via Blackboard.


Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the historical and philosophical underpinnings of mental health and distress
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of methods used in the assessment and classification of mental health and distress
  • Describe key factors across the bio-psycho-social spectrum involved in the genesis and maintenance of mental distress
  • Describe the nature of interaction between social, psychological and biological factors in bringing about mental distress
  • Demonstrate an understanding and knowledge of different treatment modalities (e.g. pharmacotherapies, psychotherapies) used to alleviate mental distress 

Intellectual skills

  • Critically evaluate dominant medical model approaches to classification and treatment of mental distress
  • Consider novels ways through which psychological, social and biological factors may interact to influence mental health

Practical skills

  • Appraise empirical data
  • Appreciate the strengths and limitations of methods used to probe mental distress
  • Gain understanding of methodologies used to determine the effectiveness of mental health interventions
  • Conduct experimental laboratory work using psychological methods
  • Present experimental work in writing, conforming to APA standards

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Present information, ideas and arguments in written form with due regard to the target audience and discipline conventions
  • Sustain and develop cogent and coherent argument
  • Work in a group to solve problems

Assessment methods

A 1500 word laboratory report worth 60% and a one hour multiple choice exam worth 40%

Feedback methods


Recommended reading

Key selected chapters from “Psychology, Mental Health and Distress” Cromby, Harper & Reavey (eds)

Additional digitised chapters, video links, podcasts and contemporary expert-led articles will also be made available on blackboard


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 18
Practical classes & workshops 4
Independent study hours
Independent study 78

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Filippo Varese Unit coordinator

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