Abnormal Psychology

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
PSYC 2341
Abnormal Psychology
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture: 4 hrs. per week / semester
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

This course will employ a number of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives which will include some of the following:

  1. Lectures.
  2. Seminar presentations.
  3. Audio-visual materials.
  4. Small group discussion.
  5. Research papers.
  6. Volunteer projects.

Course Description
Students are introduced to basic issues in the study of abnormal psychology and to a selection of psychological disorders. Topics include the history of psychopathology, paradigms, classification, assessment, research methods, theories of etiology, and approaches to treatment.
Course Content


  1. Historical and Scientific Considerations
    • The nature of abnormality.      
    • The mental health professions.
    • History of psychopathology.
  2. Current Paradigms in Psychopathology and Treatment
    • Biological paradigm.
    • Psychodynamic paradigm.
    • Learning paradigm.
    • Cognitive paradigm.
    • Humanistic/Existential paradigms.
    • Consequences of adopting a paradigm.
  3. Classification and Diagnosis
    • Diagnostic system of the American Psychiatric Association.
    • Issues in classification.
    • Criticisms of diagnosis.
  4. Clinical Assessment Procedures
    • Reliability and validity.
    • Biological assessment.
    • Psychological assessment.
    • Cultural diversity and assessment.
  5. Research Methods in the Study of Abnormal Psychology
    • Science and scientific methods.
    • Research methods of abnormal psychology.
  6. Diagnostic features, epidemiology, theories of aetiology, evidence-based treatments for:
    • Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive and Trauma-related Disorders
    • Somatic Symptom and related Disorders
    • Dissociative Disorders
    • Mood Disorders and Suicide
    • Personality Disorders
    • Substance-related and addictive disorders
    • Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders
    • Eating Disorders
    • Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders
    • Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence
    • Disorders associated with Aging
  7. Psychological Disorder Prevention strategies and promotion of mental health
  8. Legal and Ethical Issues
    • Civil commitment.
    • Criminal responsibility.
    • Ethical issues.
Learning Outcomes
  1. Define psychological disorder (abnormality).
  2. Describe the perceived causes and treatments of psychological disorder prior to the twentieth century.
  3. Describe the biological, psychodynamic, behavioural, cognitive,humanistic/existential and diathesis-stress paradigms of psychopathology. 
  4. Describe the therapies associated with each paradigm.
  5. Evaluate each paradigm with regard to its strengths and weaknesses.
  6. Describe the current DSM system of classifying psychological disorders, the reason for using a classification system, and the validity and reliability of this system.
  7. Describe clinical assessment techniques including unstructured and structured interviews, psychological inventories, projective tests, intelligence tests, neuropsychological assessments, psychophysiological assessments, behavioural assessments, and brain imaging techniques.           
  8. Describe research evidence for each assessment technique in terms of its reliability and validity.
  9. Describe the case study, correlation, and experimental methods of scientific investigation.
  10. Describe and evaluate each method of investigation with regard to its strengths and weaknesses.
  11. Describe the epidemiology, symptoms and associated features of: Anxiety Disorders, Bipolar and Related Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Dissociative Disorders, Gender Dysphoria, Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, Paraphilic Disorders, Personality Disorders, Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders, Sexual Dysfunctions, Somatic-Symptom and Related Disorders, and Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders.
  12. Describe and evaluate the theories of etiology for each disorder.
  13. Describe and evaluate the psychological and biological therapies for each disorder.
  14. Describe strategies for prevention of psychological disorder and promotion of mental health.
  15. Describe and discuss issues relating to civil commitment and criminal responsibility.
  16. Describe and discuss ethical dilemmas in therapy and research.
  17. Describe and think critically about the impact of culture and diversity issues and variables on mental health functioning.
Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. Evaluation will be based on the course objectives. The instructor will present a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester. Evaluation will be based on some of the following:


  1. Multiple-choice tests.
  2. Written-answer tests.
  3. Final exam.
  4. Oral presentation.
  5. Research project/term paper.
  6. Volunteer project.


An example of an evaluation scheme:

4 tests -- 40%

Mid-term exam -- 15%

Term paper -- 15%

Oral presentation -- 10%

Final exam -- 20%

Total -- 100%


Textbook Materials

Textbook(s) such as the following, the list to be updated periodically:


Dozois, David J.A. (2019) Abnormal Psychology: Perspectives (6th edition). Toronto, Ontario: Pearson Canada



Courses listed here must be completed either prior to or simultaneously with this course:

  • No corequisite courses

Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

  • No equivalency courses
Which Prerequisite