Module code: PSYM171

Module Overview

This module covers the core psychology discipline of individual differences: the many and varied psychological ways in which humans differ from one another. Specifically, we will discuss and critically evaluate key issues of classic and contemporary significance in the areas of personality, intelligence and psychopathology, synthesising them all together to form a broader understanding of the concept of individual differences as understood by contemporary psychologists. We will also use these principles to better understand the individual differences present in students’ own lives. You will demonstrate your breadth of knowledge in a multiple-choice exam. You will prepare and deliver a poster presentation that analyses a case study using principles of individual differences, developing and assessing your skills in applying principles, critical thinking, and visual and oral communication.

Module provider

SOL - Psychology

Module Leader

HEPPER Erica (Psychology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 105

Seminar Hours: 6

Guided Learning: 33

Captured Content: 6

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content is as follows.
First, we will discuss classic historical and more advanced issues in personality (e.g., trait models, evolutionary theories, interpersonal relationships, the Dark Triad).
We will then discuss conceptual and theoretical issues, practical applications, and controversies about intelligence (e.g., history, theories, measurement, cultural issues, and emotional intelligence).
Third, we will address the disordered end of these individual differences by discussing classification, conceptual and theoretical accounts, and clinical treatment of key issues in psychopathology (e.g., personality disorders, anxiety disorders, and psychosis).
Finally, we will synthesise each of these themes together to give a wider perspective on individual differences and how they relate to each other. 
Online seminars will provide an opportunity to discuss practical applications and contemporary issues and to prepare for assessments.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination Online MCQ Exam (1 Hour) 30
Coursework Case Study Poster Presentation 70

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate each of the learning outcomes.
Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

You will complete an online MCQ exam to demonstrate your breadth of understanding of the module topics.
You will be asked to create an academic poster that analyses a provided case study using the theories and concepts covered in the module, including one or more mental health disorders. The poster will require you to read and critically evaluate a relevant research and to analyse the links and overlaps between personality and psychopathology. You will be asked to present your poster as an audio recording and submit both the poster and recorded audio.

Support and formative feedback will be provided in class, tutorial, via Edx Canvas, and in student drop-in hours. Deadline will be the middle of the semester.

Justification for Assessment Methods
The MCQ exam assesses the extent to which you have met Module Learning Outcomes 1 and 2 (as the questions will include critical evaluation components) and 5 (as some questions will synthesise across topics).
The poster assesses the extent to which you have met Module Learning Outcomes 1-5. It will also help you to develop resourcefulness, resilience (e.g., in time management) and understanding of one or more chosen mental health issues, as well as to communicate in written, visual and oral means. The skills are also required in many graduate jobs or advanced postgraduate training in psychology.

Formative assessment and feedback
You will participate in regular interactive discussions within synchronous sessions and the Discussion Forum that involve group-level or individual formative feedback (e.g., on your understanding of a topic or their ability to critically evaluate a theory).
Formative feedback will be provided weekly via online quizzes.

Module aims

  • Consider in depth individual differences between people, in several aspects of intrapersonal and interpersonal functioning: classic and advanced issues in personality, contemporary issues in intelligence, and theoretical accounts and clinical treatment of key issues in psychopathology.
  • Chart conceptual and historical issues in the psychological study of personality, intelligence and psychopathology, including appreciation of different theoretical perspectives and their inter-relations.
  • Extend your understanding of the whole spectrum of individual differences and integrate areas of psychology together that are often studied separately.
  • Encourage critical thinking about the theories and evidence that we will discuss. In each aspect of individual differences we will discuss multiple perspectives critically
  • Provide a holistic understanding by synthesising different perspectives and appreciating the complexities of differences between people.
  • Provide familiarity with some relevant methodological issues and academic skills that will be useful across many areas of Psychology (e.g., questionnaire measures, reliability, validity, appropriate use of generative AI).

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Systematically 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 Apply issues in personality, intelligence, and psychopathology to everyday life and discuss their implications for practical settings. CPT
004 Communicate information and ideas in a clear professional manner using written, visual and oral modalities. 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:

  • Provide you with core information about theories, concepts and research evidence increasing understanding of the topic areas in a supportive and linked-up manner.

  • Provide you with the opportunity to develop your own skills of applying theory to practice (LO3), critically evaluating theories and evidence (LO2) and synthesising concepts (LO5) by enacting yourself and gaining feedback in a supportive, interactive environment.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Recorded lectures delivering core content in digestible chunks, to develop your understanding and modelling critical evaluation of theories and evidence (LO1-2). Some sessions have a focus on practical application (LO3) and model links across topics (LO5).

  • Synchronous online seminars that include interactive discussions about the theories/issues introduced in lectures and reading. These will enable you to gain formative feedback on your understanding (LO1), gain hands-on experience of critically analysing and applying topics (LO2-3), communicate with peers (LO4), and, later on, to discuss links across topics (LO5).

  • Synchronous online seminars that provide support and formative feedback on the coursework. These will also help you to develop skills in critically evaluating and synthesising research findings and applying theory to case studies (LO2, 3).

  • Guided learning activities each week designed to develop your skills in locating, reading and critically analysing journal articles; applying concepts in the real world; identifying research questions; and preparing for coursework (LO2, 3, 4).

  • Formative quizzes available weekly to support your understanding of topics and provide formative feedback (LO1).

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

The Edx Canvas will be a key resource for supplementary materials, links, and a dedicated Discussion Board.

Getting familiar with the VLE will help you further 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: PSYM171

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 you to develop knowledge, skills and capabilities in the following areas:

Global and cultural capabilities: The module will include discussion of theory and research concerning cultural influences on key topics.

Digital capabilities: The coursework poster assignment will require you to work in software such as PowerPoint and integrate recorded audio content, developing you digital skills in applications that are commonly used in graduate employment.

Employability: Through the coursework poster assignment, you will further develop your skills in reading and thinking critically about research, applying theory to practice, and written, visual and oral communication. All of these are key skills required in many graduate jobs or further postgraduate study/training.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Psychology (Online) MSc(CORE) 1 Core Each unit of assessment must be passed at 50% 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.