Accessibility statement

Intelligence (UG) - EDU00053H

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  • Department: Education
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Sophie Von Stumm
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

This module introduces key topics in intelligence research, including the measurement, causes, and consequences of individual differences in intelligence. Students will closely work with original empirical studies, become immersed in theoretical approaches to understanding people's differences, and develop an understanding of the ethical, societal, and philosophical debates that surround intelligence.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

This module is intended to introduce students to the key concepts and methods in intelligence research, including the causes, assessment and long-term consequences of individual differences in intelligence. The module will reflect on how findings from intelligence research apply to understanding, improving and participating in education, including ethical discussions about equality, philosophical questions about free will, and practical issues of how psychometrics can be used by individuals and society.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content:

  • Students will understand and learn to explain the key concepts and methodological approaches in intelligence research, including its psychometric assessment, genetic and environmental causes, and its development across the lifespan.
  • Students will explore and critically evaluate how intelligence is relevant to education, as well as how it informs important life outcomes outcomes, such as health, marriage, and longevity.
  • Students will develop an informed rationale based on the critical evaluation of empirical studies about the practical utility and application of intelligence in psychology and education.

Academic and graduate skills:

  • Students will gain experience in analysing and interpreting scientific writings and data to develop an informed personal perspective on intelligence, a pivotal topic in psychology in education.
  • Students will be able to effectively communicate a reasoned argument, and the evidence underpinning it, in both written and oral forms.
  • Students will be able to identify and synthesise a range of sources, for example academic articles, media and policy documents, and critically evaluate their reliability, validity and relevance.
  • Students will be able to analyse ways in which theories and data from different disciplines can inform each other and can be applied in different contexts to enhance understanding.
  • Students will work proactively and autonomously to select and manage empirical and theoretical information and to use this information to engage effectively in debate.

Module content

The following list of topics is representative of the lectures that will be given but may be subject to small changes.

- Intelligence or the adaptability of the brain. Students are introduced to the key concepts of intelligence, including definitions, theoretical models of intelligence, and the psychometric structure and assessment.

- Genetics of Intelligence: The causes of individual differences in intelligence. Students will be introduced to twin and genomic studies that aim to differentiate genetic and environmental influences on intelligence, and their key findings about intelligence.

- Stability and change: The development of intelligence. Students will be introduced to developmental models of intelligence, and key empirical studies on mean- and individual-level changes in intelligence across the lifespan.

- Prediction: Consequences of individual differences in intelligence. Students will learn about the predictive validity of differences in intelligence for educational outcomes, including school performance, educational choices, and educational trajectories, but also for other important life outcomes, like health, marriage and longevity.

- Intelligence beyond IQ. Students will be introduced to theoretical approaches and empirical studies on non-ability predictors of education and other important life outcomes to critically gauge the relative explanatory power of intelligence.

- Meritocracy. Students will be introduced to fundamental philosophical and ethical questions about human differences in ability, their origins, and how society understands and responds to these differences.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework (3000 words)
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework (3000 words)
N/A 100

Module feedback

Written feedback on assignment report sheet and face-to-face feedback in supervisions. The feedback is returned to students in line with university policy. Please check the Guide to Assessment, Standards, Marking and Feedback for more information.

Indicative reading

von Stumm, S. (2018). Intelligence. Book chapter in G. Davey (ed) Psychology (BPS Textbooks in Psychology). Wiley Blackwell.

Ritchie, S. (2015). Intelligence. All that matters. Hodder & Stoughton.

Hunt, E. (2011). Human Intelligence. Cambridge University Press.

Plomin, R., & von Stumm, S. (2018). The new genetics of intelligence. Nature Reviews Genetics, doi:10.1038/nrg.2017.104.

Conley, D., & Fletcher, J. (2017). The Genome Factor What the Social Genomics Revolution Reveals about Ourselves, Our History, and the Future. Princeton Press.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.