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Individuality & Its Roots - EDU00078M

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  • Department: Education
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Kathryn Asbury
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2021-22

Module aims

This module aims to build students’ knowledge and understanding of how and why individuals vary in their cognitive ability, personality, motivation and interests. Over the course of the module we will introduce students to what is currently known about biological bases of behaviour, such as the brain and the genome, and discuss the relevance of behavioural genetics and neuroscience to psychology and education, exploring recent studies and debates in these fields.

Students will also engage with the differential psychology literature and will be supported in developing their knowledge and understanding of psychological constructs such as intelligence and personality. They will be exposed to, and engage with, the many debates that exist around the definition and measurement of such constructs. The knowledge acquired during this module will be used as a base for exploring the importance of individual differences in educational contexts.


Module learning outcomes

Subject content

By the end of this module students will have developed:

  • Broad knowledge, and a nuanced understanding, of key theories and empirical research in biological psychology.
  • Confidence in their capacity to explain what is known about biological and environmental influences on human traits and behaviours.
  • Ability to identify key structures of the brain and genome, and awareness of new developments in these areas.
  • A knowledge base that will allow them to explore and debate the key features of educational neuroscience and behavioural genetics, and their implications.
  • Broad knowledge, and a nuanced understanding, of key theories and research in individual differences psychology.
  • Knowledge and skills necessary to consider and question theories and measures of intelligence, personality, motivation and interests.
  • Confidence to discuss the relevance of individual differences theories to education, with reference to a range of theoretical and empirical evidence.

Academic and graduate skills

Students will learn how to:

  • Formulate and present a persuasive, articulate academic argument that is well supported and well structured.
  • Synthesise research and theory from biological, behavioural and social science literature.
  • Critically evaluate research for reliability and validity, and explore implications for education.
  • Discuss, with reference to evidence, the ethics of applying genetic and neuroscientific research to education.

Module content

Each week students will be given access to one online (asynchronous) lecture in biological psychology and one in differential psychology.  These lectures will cover topics including personality, intelligence, positive psychology, neuroscience, neuroimaging, the adolescent brain and an intro to the genome.  These asynchronous online lectures will be supplemented by face to face small group sessions that will build on material covered during the lectures.


Task Length % of module mark
Open Examination (3 day paper over 4 days)
Individuality & its Roots
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Open Examination (3 day paper over 4 days)
Individuality & its Roots
N/A 100

Module feedback

Written feedback on exam and formative tasks.  Students can discuss assessments and feedback in face to face sessions with their supervisor, or book an appointment to discuss with the module tutor. Summative 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

Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2016). Personality and individual differences. John Wiley & Sons.

Blakemore, S.J. & Frith, U. (2005). The Learning Brain: Lessons for Education. Wiley-Blackwell.

Mareschal, D., Butterworth, B., & Tolmie, A. (Eds.). (2013). Educational neuroscience. John Wiley & Sons.

Maltby, J., Day, L., & Macaskill, A. (2010). Personality, individual differences and intelligence. Pearson Education.

Asbury, K. & Plomin, R. (2013). G is for Genes: The Impact of Genetics on Education. Wiley-Blackwell.

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.