Module code: PSYM140

Module Overview

Personality traits have traditionally been conceptualised as fixed, stable characteristics, however, in recent years this conceptualisation has given way to an appreciation that many aspects of personality can and do change throughout our lives. This module will draw on a life course developmental perspective to examine questions such as (i) How does our personality affect our life in terms of health and success? (ii) What are the typical patterns of personality change throughout the life course? (iii) What life events and experiences change our personalities? (iv) Can we use interventions to change our personalities? This module will allow you to consider debates in the literature, and engage critically with the material.

Module provider


Module Leader

NG-KNIGHT Terry (Psychology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

JACs code: C870

Module cap (Maximum number of students): 10

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:
• The life course developmental approach.
• How does our personality influence our lives?
• Are personality traits themselves a developmental phenomenon? i.e., Do they develop?
• Infant temperament – what is the evidence for a biological/genetic basis of personality?
• What are the environmental influences on personality?
• Self-control/regulation and emotion regulation – How does it develop?
• Personality and ageing.
• Personality and transition periods (e.g. the transition to adulthood).
• Personality and education.
• Measuring personality.

Sessions will involve lectures and group presentation and discussion of papers from the literature

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Coursework, 2,000 words 50
Examination Exam, one hour 50

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding and knowledge of personality and development, including critical analysis and interpretation of research studies.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:
• Exam – a one-hour unseen exam will assess your knowledge and critical engagement with the module content (learning outcomes 1, 2, 3).
• Coursework (2,000 words) – you will be required to develop a research proposal, drawing on your critical analysis of existing research (learning outcomes 1, 2, 3).

Formative assessment
During each lecture there will be a group presentation on a relevant paper. Students will be assigned to a group, the aim is to stimulate class debate and discussion.

Students will receive verbal feedback during class discussions and presentations.

Module aims

  • Increase understanding of personality and developmental theory
  • Provide an overview of perspectives that view personality as a developmental concept (rather than fixed)
  • Provide an understanding of how personality changes throughout the life course
  • To explore and critique evidence on the factors that affect personality development
  • Provide an understanding of the role personality plays in life outcomes and development
  • Improve presentation skills
  • Improve statistical literacy via exposure to a range of research designs used in developmental and personality psychology
  • Understand the development and validation of personality measures (including statistical analysis)

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Critically analyse and summarise research articles on personality and development CT
002 Discuss causes of personality stability and change CK
003 Interpret results from a range of complex research studies CKT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 128

Lecture Hours: 22

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:
• Introduce new concepts and increase students’ knowledge
• Provide students with opportunities to critically engage with existing research
• Provide opportunities for feedback on students’ interpretation and critical analysis

The learning and teaching methods include:

• Lectures/seminars (2 hours per week for 11 weeks) – typically consisting of one-hour lectures and one-hour of presentation and discussions (subject to some variation)

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: PSYM140

Other information

This module has a capped number and may not be available to ERASMUS and other international exchange students. Please check with the International Engagement Office email:


Reading list Essential reading Roberts, B. W., & Mroczek, D. (2008). Personality trait change in adulthood. Current directions in psychological science, 17(1), 31-35. Caspi, A., Roberts, B. W., & Shiner, R. L. (2005). Personality development: Stability and change. Annu. Rev. Psychol., 56, 453-484. Roberts, B. W., & Wood, D. (2006). Personality Development in the Context of the Neo-Socioanalytic Model of Personality. Roberts, B. W., Kuncel, N. R., Shiner, R., Caspi, A., & Goldberg, L. R. (2007). The power of personality: The comparative validity of personality traits, socioeconomic status, and cognitive ability for predicting important life outcomes. Perspectives on Psychological science, 2(4), 313-345. Moffitt, T. E., Arseneault, L., Belsky, D., Dickson, N., Hancox, R. J., Harrington, H., ... & Sears, M. R. (2011). A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(7), 2693-2698. Recommended reading McAdams, D. P. (2015). The art and science of personality development. New York, NY, US: Guilford Press. Background reading N/A.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Social Psychology MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2021/2 academic year.