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    Advanced topics in abnormal psychology. Features, pathogenesis, and causes of mental disorder.

    In what way does culture affect the expression of eating disorders? What roles do burdensomeness and belonging play in suicide? What underlying mechanisms are affected by psychological treatments for schizophrenia? Do different anxiety disorders arise from a single underlying process? What neurotransmitter systems are involved in addictive behaviour? How does neuropsychological impairment in bipolar disorder differ from that in other psychotic disorders?

    These are just a few of the many questions that are examined in PSYC 403, which is concerned with the expression of psychopathology in adults and mechanisms that contribute to the occurrence of mental disorder. Topics are addressed within a problem-based learning framework.

    About this paper

    Paper title Adult Psychopathology
    Subject Psychology
    EFTS 0.0833
    Points 10 points
    Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $723.96
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    Students must also have been provisionally admitted to the PGDipClPs programme.

    Students who have been provisionally admitted to the Clinical Psychology Training Programme are required to take PSYC 401-406, each of which is a 10-point single-semester paper. PSYC 402-406 are for clinical students only.


    To be confirmed

    Teaching staff

    To be confirmed

    Paper Structure

    The paper will review the current and historical perspectives on adult psychosocial problems and psychopathology, including theory, epidemiology, aetiology and symptomatology. Its format will be one of problem-based learning.

    The general course outline includes all adult psychopathologies:

    • Anxiety and trauma-related disorders
    • Eating disorders
    • Substance use disorders
    • Depressive and bipolar disorders
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
    • Schizophrenia and other psychoses
    • Personality disorders
    • Somatic symptom and dissociative disorders
    • Sexual dysfunctions
    • Sleep disorders and parasomnias
    • Gender dysphoria
    • Factitious disorders
    • Impulse control disorders
    • Acquired and idiopathic brain disorders
    • Other psychopathologies

    Internal Assessment: 100% of the final grade is based on internal assessment. Internal assessment activities include theory reviews, presentations and quizzes. The grade value of each internal assessment component is determined by consensus among the students in the paper at the start of the paper.


    American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

    Weekly readings will be assigned from primary research material and selected book chapters.

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Information literacy, Research, Teamwork.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Successful completion of this paper will:

    • Promote the capacity and desire for lifelong learning and self-directed continuing education and career development in clinical psychology
    • Provide the context and groundwork for the development of a strong conceptual understanding of models of psychopathology and the ability to think critically and scientifically about such models
    • Develop literacy in adult psychopathology, recognition of psychopathology where it occurs and a base of knowledge pertaining to psychopathology
    • Foster curiosity about causes of psychopathology, to encourage participation in research into psychopathology and to stimulate learning from research in the field
    • Enhance the academic skills and other personal attributes (e.g. confidence, self-evaluation, autonomy, ethical awareness) that are required for a career in clinical psychology


    Semester 1

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Monday 09:00-11:50 9-13, 15-22
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