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2010/1 Module Catalogue
 Module Code: PSY3043 Module Title: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF FAMILIES
Module Provider: Psychology Short Name: PSY3043
Level: HE3 Module Co-ordinator: MCDOWALL A Dr (Psychology)
Number of credits: 10 Number of ECTS credits: 5
Module Availability
Final Year PSY/APS
Assessment Pattern

1) Learning log  [50%]. Students will submit a ‘portfolio’ that documents learning across the sessions. Each week, students will complete the log with mini-essays set by staff, their own reflections and some practical components.

2) Critical analysis of empirical work in the domain [50%]. Students will be asked to critically analyse a major extant piece of research in the domain, where they will be asked to determine this research and set their own question for analysing this work.
Module Overview
All Level 2 Psychology modules. Please note that lecture handouts and supplementary material will be made available on Ulearn; we will enrol students prior to the first session.
Module Aims
This final year course introduces students to the psychology of families taking an integrative approach which combines research and practice from diverse disciplines such as developmental, social, clinical, cross-cultural and occupational psychology. We will also focus on systemic approaches, which investigate human behaviour as part of a system, rather than at the unit of the individual and relevant therapeutic approaches such as family therapy. By the end of the course, students will have gained an understanding of how psychology research and practice can be applied to the unit of the family and will have critically challenged our nuclear Western concept.
Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Define the unit of ‘family’
  • Gain an appreciation of the contributions that different areas within psychology and related disciplines have made to our understanding of families
  • Understand different theories and paradigms that further our understanding of the psychology of families
  • Critique relevant research literature
  • Appreciate how the evidence base on families can inform practical activities and interventions
  • Begin to formulate an understanding of the ethical and practical ramifications of applying psychology to families.
Module Content

Broadly, this module will cover the following topics:

Traditional and non-traditional families
Family and gender
Families across cultures
Function and dysfunction in families
The family and the wider context, such as working families.

Methods of Teaching/Learning
Sessions will be interactive and rely on student input, as some will be seminar based, some will take a more traditional lecture format and some will have an experiential component. For this reason, numbers are strictly limited. Please note that all students are required to use Ulearn.
Selected Texts/Journals

An accessible introduction to some of the module topics can be found online in the Psychologist archive at

Dallos,R.,& Draper,R. (2005).(2nd ed), Introduction to Family Therapy. Open University Press.

Vetere, A & Dowling, E., with Harris, Rl, Papadopoulos, R., Raval, H. & Wren, B. (2002). The changing family. The Psychologist, 15 (10), 514 – 517. 

Other initial texts: 

Frone, M.R.  (2000). Work-family conflict and employee psychiatric disorders: The national comorbidity survey. Journal of Applied Psychology, Volume 85, Number 6, 888-895. 

Frone, M. R. (2003). Work-family balance. In Quick, J. C. & Tetrick, L. E. (Eds.), Handbook of occupational health psychology. Washington, DC: American.

Golombok, S (2000). Parenting - what really counts? London, Routledge.

Millward, L.J. (2006). The transition to motherhood in an organizational context: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology 79, 315-333.

Vetere, A. & Dallos, R. (2003). Working systemically with families: formulation, intervention and evaluation. London: Karmac.

Journal of Applied Psychology
Journal of Family Therapy
Clinical Psychology
Personality and Individual Differences
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