Module code: PSY2020

Module Overview

This module covers key issues of contemporary significance in the areas of personality, intelligence and psychopathology.

Module provider


Module Leader

PLUESS Michael (Psychology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 88

Lecture Hours: 22

Tutorial Hours: 5

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 24

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

PSY1023 (Classics in Personality Theory). 

Module content

Indicative content is as follows.

First, we will discuss more advanced issues in personality (e.g., evolutionary theories, interpersonal relationships, the Dark Triad), building on knowledge from PSY1023 Classics in Personality Theory.

We will then discuss theoretical issues, practical applications, and controversies about intelligence (e.g., theories, measurement, cultural issues, and emotional intelligence).

Finally, we will address the disordered end of these individual differences by discussing classification, theoretical accounts, and clinical treatment of key issues in psychopathology (e.g., personality disorders, anxiety disorders, and psychosis).

Tutorials will provide an opportunity to discuss practical applications and contemporary issues and to prepare for assessments.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework ESSAY (4 PAGES) 50
Examination Online ONLINE EXAM (1HR WITHIN 4HR WINDOW, 4 PAGES) 50

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate each of the learning outcomes.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:


You will be asked to write an independent essay critically evaluating the usefulness of personality trait models in understanding a real world problem (chosen from a list provided). Support and formative feedback will be provided in class, tutorial, via SurreyLearn, and in office hours. Deadline will be approximately midway through the semester.


You will be asked to answer 1 essay question from a choice of 4 options, which will draw on synthesising knowledge from more than one topic. Support will be provided in a revision lecture and tutorial.


Formative feedback:

Students will have the opportunity for verbal formative feedback on their coursework essay progress and argument/thesis statement in a tutorial session. Students will have the opportunity for formative feedback on their understanding and synthesis across topics in the revision tutorial in order to help prepare for the exam.


Justification for Assessment Methods

The coursework essay assesses the extent to which you have met Module Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3 and 4. It will also help you to develop resourcefulness, resilience (e.g., in time management) and understanding of a chosen global and cultural issue. The skills are also required in many graduate jobs or postgraduate courses.

Examinations will assess Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3  and 5.

Module aims

  • This module aims to consider in depth individual differences between people, in several aspects of intrapersonal and interpersonal functioning: advanced issues in personality, contemporary issues in intelligence, and theoretical accounts and clinical treatment of key issues in psychopathology. Overall, this module aims to extend students¿ understanding of the whole spectrum of individual differences and integrate areas of psychology together that are often studied separately. Throughout, students are encouraged to participate actively in classes and think critically about the theories and evidence that we will discuss. Preparation for the coursework assessment aims to develop students¿ critical thinking, literature searching strategies using research databases, ability to synthesise evidence, and skills in developing and presenting a written argument. All of these skills are important in graduate level employment.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Explain key theoretical accounts of individual differences in personality, intelligence, and selected types of psychopathology K
002 Critically evaluate these theoretical perspectives and the empirical evidence that tests them CP
003 Discuss the implications of issues in personality, intelligence, and psychopathology for everyday life and practical settings CPT
004 Construct and present a clear, reasoned argument based on current theory and evidence CP
005 Synthesise and link different perspectives to provide a broader view on understanding the nature of individual differences 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 engage students with learning about the state of the field as well as equipping them to contribute to the field themselves. 

The learning and teaching methods include

  • Weekly lectures including interactive discussion (2 hours x 11 weeks) – these will develop students’ understanding in order to be able to explain and critically evaluate theories and evidence (LO 1-2) and some weeks have a focus on practical application (LO3). As the weeks progress the lectures will model synthesis across topics (LO 5). Students are expected to attend and engage with lectures to ensure they have the opportunity to develop these skills.

  • Interactive tutorials designed to:

  1. aid coursework preparation and give formative feedback – these will also help students to develop skills in critically evaluating and synthesising research findings and developing an argument (LO2, 4).

  2. discuss applications of psychopathology in clinical case formulation – this helps students to attain LO 3.

  3. aid synthesis across the whole module (LO5) and exam preparation

  • Guided learning questions and videos/activities to consider each week

  • Independent study. Students are expected to read one textbook chapter or article each week, consolidate notes after lectures, and undertake assessment preparation in independent study time

SurreyLearn will be a key resource for supplementary materials, links, and a dedicated Discussion Board. Using SurreyLearn will help students develop digital capabilities.

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: PSY2020

Other information

Surrey's Curriculum Framework is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, 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:


Resourcefulness and resilience:

Students will be encouraged to engage actively in small group activities in tutorials and discussions in lectures, developing their confidence in talking about academic work. The coursework deadline in the middle of the semester encourages students to develop time management skills and resilience.


Global and cultural capabilities:

The module will include discussion of theory and research concerning cultural influences on key topics. The coursework will enhance students’ understanding about a chosen ‘real world problem,’ which include key challenges facing global society to varying extents (e.g., environmental behaviour, loneliness, obesity).



Through the coursework assignment, students will develop their skills in searching the literature, reading and thinking critically about research, synthesising evidence, forming an argument, and written communication. All of these are key skills required in many graduate jobs or postgraduate courses.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Psychology BSc (Hons)(CORE) 2 Core Each unit of assessment must be passed at 40% 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 2025/6 academic year.