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The University of Southampton

PSYC3069 Childhood Maltreatment and Mental Health

Module Overview

Childhood maltreatment is one of the leading causes of mental health problems in the world. This module is designed as an in-depth introduction to the mechanisms via which early adversity might lead to mental health problems. We will also discuss resilience factors that might protect maltreated children from adverse effects.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of this module is to introduce students to: • Methods of measuring early adversity and designing studies on early adversity • Research on mechanisms via which early adversity might lead to mental health problems • Research on resilience mechanisms

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • You should be able to demonstrate knowledge on research methods relevant for designing studies on early adversity
  • You should be able to discuss different mechanisms related to resilience and vulnerability to early adversity
  • You should be able to critically evaluate studies and theories on the association between early adversity and mental health problems
  • You should be able to illustrate independent learning by reading additional relevant literature beyond the lecture material


This is the first time this module is run, we aim to include discussion of: • Overarching themes and issues as an introduction • Measurement and assessment of maltreatment experiences • The concept of resilience • Biological mechanisms which help explain how early experiences impact later development, such as discussion of sensitive periods, biological programming, alterations of brain structure and function, HPA axis imbalance, genetic and epigenetic mechanisms, the role of the microbiome • Other factors relevant for understanding individual differences following early risk; these likely include the discussion of the benefits of adoption and fostering, attachment, family and peer relations

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The two-hour weekly sessions will include both topic lectures as well as contributions from students which may include presentation and discussion of relevant research papers, practical exercises and discussion with practitioners.

Independent Study128
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework  ( hours) 29%
Exam 70%
Research Participation 1%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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