Assessment, Diagnosis and Formulation in Clinical Psychology Practice

Module titleAssessment, Diagnosis and Formulation in Clinical Psychology Practice
Module codePYCM071
Academic year2018/9
Module staff

Dr Ian Frampton (Convenor)

Dr Rachel Handley (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks




Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module provides you with theory-practice learning opportunities to develop your psychological understanding of the biopsychosocial factors implicated in the onset, maintenance and recovery from psychological difficulties across the lifespan. You will be taught skills to integrate information from assessment and a wide range of other information sources to determine a coherent account of the client’s needs and the cause, development and maintenance of the client’s problems within a range of clinical settings. The development of assessment and formulation skills will enable you to implement appropriate and flexible evidence-based interventions that consider the client’s perspective.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to:

  • support the development of competence in psychological assessment and formulation including the selection of assessment strategies appropriate to the clinical setting and needs of patients.
  • support the appropriate selection and application of valid and reliable psychometric assessment tools including the use of diagnostic interview schedules taking account of culture, clinical setting and lifespan developmental contexts.
  • support the development of competence in selection, use and interpretation of neuropsychological assessment tools.
  • support and enable a reflective scientist practitioner approach to psychological formulation applied to clinical/healthcare settings across the lifespan.
  • develop general critical and analytical skills when adopting an evidence-based approach to the practice of psychology across services and clinical populations.
  • maintain an appreciation of the importance of Service User and Carer involvement in service development and research in practice.
  • support and enable competence, knowledge and skill in psychological formulation across the lifespan and across services.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to...

  • 1. Practise under clinical supervision to develop working alliances with clients, including individuals, carers and/or services, in order to carry out psychological assessment and develop a formulation based on psychological theories and knowledge
  • 2. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of psychological (and other relevant) theory and evidence, related to specific client groups, presentations, psychological therapies, psychological testing and assessment

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to...

  • 3. Demonstrate clinical and research skills in supervised work with clients and systems based on a reflective scientist-practitioner model that incorporates assessment and formulation
  • 4. Evidence the skills, knowledge and values to work effectively under supervision with systems relevant to clients, including, for example, statutory and voluntary services, self-help and advocacy groups, user-led systems and other elements of the wider community

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to...

  • 5. Practise reflectively within a professional and ethical value base
  • 6. Communicate complex and contentious information clearly and effectively to specialists and non-specialists

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The module uses a mixture of pedagogical approaches to structure learning including didactic teaching, skills-based workshops, problem-based learning groups, online resources etc. The module is delivered across all terms of the year and emphasises reflective learning within teaching sessions (including peer groups, case study vignettes etc). Teaching incorporates an element of experiential learning where you are encouraged to reflect on clinical experience and draw on transferable learning experiences. Approaches such as problem-based learning groups and case study role plays will be utilised to engender a questioning and open stance to inform your work with clients, services and healthcare colleagues.

The syllabus covers the following content:

  • Psychological assessment across the lifespan.
  • Cognitive assessment for children and adults.
  • Psychometric principles underpinning cognitive assessment.
  • Applied behaviour analysis and functional assessment.
  • Client, parent and carer report of psychological functioning.
  • Reliable change index and single case assessment approaches in clinical practice.
  • Diagnostic systems and psychological formulation.
  • Assessment in CBT, systemic and community contexts.
  • Psychological formulation skills.
  • Meaningful service user involvement in assessment and formulation.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching66Class-based activities (didactic and skills-based teaching)
Guided independent study45Peer-group directed problem-based learning
Guided independent study60Self-reflective work-based learning
Guided independent study29Recommended reading and study


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
PBL group presentation45 minutes1-6Written peer feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
PBL group report (this assessment must be passed; failure in this assessment will lead to failure in the module and the programme)1002000 words1-6Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PBL group reportPBL group report1-6Four weeks after feedback

Re-assessment notes

One assessment is required for this module. In all cases re-assessment will be the same as the original assessment. Where you have been referred/deferred for any form of assessment detailed above you will have the opportunity to retake within four weeks from the date that feedback was provided.

If you pass re-assessments taken as a result of deferral, your re-assessment will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment and the overall module mark will not be capped.

If you pass re-assessments taken as a result of referral (i.e. following initial failure in the assessment), the overall module mark will be capped at 50%.

If you fail re-assessments taken as a result of referral (i.e. following initial failure in the assessment), you will be failed in the module and as a consequence you will be failed in the programme and your registration as a student of the University will be terminated.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Bennett, P. (2015). Clinical Psychology: Psychopathology through the lifespan. McGraw-Hill
  • Bowlby, J. (1988). A secure base: Clinical applications of attachment theory. London: Routledge.
  • Emerson, E., Hatton, C., Dickson, K., Gone, R., Caine, A., & Bromley, J. (2012). Clinical Psychology and People with Intellectual Disabilities. Second edition. Wiley-Blackwell. John Wiley and Sons
  • Roth. A.D., & Pilling, S. (2007). The competences required to deliver effective cognitive and behavioural therapy for people with depression and with anxiety disorders. London: DoH.
  • Lezak, M. D., Howieson, D. B., Bigler, E. D., & Tranel, D. (2012). Neuropsychological assessment. Fifth Edition. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Orford, J. (2008). Community Psychology: Challenges, Controversies and emerging consensus. Chichester: Wiley.
  • Pachana, N. & Laidlaw, K. (eds.) (2014) The Oxford Handbook of Clinical Geropsychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Persons, J. B.   (2008). The case formulation approach to cognitive-behavior therapy. New York: Guilford
  • Reynolds, C. R. & Fletcher-Janzen, E. (2008). Handbook of clinical child neuropsychology. Third Edition. New York: Springer.
  • Southwick, S.S. (2011). Resilience and mental health: Challenges across the lifespan, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Sugarman, L. (2005). Lifespan development: Concepts, theories and interventions. London: Routledge.
  • Sturmey, P. & McMurran, M. (2011). Forensic Case Formulation. Wiley-Blackwell. John Wiley and Sons.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Clinical psychology, assessment, formulation, diagnosis

Credit value20
Module ECTS


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