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The University of Southampton

PSYC6001 Biopsychosocial Aspects of Health

Module Overview

This module introduces you to the scope of health psychology as an academic and applied branch of psychology. We explore patterns and causes of health and ill-health and examine a selection of major theoretical models. Key questions that we examine include: What is health psychology and why is it important? What is health and how can we measure it? How do psychological factors such as behaviour, personality, and social support influence health?

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of this module is to introduce you to the basis and context of health psychology, and to familiarise you with the major models and theoretical approaches, supported by research findings. The objectives are: • To introduce you to the elements of health psychology • To introduce you to key sources of information to facilitate your personal study activities • To introduce you to major theoretical models and evidence in health psychology and thus develop your understanding of psychological concepts and processes that are key to health and illness • To lay the foundation for developing your understanding of clinical applications of health psychology • To stimulate critical thinking through discussion of theoretical models and research findings • To relate theoretical models of health behaviour to everyday life experiences This module also aims to help you to develop graduate attributes including: •Global Citizenship – knowledge of global patterns of morbidity and mortality; understanding of the impact of cultural contexts on health behaviour. •Ethical Leadership –awareness of values underpinning health psychology and important ethical issues which our profession can contribute to, including for example reducing social inequalities in health. •Academic Attributes – ability to independently critically appraise knowledge claims and to apply psychological theory to real world health problems. •Communication Skills – ability to communicate about advanced material (health psychology theory and research), using evidence to illustrate and develop an argument, for academic purposes in writing and orally. •Reflective Learner – ability to reflect on attempts to change one’s own health behaviour; to develop own learning and practice; to make links between personal experience, empirical evidence and academic theory.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Describe the scope, context, and epistemological underpinnings of health psychology
  • List the main organ systems of the human body and outline major elements and functions of selected systems
  • Define key terms including health, illness, disease, health behaviour
  • Compare and contrast major models of health behaviour, taking into account relevant evidence.
  • Discuss the concepts, major causes, and measurement of health status, morbidity, mortality, and quality of life. Critically evaluate existing measures of these constructs
  • Critically discuss the impact of personality, social support, and social and cultural contexts on health and disease; evaluate measurements of these constructs; and outline the potential pathways through which such factors can influence health-related outcomes.
  • Discuss major developmental transitions in the elderly.
  • Develop and reflect on your basic skills for health psychology work including for example professional development and critical appraisal.


Indicative topics covered include: •Scope of Health Psychology •Anatomy and Physiology •Basic Epidemiology: Global Morbidity and Mortality •Health Cognitions and Health Behaviour •Behaviour Change Theories •Quality of Life •Knowledge and knowing in health psychology •Personality and Health •Social Support and Health •Psychosocial Aspects of Later Life •Social and Cultural Contexts

Special Features

Guest lecturers provide expert input for selected sessions.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

There are 12 lectures in this module, delivered by the module co-ordinator and a selection of invited lecturers with special expertise in a particular topic. Typically, lectures will emphasize active learning and you are expected to participate, for example in class discussions, debates, and other activities. To facilitate such involvement, you might be asked to do some preparatory work in advance of some sessions. To successfully complete the module, you will need to engage in your own personal study; to get you started we will provide a reading list for each topic. In addition to the 12 lectures, you will also attend 5 skills workshops associated with this module. Opportunities for formative assessment and feedback are built into the module in the form of in-class teaching and learning activities and blended learning resources. These include, for example: small group work and presentations; small-group and whole class discussions; observed exercises; spontaneous and/or planned questions and answers; and individual activity sheets. Staff provide verbal feedback during these activities to help you gauge and develop your knowledge and understanding. Test-yourself multiple choice questions (with automated feedback/answers) are available on Blackboard so that you can evaluate your own knowledge and understanding.

Independent Study154
Total study time200

Resources & Reading list

Ogden, J. (2012). Health psychology: a textbook. 

Taylor, S. E. (2015). Health psychology. 

Morrison, V., & Bennett, P. (2012). An introduction to health psychology. 

Marks, D.F., Murray, M., & Estacio E.V. (2018). Health psychology. Theory, research and practice. 

French, D., Vedhara, K., Kaptein, A.A., & Weinman J. (Eds.). (2010). Health psychology. 

Sarafino, E. P. & Smith, T. W. (2017). Health psychology: biopsychosocial interactions. 

Ayers, S., Baum, A., McManus, C., Newman, S., Wallston, K., Weinman, J., et al. (Eds.). (2007). Cambridge handbook of psychology, health and medicine. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 40%
Exam  (2 hours) 60%
Skills portfolio %


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 40%
Exam  (2 hours) 60%
Skills portfolio %

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Printing and Photocopying Costs

Students are expected to fund their own printing and photocopying costs, if any.


Core texts should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source. The library will also have at least one copy of textbooks listed as additional background reading , or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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