Understanding Human Personality Birbeck University of London
Price: GBP 515

    Course details


    No formal qualifications are required. However, all modules are taught at university level and students should be able to read, write and speak English fluently. Students new to psychology will benefit from undertaking some preparatory reading as detailed below.


    To examine ways in which human beings systematically differ from one another in terms of personality and motivation; to introduce theories of personality as developed within the field of psychology and to explore practical applications of personality research in a range of settings.


    • Examine the nature and causes of 'individual differences'.

    • Introduce and evaluate the major theories of personality.

    • Discuss the development of ideas within personality research

    • Give an overview of research methods used within psychology including a basic evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of each.

    • Explore the influences of biological, genetic, environmental, social and situational factors that may explain differences in personality and motivation.

    • Highlight current approaches, issues and debates.

    • Identify the ethical issues involved when conducting research in psychology (with particular reference to harm) and the issues that arise when trying to generalise results (for example across cultures).

    • Discuss applications within the students' own lives.

    • Support and develop students' study skills.

    • Support students to take part in the assessment process.

    • Build students' confidence in presenting their own ideas and in critical thinking.


    By the end of this course you will be able to:

    • Discuss the nature and causes of 'individual differences' in personality and motivation.

    • Describe and evaluate the major theories of personality, including contemporary approaches.

    • Describe and evaluate the research methods used in the study of personality.

    • Describe the influences of biological, genetic, environmental, social and situational factors that may explain differences in personality and motivation. 

    • Discuss ways in which personality may affect a range of behaviours.

    • Offer a critique of personality testing.

    • Identify current approaches and debates in the study of personality.

    • Recognise a range of research methodologies that might be appropriate to the study of this area of psychology (identifying strengths and weaknesses of core methodologies, including both qualitative as well as quantitative approaches). 

    • Identify the ethical issues when conducting psychological research (with particular consideration of harm). 

    • Demonstrate an appropriate awareness of cultural considerations in the evaluation of theory and research. 

    • Think critically about the subjects covered.

    • Present your own ideas about issues addressed on the course.

    • Discuss and implement a range of strategies to support your learning.

    • Successfully plan and write essays or other assignments which have been set to support your learning on this course. 


    In this course we will explore the answers to the following questions:

    • What is personality? What is the 'self'?

    • What are the key methods of assessing personality? We will examine relevant methodologies e.g. case studies, projective techniques, laboratory studies, interviews and questionnaires. 

    • What are the key approaches to personality and motivation e.g. psychoanalytic, trait, cognitive, social-cognitive (inter-actional) and biological? 

    • To what extent do the influences of biological, genetic, environmental, social and situational factors explain differences in personality and motivation. 

    • How consistent is personality between different situations and over the lifespan?

    • Are there sex and gender differences in personality and, if so, why?

    • What are the effects of personality on other behaviours in such settings as work; health; education; relationships; and occupational choice? 

    • What are personality and identity disorders and can they be treated?

    Updated on 22 November, 2018

    Job roles this course is suitable for:

    Psychologist , Psychology Lecturer , Behavior Therapist

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