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Assessment, Diagnosis and Formulation in Clinical Practice

Module titleAssessment, Diagnosis and Formulation in Clinical Practice
Module codePYCM100
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Susanna Cole (Lecturer)

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. 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 cognitive 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 module you will be able to...

  • 1. Conduct and understand a range of psychological assessment methods appropriate to the client population and service delivery system in which the assessment takes place and the type of intervention which is likely to be required.
  • 2. Administer a range of assessment procedures in the target population including: formal procedures (use of standardised psychometric instruments); systematic interviewing procedures; and other structured methods of assessment (e.g. observation or gathering information from others).
  • 3. Demonstrate an understanding of key elements of psychometric theory which have relevance to psychological assessment.
  • 4. Develop formulations for the target population using a range of possible sources of information.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 5. Develop and maintain effective working alliances with clients in the target population to enable a productive psychological assessment to take place.
  • 6. Present summary reports that integrate the findings of psychological assessment and discuss implications for psychological formulation and intervention.
  • 7. Undertake risk assessments and manage risks under supervision and guidance.
  • 8. Demonstrate competence in the incorporation of the relevant psychological factors important in the understanding of the client’s difficulties (e.g.biopsychosocial frameworks).
  • 9. Demonstrate competence in the use of formulation to implement appropriate and flexible interventions within the target population that consider the client’s perspective, including managing possible obstacles to intervention.

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 10. Practise reflectively within a professional and ethical value base.
  • 11. 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.
  • Risk assessment and crisis management. 
  • Neurodevelopmental assessment.
  • Cognitive assessment for clients in the target population.
  • Psychometric principles underpinning assessment.
  • Applied behaviour analysis and functional assessment.
  • Client, parent and carer report of psychological functioning as appropriate to the target population.
  • 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 teaching54Class-based activities (didactic and skills-based teaching)
Guided independent study24Peer-group directed problem-based learning
Guided independent study45Self-reflective work-based learning
Guided independent study77Recommended reading and study


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
PBL group presentation45 minutes1-11Written 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
Clinical practice report 1 (this assessment must be passed; failure in this assessment will lead to failure in the module and the programme)1003000 words1-11Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Clinical practice report 1Clinical practice report 11-11Four 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.
  • Carr, A. (2015) The Handbook of Child & Adolescent Clinical Psychology. Second Edition.  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
  • Johnstone, L. & Dallos, R. (eds.) (2014) Formulation in Psychology and Psychotherapy. London: Routledge.
  • Kuyken, W., Padesky, C.A & Dudley, R. (eds.) (2012) Collaborative Case Conceptualisation: Working effectively with clients in cognitive behavioural therapy.  New York: Guilford.
  • Lezak, M. D., Howieson, D. B., Bigler, E. D., & Tranel, D. (2012). Neuropsychological assessment. Fifth Edition. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • 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
  • 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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