Module code: PSY1023

Module Overview

This module aims to introduces students to the main psychological approaches to personality, focusing on key theorists and the empirical evidence testing each theory and provide the foundation for understanding how personality has been structured and formulated through the history of psychology. 


In this module, we will focus on the different theories of personality, include psychodynamic, learning, cognitive, social cognitive, biological and trait approaches to personality. We will cover relevant topics in the history of personality theory, and consider the conceptual issues that cause them to differ. We will also consider the historical development of these theories, considering the social and academic issues that influenced their formation. 

Workshops on personality research will provide you with an understanding and hand on experience with personality tools to measure different aspects of personality, as well as how these are analyzed. 

Students will develop their writen communication and evaluation skills by producing an essay. Tutorial sessions will aid your development of academic skills, instructing students on how to develop a critical argument of the research. This provides a foundational opportunity in academic writing, as this module is one of the first written assessments within the BSc program. Feedback is provided on how to continue to develop academic writing skills throughout the rest of the program. Quizzes and activities are provided to allow students to consolidate and review their knowledge of the module. 

Module provider


Module Leader

JAYES Lewis (Psychology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 87

Lecture Hours: 22

Seminar Hours: 4

Tutorial Hours: 4

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 22

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Each week, we will discuss one key theoretical approach to personality. We will also consider practical issues in studying, measuring, and applying personality, and synthesise the different theories in relation to each other and different areas of psychology.

Indicative content include:

  • Introduction to personality and the nature-nurture debate

  • Freud and psychoanalytic approaches to personality

  • Humanistic personality theories

  • Learning personality theories

  • Social cognitive personality theories

  • Cognitive personality theories

  • Trait approaches to personality

  • Biological personality theories

  • Methods of researching and assessing personality

  • Revision and synthesis

Tutorial 1: Academic skills - essay preparation

Tutorial 2: Academic skills - critically evaluating research articles

Workshop 1: Conducting and analyzing a personality research study

Workshop 2 - Communicating personality research findings

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate that they have met the learning outcomes of the module successfully, in both an essay and exam, as well as learn how to critically discuss empirical evidence in an essay format. As the first essay of the psychology UG program, this learning opportunity is scaffolded to support future development and encourage independence and resilience in future assessments, as students begin their learning journey in higher education. 

Both assessments allow students to develop their digital literacy skills, including: their ability to critically engage with academic literature and their ability to critically review the literature and to assess the quality and quantity of evidence in personality psychology. The assessments will also allow students to demonstrate key employability skills, specifically their ability to present clear, coherent and concise written arguments to an audience.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

An essay - encourages students to consider key aspects of writing, includes critical evaluation of research/theory as well as argument construction. Students will consider one critical historical issues in personality psychology, providing an in depth argument 

Online exam (1 hour in 4) with MCQs and a short answer question - this provides students with the opportunity to consider how to apply personality theory to the real world and, critically, how personality theory can be used to predict/explain human behaviour. 


Formative assessment

A mid-semester and end of semester quiz takes place - to consolidate learning and allow students to target areas for future revision. 


Feedback ·

Prior to the assessments, time will be spent discussing the assignment and feedback process.

The marking scheme will be specified, expectations discussed and templates or examples provided, in order to facilitate self-efficacy.

Verbal feedback will be given in the tutorials through interactive quizzes and discussions

Verbal feedback during tutorials and workshops by the lecturer and peers

Written feedback on essay and one-to-one feedback, as requested

Module aims

  • Develop the critical understanding of advantages and disadvantages of major research methods used in personality psychology
  • Provide students with fundamental knowledge of the main approaches and key figures within psychological history and their contribution to how personality theory has developed over the history of psychology
  • Provide students with opportunities to consider critically personality theory from a past to present perspective, covering the key aspects of the theory and the ways in which the concepts have been developed, tested and applied, right up to the present day.
  • Give students the skills to critically evaluate different theories in personality theory, using evidence-based reasoning and by critically comparing theories for similarities and differences
  • Provide students with opportunities to be critical and effective communicators, through written assessments and group work
  • Provide an introduction to research methods in personality psychology and develop research ability through hands-on and interactive sessions

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate an understanding of how different theorists view personality and its development KC
002 Demonstrate the ability to explain key influences on the development of classic theories in personality psychology KC
003 Relate the concepts of personality theories to contemporary psychology and everyday life KCT
004 Demonstrate the ability to critically assess and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of personality theories and research methods KCT
005 Demonstrate key transferable skills, such as communication, by illustrating the ability synthesise theories of personality to illustrate their different perspectives on human nature and influences on behaviour CP

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Give students familiarity with the conceptualizations of personality across a range of different approaches

Provide students with the foundational knowledge to enable them to describe key theories of personality

Provide students with the resourcefulness to critically discuss the implications of key findings across personality psychology

Enable students to develop the knowledge, skills and critical thinking required to be able to engage with personality theory and apply this real life settings


As such this module is made up of weekly lectures, coursework tutorials, methods/analysis workshops and independent study.

Lectures - main source of content delivery

Tutorials: students will engage with activities designed to enhance key academic and transferable skills, particularly around written communication and critical evaluation

Workshops: students will deepen their critical understanding of personality research by engaging in data collection and analysis and considering how this information can be communicated to wider audiences

The online Virtual Learning Environment, SurreyLearn, will be a key resource for supplementary materials, links, and a dedicated Discussion Board (

Interactive quizzes in class and practice questions on SurreyLearn and during lectures will provide formative feedback on students’ progress. 

Students are encouraged to be active participants in lectures, tutorials and workshops, via interactive blackboards and group discussion, in order to become informed, confident, resourceful learners. 

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: PSY1023

Other information

The School of Psychology is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, DigitalCapabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas:

Employability: The module provides core knowledge of personality psychology and the fundamentals of psychometric research methods. An understanding of questionnaires and questionnaire design can be applied to many fields. Both assessments develop student's written communication skills. The essay assessment develops the ability to critically evaluate differing viewpoints and develop an evidence-based, nuanced viewpoint. The exam encourages students to consider how theoretical psychological knowledge can be applied to the real world. The development of scientific understanding, critical thinking and evaluation of research can be applied across many fields and careers. 

Digital Capabilities: As with all modules, students are expected to engage with online material and resources via SurreyLearn, and other digital platforms. Students will also experience the nature of personality datasets, and consider how they are constructed, analyzed and communicated to audiences. Students are provided with multiple opportunities to develop their digital literacy, including evaluating different psychological theories, articles, their validity and practical use. Digital methods of data collection (e.g. 'big' data, online data collection and the increasing use of social media) and  are discussed throughout module where relevant.

Global and Cultural Capabilities: Students will engage critically with exemplars of empirical research and reflect on inclusivity of the methods employed and considerations of diversity and equality in the populations studied. The historical and cultural influences of different historical theories are considered, and evaluated to consider their influence on theories, and particularly whether this led to reductionism or exclusion in historical personality theories. Overall, students are encouraged to consider how differing perspectives (historical or otherwise) can affect the development of personality theory.

Resourcefulness and Resilience: The learning, teaching and assessment strategy for this module has been designed to encourage active participation, peer support and reflective engagement. During workshops, students will work in small groups to complete data analysis and write up. In tutorials, students will share their thoughts on different empirical research papers, and examples of essay writing. Formative assessment, and the use of quizzes/interactive activities throughout lectures provide students with the chance to have a voice and share their opinion, as well as learn from experience, to build confidence and self-efficacy 

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Psychology BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% 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 2024/5 academic year.