Faculty of Arts

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2014 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedSouth Africa Second semester 2014 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Dr Maria Damianova


This unit aims to give students a broad view of psychopathology (abnormal behaviour) by studying different theoretical perspectives in different cultural contexts. Topics to be covered include: theory; historical influences; specific psychopathologies; assessment, treatment methods, and legal issues. The unit will critically explore dominant taxonomies of mental and psychiatric illness notably the DSM system of classification. The knowledge acquired in this field is used by clinical practitioners to detect, assess, and treat abnormal patterns of functioning.


On completion of this unit, the students will be able to:

  1. relate their knowledge of personality, biological processes and human development to psychopathology.
  2. contrast historical and current major theoretical perspectives of psychopathology.
  3. compare methods of assessing psychological disorders.
  4. describe the main systems of classifying disorders.
  5. explain the way the theoretical perspective adopted by a clinician can influence the manner of interpreting the development and treatment of a psychological disorder.
  6. discuss the advantages and disadvantages of classifying abnormal behaviour.
  7. discuss the major types of psychological disorders and the major therapeutic approaches to psychopathology.
  8. critically evaluate previous research and psychological report writing.


Lecture topic quizzes: 10%
Class participation assignments: 10%
Critical thinking exercises: 30%
Examination: 50%

Chief examiner(s)

Workload requirements

2 hours lecture contact for 12 weeks
2 hours tutorials contact for 10 weeks
8 hours for private study, including reading of prescribed and recommended literature, review of and familiarisation with a wider range of publications on the core content topics of the unit, work on assignments, preparation for class discussions and presentations.

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study




PSY2011, PSY2031, PSY3032