Module Catalogue 2018/19

PSY2004 : Individual Differences

  • Offered for Year: 2018/19
  • 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:
The ‘big five’ personality dimensions and their correlates; Personality and health; Intelligence: controversies and measurement; Components of intelligence and their relationships to the big five; Emotional Intelligence and its relationship to general intelligence and the big five; Neurobiological underpinnings of individual differences; Methods for measuring individual differences; Developmental influences on personality and intelligence; Sex Differences; Behavioural and molecular genetics of individual differences; The stability of the individual across situations; Inter-individual variation in non-human species.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

1.To understand major current theories of personality and intelligence

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

3.To be able to relate individual differences to underlying neurobiological and cognitive mechanisms

4. To develop a critical awareness of genetic and developmental factors affecting adult personality and intelligence, and the methodologies of studies that purport to demonstrate such effects.

5. To develop an awareness of the ethical and methodological challenges that surround the assessment of individual differences in personality and intelligence.

6. To be familiar with research relating personality to adult health and other outcomes

Intended Skill Outcomes

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

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

2.To be able to summarise both sides of a current controversy in the literature

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

4.To be able to critically examine the grounds for knowledge claims in the area of individual differences

5.To be able to critically consider and 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 : Assessed
      • Synthesise And Present Materials : Present
      • Use Of Computer Applications : Assessed
  • Self Management
    • Self Awareness And Reflection : Assessed
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Decision Making : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Innovation And Creativity : Assessed
      • Initiative : Present
      • Adaptability : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Interpersonal : Present
      • Written Other : Assessed

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture161:0016:00Lectures (2/week)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion161:0016:00Preparing and completing assessment
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading81:008:00Reading for assignment
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading121:0012:00Reading assigned for lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00Assignment discussion and guidance
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops21:002:00Neuropsychological assessment workshop
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity41:004:00Preparing and completing reflective log
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00Assignment Guidance
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study136:0036:00Independent study and revision
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures and associated hand-outs and readings form the core factual content of the course. Students will participate in a neuropsychological workshop where they will gain first-hand experience administering a number of personality and intelligence tasks. They will then be asked to reflect on and to discuss the strengths and weakness of each task. This is designed to assist them in the preparation of their assignment where they must “devise a novel assessment tool for measuring one (or more) personality trait/s, or for measuring general intelligence”. Students will have the opportunity to receive formative feedback on their assignments at the small group teaching sessions and at the drop-in surgeries that will run throughout the semester. This process is designed to further enhance the learning outcomes of this module and to provide students with the experience of developing a research idea and a corresponding experimental design, prior to the commencement of their Stage 3 project.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
PC Examination452A50MCQ
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report2M50Presented in video (visual or audio-visual format). A written copy of task protocol & ref section will be appended to submission.
Zero Weighted Pass/Fail Assessments
Description When Set Comment
Reflective logMA compulsory written reflective log (word limit 500 words) will be submitted on completion of the assignment.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Assignment: The assignment video essay will be used to assess knowledge and understanding of the material relevant to the module, along with ability for critical thinking within a psychological context (which includes consideration of ethical issues surrounding psychological testing). It will also assess ability to communicate ideas clearly – both visually and verbally - and in a way which is not currently assessed in any other psychology module (and will hence extend the range of graduate skills developed during the degree programme).

This assessment will enhance learning outcomes and develop insight into how psychological measurement tools are constructed. The presentation mode (i.e. video essay) has been selected to enhance student engagement and to encourage critical and creative thinking. Despite the audio-visual presentation format, the assessment will be expected to follow the typical structure of a psychological report, and therefore contain a clear Introduction/Background section followed by a Methods, (anticipated) Results, and Discussion/Concluding sections. Clear and creative presentation will be encouraged.

Reflective log: The reflective log will provide a forum for students to reflect on what they have learnt in the process of researching and completing their assignment, enabling them, as learners, to gain a better understanding of their learning journey.

Exam: The multiple choice examination will provide information about the depth and breadth of the students’ knowledge base and asses understanding and factual recall.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2018/19 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 2018/19 entry will be published here in early-April 2018. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.