Introduction to Psychopathology

Course summary

  • Mon 01 Oct 2018 to Mon 03 Dec 2018
  • 7:00-9:00pm 10 meetings
  • Ewert House, Ewert Place, Oxford, OX2 7DD
  • From £225.00
  • 10 CATS points
  • Course code O18P578PCW
  • +44 (0)1865 280900
  • Applications being accepted

Introduction to Psychopathology


Although mental health issues appear to be rising amongst Westernised populations, there are conflicting explanatory models regarding why this should be the case. This 10-week class will consider whether the field of contemporary psychiatry has advanced sufficiently to adequately explain why individuals develop psychological disorders and moreover, why advances in understanding mental health do not necessarily correlate with an increase in treatment efficacy.

We will consider the evidence base for the categorisation and diagnosis of psychological disorders, comparing and contrasting this perspective with alternative explanatory models. There will be a focus on the impact of sociocultural factors on the development of psychopathology, including a consideration of the link between creativity, intelligence and madness. 

We will consider the range of ways in which mental health and wellbeing can be improved, through changes in lifestyle and the ways in which we interact with each other. Finally, we will explore how counsellors and psychotherapists can work more effectively with clients who experience serious mental health difficulties.

Programme details

Term Starts: 1st October

Week 1: What is 'mental health'? A broad overview of what constitutes mental health.

Week 2: A history of diagnosis: a look back at the ways in which psychopathology has been understood in the past and how this compares to contemporary understanding.

Week 3: Diagnosis versus formulation: an exploration of the merits of the categorisation of disorder, compared with formulation as a framework for conceptualising distress.

Week 4: A history of treatment: a consideration of the various historical and contemporary approaches to treating individuals who experience psychological distress.

Week 5: Models of distress: the impact of relationships, particularly in early life, on the development of psychopathology.

Week 6: Models of distress: how relatively recent changes in society and in the environment impact upon mental health.

Week 7: It's all in the genes: we will consider some the research which seeks to explain individual susceptibility, including epigenetics and the impact of diet on the expression of genes.

Week 8: We will look at some of the positive aspects of mental health, including examples of individuals who have excelled in their field despite experiencing serious mental health difficulties.

Week 9: Holistic mental health: how an holistic understanding of the individual may lead to improved outcomes.  

Week 10: Supporting the supporter: for those working in the field of mental health and for those supporting family and friends, the importance of self care and applying the pronciples of holistic mental health.


Background Reading:

Cromby, J., Harper, D. and Reavey, P., Psychology, Mental Health and Distress

Johnstone L., A Straight Talking Introduction to Psychiatric Diagnosis

Lemma A., Introduction to Psychopathology

Oyebode, F., Sims’ Symptoms in the Mind: Textbook of Descriptive Psychopathology

Rudd, B., Introducing Psychopathology

Scull, A., Madness: A Very Short Introduction


If you are planning to purchase books, remember that courses with too few students enrolled will be cancelled. The Department accepts no responsibility for books bought in anticipation of a course.

If you have enrolled on a course starting in the autumn, you can become a borrowing member of the Rewley House library from 1st September. If you are enrolled on a course starting in other terms, you can become a borrowing member once the previous term has ended.

Recommended reading

All weekly class students may become borrowing members of the Rewley House Continuing Education Library for the duration of their course. Prospective students whose courses have not yet started are welcome to use the Library for reference. More information can be found on the Library website.

There is a Guide for Weekly Class students which will give you further information. 

Availability of titles on the reading list (below) can be checked on SOLO, the library catalogue.

Recommended Reading List


Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from between January 1st and July 31st after the current academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.


Course fee: £225.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00


Ms Sarah Ashworth

Sarah Ashworth has worked in the field of mental health for the past 20 years, as a mental health specialist, psychotherapist, teacher and supervisor. She has a particular interest in holistic mental health and nutrigenomics. 

Course aims

To understand the multifactorial determinants which influence the development of psychopathology and how an holistic understanding of mental health may improve outcomes for individuals experiencing mental health difficulties.

Course Objectives

1. To introduce participants to key explanatory concepts underpinning the development of psychopathology.

2. To understand the historical, political and social factors which determine current treatments for psychological disorders.

3. To gain a understanding of holistic mental health from a practitioner and personal perspective.

Teaching methods

Lectures, seminars, use of audiovisial equipment, diad, triad and small group exercises.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

1. Understand the current and historical sociocultural context of psychopathology;

2. Understand the many factors which influence the development of psychopathology; and

3. Understand what helps and how to support someone who is experiencing mental health difficulties.

Assessment methods

One 1,500 word essay with a choice of topics related to the course material.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form.


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)