Optional Courses

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The course offers advanced psychology students an opportunity to read, learn about, and discuss outstanding issues in the psychology of what makes people different.



To describe and evaluate research that addresses the issue of why some children have difficulty acquiring spoken language.


The course offers advanced psychology students an opportunity to read about, present and discuss outstanding issues in the psychology of class.


The sense of being conscious - both of ourselves and of the world around us - is a central aspect of our psychological makeup. It is well established, however, that a great deal of perceptual processing can be accomplished without awareness. This raises several questions that have been the focus of intense research in recent years:

This course builds on many of the ideas introduced in History and Theory of Psychology (without assuming students have taken this course), and applies them specifically to social psychology in order to understand how and why it became the kind of discipline it is today. The course also draws on the ‘turn to language’ and Foucault’s work to examine: the nature of social psychological knowledge, how it affects individuals’ lives, the role of language, and assumptions about self that underpin psychological theory and research.

In personality psychology, as elsewhere, many fundamental questions appear to be open for debate. This course will offer advanced students an interactive forum for learning about some of these questions along with some possible contradicting answers to them.

In this course, we will explore the theoretical perspectives on different disorders including Autism Spectrum Disorders, externalising disorders (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Conduct Disorder, and callous-unemotional traits), emotional problems in childhood and adolescence (Anxiety and Depression), Attachment Disorders and behavioural patterns following early deprivation or maltreatment. There will be an emphasis on the dynamic interplay between genetic, neurobiological, psychological, social, cognitive, emotional, and cultural influences (i.e. multiple levels of analysis).

Intimate relationships are frequently listed among the factors that make life most meaningful. At the present time, the field of relationship science is characterized by an enormous breadth of content, several unique methodological and statistical challenges, and meta-theories around which various empirical findings are integrated and organized.

“Please explain what is meant by a significance level of .05” is an interview question commonly used in assessing someone for a psychology teaching or tutoring job. And psychologists are rightly concerned with the proper use of statistics. But “Please explain your philosophical views on causality … or explanation … or abstraction” is a question very few psychologists are ever asked over their whole career. It represents a profound crisis for our field if psychologists do not know the philosophical status of the entities they are counting or putting into their theories and models.

Morality is critical to our lives, with differences in what people think is moral or not, and differences in what people do in moral situations, profoundly affecting individual and collective wellbeing, social harmony, and political and economic policy. This course will examine the factors affecting moral behaviour, including helping behaviours, charitable donation, exploitation of others, corporate malfeasance, and hypocrisy. It will also look at the major contemporary models of moral judgment and reasoning, and the evidence both for and against them.

Covering a variety of methodologies, this course will describe and evaluate the results of recent research on multisensory integration. First, the neural mechanisms underlying multisensory integration will be outlined. We will then examine the perception of multisensory events, the advantages afforded by the ability to combine different sensory modalities and the key determinants of intersensory interactions. Another key question addressed will be how multisensory interactions are linked to and modulated by attention.

The course assumes that most students have had little or no previous exposure to research in parapsychology. Parapsychology is defined as the scientific investigation of apparent new means of communication or influence between the organism and its environment, known as ‘psi’. The course does not presume that psi exists, but treats this as a scientifically-testable hypothesis and reviews the findings of laboratory psi research.

Language production is a deceptively complex task. In this option, we will consider how people are able to rapidly retrieve and combine words to form grammatical utterances, both with and without the presence of a listener. We will begin by considering the fundamental processes that are involved in producing utterances. We then focus on how these processes might be affected by the presence of a listener, by examining current research on language production in dialogue and considering how children might learn to communicate effectively.


To provide an overview of models of psychological therapies, and current methods of delivery.


To examine models of psychological therapy and their historical development, alongside their current delivery within a UK context. Models of psychological difficulties, and the manner in which they underpin these therapies, will be emphasised.  Consideration of the methodological difficulties in gathering evidence for psychological therapies will also be made.

The course offers advanced psychology students an opportunity to examine some of the core psychological processes at work in counselling and psychotherapy. The course will cover:

It is generally agreed that the medical model of health and illness is not sufficient to understand human health. The main contribution of health psychology has been to highlight the role of behaviour as a determinant of good or ill physical health. Behavioural factors, such as smoking, unhealthy diet or lack of exercise, contribute to the most debilitating illnesses of the 21st century. Behaviour change techniques are at the core of illness prevention, and psychology, as the science of behaviour, is key to preventing illness and improving health.

Working memory refers to the cluster of processes engaged while thinking: retrieving information already learned, attending to information in the environment, and using information in the service of some goal. Theories of working memory describing how these functions relate to each other will be considered, drawing upon empirical evidence from cognitive experiments, typical and abnormal neural functioning, and development from childhood to adulthood.