PSY2004 : Individual Differences

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


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

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.

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.

Reading Lists