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University of Exeter Medical School

Psychology Applied to Health

Module titlePsychology Applied to Health
Module codeNEU3003
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Jenny Harris ()

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks




Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Health and illness are not only influenced by biological factors (viruses, bacteria etc.) but also by psychological and social factors, including emotions, personality, and our relationships with other people. Understanding the interplay between these different influences is critical to medical research and clinical practice. This module will provide you with an introduction to this field and highlight research relevant to both treatment and prevention of ill health.

This optional module is delivered by expert psychologists who conduct research in a variety of health contexts and is likely to interest final year students of the BSc Neuroscience, BSc Medical Sciences, and related disciplines (e.g., Psychology, Biosciences, Human Sciences, Sport and Exercise Sciences).

Module aims - intentions of the module

You will be introduced to contemporary research in key areas of psychology applied to health (including stress, social support, medication adherence), and study how research findings are translated into practice in healthcare settings (e.g., through health promotion and behaviour change interventions). By critically appraising how social and psychological processes influence health and illness, you will develop an integrative, holistic understanding of important problems in healthcare.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Demonstrate understanding of key research and findings in psychology applied to health
  • 2. Review key psychological theories and research studies in health psychology
  • 3. Critically appraise research in psychology applied to health, in terms of theoretical and methodological rigour
  • 4. Evaluate research that has been applied in preventative health contexts (e.g., in healthcare and public health interventions) and consider the implications of this research for the future of healthcare and public health policy

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 5. Describe and critically appraise methods used in health psychology research
  • 6. Critically appraise scientific research papers in psychology

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 7. Study autonomously, managing private study, soliciting, and using feedback
  • 8. Interact effectively with others and contribute to scientific discussions
  • 9. Communicate ideas effectively by written means

Syllabus plan

The module’s precise content will vary from year to year, but the following information gives a description of the typical overall structure.

The delivery will be a combination of interactive lectures, workshops and plenary sessions. Delivery is face-to-face with some supplementary online material. Specifically, students will attend a series of interactive lectures with facilitated discussions which provide the core content of the module, in terms of theoretical frameworks and key empirical studies within the field. Workshops will enable students to work with others in developing critical appraisal skills and fostering deeper understanding of module material. Plenary sessions will provide students with deeper insights into cutting edge, contemporary research topics in the field.

The syllabus is supported by a weekly drop-in clinic for questions, comments, and advice. Students are expected to engage in independent study across the module. 

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 Teaching2211 x 2 hour lectures (1 hour content and 1 hour Q&A with facilitated interactive discussion)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching42 x 2 hour workshop
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22 x 1 hour plenary lectures
Guided Independent Study122Guided reading of research articles and literature; preparation for lectures, workshops and plenaries; assessment preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Contribution to discussionsBased on contributions to the discussions during workshops and lectures (including Q&A/interactive discussion) 1-9, esp. 8Oral (tutor)

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
Essay Examination 602 questions, 750 words per question 1-7, 9Individual grade
Scientific Essay Synopsis (coursework)401,000 words1-7, 9Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay Examination, 60% Essay Examination 2 questions, 750 words per question (60%)1-7, 9Ref/Def
Scientific Essay Synopsis, 40%Scientific Essay Synopsis (1,000 words) (40%)1-7, 9Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Please refer to the TQA section on Referral/Deferral:

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Haslam, C., et al. (2018). The new psychology of health: Unlocking the social cure, London: Routledge

Jetten, J. et al. (2011). The Social Cure: Identity, Health and Well-being. Hove: Psychology Press.

Hagger, M.S., et al. (2020). The handbook of behavior change. Cambridge: CUP

Ogden, J. (2012). Health psychology. OUP.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

ELE – College to provide hyperlink to appropriate pages

Web based and electronic resources:


Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Primary research publications and review articles covering various topics, as directed by the module team and identified through independent study.

Key words search

Psychology, Health, Behaviour Change, Health Promotion, Interventions

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date