Module Catalogue 2017/18

PSY2004 : Individual Differences

  • Offered for Year: 2017/18
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Sinead Mullally
  • Owning School: Psychology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment

For single-honours Psychology students, successful completion of Stage 1 Psychology

Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



To review the modern study of individual differences in psychology, with particular reference to:
(a) validity and reliability in the measurement of individual differences;
(b) the major theories of individual differences
(c) integrating individual differences research with genetics and neurobiology
(d) the relationships between individual differences, health and psychopathology
(e) the broader comparative and evolutionary context within which individual variation should be studied

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics to be covered include: Inter-individual variation in non-human species; The stability of the individual across situations; Methods for measuring individual differences; The ‘big five’ personality dimensions and their correlates; Intelligence: controversies and measurement; Components of intelligence and their relationships to the big five; Neurobiological underpinnings of individual differences; Behavioural and molecular genetics of individual differences; Developmental influences on personality and intelligence; Personality and health; Sex Differences

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to:

1.       Describe and evaluate major current theories relating to individual differences in psychological functioning

2.       Assess the issues of reliability and validity that underlie individual difference research

3.       Explain how individual differences in cognition relate to underlying neurobiological and cognitive mechanisms

4.       Critically appraise genetic and developmental factors affecting adult personality and intelligence, and the methodologies of studies that purport to demonstrate such effects.

5.       Relate personality to adult health and other outcomes

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to:

1. Appraise papers on individual differences with a clear and critical understanding of such issues as psychometrics, validity, factor structure, heritability, correlation and causation.

2. Summarise both sides of a current controversy in the literature

3.Conduct literature searches on a given topic to gain an understanding of the current state of research

4. Critically evaluate the grounds for knowledge claims in the area of individual differences

5. Discuss purported social implications of individual differences research

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Assessed
    • Data Synthesis : Assessed
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Present
      • Use Of Computer Applications : Present
  • Self Management
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Decision Making : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Initiative : Present
      • Adaptability : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Interpersonal : Assessed
      • Written Other : Assessed

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00Weekly Lectures
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading122:0024:00Readings assigned for lectures
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading61:006:00Preparation for seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching61:006:00Seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study152:0052:00Independent study and revision
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures and associated handouts and readings form the core factual content of the course. The seminar sessions will be used in a variety of different ways including: practical data gathering and analysis; reading papers from the current literature; group discussions. The seminar activities allow the students to develop skills in research methods, reading the literature, and thinking critically.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
PC Examination902A95Unseen, essay (50%) & MCQ (50%)
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M5See comments included in Assessment Rationale and Relationship below.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

For the in-course assessment, students will devise a novel assessment tool for measuring IQ, personality or episodic memory recollection. They will submit a 500 word description of this measure, outlining what it aims to measure, how it will be administered and scored, and identify its’ expected correlates (e.g. verbal IQ, extraversion...etc.). Successful completion of this task will demonstrate understanding of how individual difference measurements are constructed, and how they relate to one another. A selection of the tasks will be discussed (anonymously) in class as a learning tool.

The examination essays will be used to assess knowledge, independent learning and understanding of the material relevant to the module, the ability to integrate this material and to communicate clearly, and the ability for critical thought.

The multiple choice element of the examination will provide information about the depth and breadth of the students’ knowledge base. Multiple choice examinations are regularly used in Psychology Stage 2 modules, and care is taken to ensure that the questions are of varying levels of difficulty and assess understanding as well as factual recall. The existence of an essay component also provides a cross-check against the MCQ assessment.

FMS Schools offering Semester One modules available as ‘Study Abroad’ will, where required, provide an alternative assessment time for examinations that take place after the Christmas vacation. Coursework with submissions dates after the Christmas vacation will either be submitted at an earlier date or at the same time remotely.

The form of assessment will not vary from the original.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2017/18 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2017/18 entry will be published here in early-April 2017. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.