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Unit information: The Psychology of Individual Differences. in 2015/16

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Unit name The Psychology of Individual Differences.
Unit code EDUCM5410
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Meadows
Open unit status Not open


Co-requisites - EDUCM5411 - Developmental Psychology.
School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


The unit enables students to examine research on the psychology of individual differences. Topics include:

The main approaches to emotion, motivation, the self and normal and abnormal personality development, including: psychoanalytic, behavioural, cultural, social learning, social cognitive, radical behaviourist, humanistic-existential-phenomenological, lexical-trait, neo Darwinist, biological and behavioural genetic. The critical psychological view of subject and subjectivity. Influence of genetic, environmental, development and cultural factors on individual differences. Temporal and situational consistency of individual differences. Influence of personality on other behaviours. The nature of intelligence, contemporary approaches to intelligence and their implications for educational and social policy. Individual differences and inclusion and exclusion.

Intended learning outcomes

Students will demonstrate that they:

  • Understand key concepts in current study of the psychology of individual differences
  • Have developed skills in the evaluation and interpretation of the psychology of individual differences
  • Understand the importance of biological, social and psychological factors in individual differences
  • Have explored the way in which different approaches to the psychology of individual differences relate to and complement each other
  • Are able to differentiate between ways in which identity(ies) is/are constructed in different cultures
  • Are able to critically interrogate claims about the psychology of individual differences in the psychological and educational literature
  • Understand the implication of recent research on the psychology of individual differences for classroom practice
  • Are able to evaluate the relevance of the psychology of individual differences for educational policy and innovation

Teaching details

The course will be delivered through whole group lectures and discussion led by research-active members of the Graduate School.

The needs of a wide range of students, including those with disabilities, international students and those from ethnic minority backgrounds have been considered. It is not anticipated that the teaching and assessment methods used will cause disadvantage to any person taking the unit. The Graduate School of Education is happy to address individual support requests as necessary

Assessment Details

An essay of 2000 words, or a research report. In negotiation with tutors, students will be expected to analyse relevant texts and synthesise concepts from the psychology of individual differences, make links/connections and recognise associations/relationships between these concepts, and draw upon current understanding of the psychology of individual differences. They will be expected to develop balanced arguments that reflect a multidisciplinary awareness and an ability to contextualise concepts, and draw appropriately upon a wide range of psychological evidence.

Reading and References

  • Bandura, A. (1997) Self-efficacy. New York: Freeman
  • Caspi, A., Roberts, B.W., and. Shiner, R. L. (2005) Personality Development: Stability and Change Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 56: 453-484
  • Dweck, C. (1999) Self theories. Hove: Psychology Press.
  • Ellemers, N., Spears, R., and Doosje, B. (2002) Self and Social Identity Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 53: 161-186
  • Mackintosh, N.J. (1998) IQ and human intelligence. Oxford: O.U.P.
  • Mischel, W. (2004) Toward an integrative science of the person. Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 55: 1-22