Understanding the Self - Theories of Personality

Course summary

  • Thu 04 Oct 2018 to Thu 06 Dec 2018
  • 10:30am-12:30pm 10 meetings
  • Ewert House, Ewert Place, Oxford, OX2 7DD
  • From £205.00
  • 10 CATS points
  • Course code O18P582PCW
  • ppweekly@conted.ox.ac.uk
  • +44 (0)1865 280900
  • Applications being accepted

Understanding the Self - Theories of Personality


Who am I? Why am I this way? Why do I make certain choices? Can I change? This beginners' course presents the main theories and explains how psychologists measure personality and intelligence. Psychological and neuroscientific theories will be explored.

Topics covered include basic definitions of personalities and its measurement, trait theory, psychoanalytic theories, neurobiological research from brain scanning studies and theories of emotion and motivation. The course explains how psychologists measure personality and intelligence and describes the key tools used in their assessment. It also considers abnormal personality and the definition, diagnosis and treatment of personality disorders.

Programme details

Term Starts:   4th October

Week 1: Introduction to Personality

Week 2: Trait Theories

Week 3: Reliability & Validity

Week 4: The History of Intelligence Measurement

Week 5: Current Theories of Intelligence

Week 6: Freud's Theory of Personality Development

Week 7: Behaviourist Theories

Week 8: Biological Theories of Personality

Week 9: Emotion & Motivation

Week 10: Personality Disorders

Background Reading:

Cervone D & Pervin LA, Personality: Theory and Research

Maltby J, Day L & Macaskill A., Personality, Individual Difference and Intelligence


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: £205.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00


Dr Anna Scarnà

Dr Anna Scarnà is a psychologist and has worked as a university lecturer in for several years. She is interested in attention, memory, and language function, personality traits, and psychological disorders. Most recently, her work has been on wellbeing.

Course aims

This course is intended to provide an introduction to the field of personality and intelligence to non-psychologists.

It aims to familiarise students with general principles in personality psychology so that they can apply various approaches in order to better understand themselves and others.

Course Objectives:

1. To give students a better understanding of the topics of personality and intelligence.

2. To help students to understand the influence of these theories upon culture and general behaviour, including psychological disorders.

3. To provide students with the basic tools for appropriate evaluation of personality assessment measures.

Teaching methods

Traditional, lecture-style classes with Powerpoint slides, seminar-style discussion, audio-visual aids such as video clips and research papers.

Learning outcomes

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

1. learn in both an independent and co-operative manner, using a range of styles and strategies;

2. Analyse and evaluate theories and evidence, thinking laterally and conceptually;

3. Communicate fluently and effectively in speech and writing, presenting coherent arguments.

Assessment methods

Students will be invited to discuss at least two topics covered in the lectures. This will consist of a written piece of work of approximately 1500 words, of reflections and notes concerning 2 of the 10 topics discussed each week in the course. These notes will be compiled with a plan submitted in Week 5 and the completed work by the deadline after Week 10.

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)