Cognitive Behavioural Approaches to Mood Disorders

Module titleCognitive Behavioural Approaches to Mood Disorders
Module codePSY3425
Academic year2018/9
Module staff

Dr Lexy Newbold (Convenor)

Dr Tobias Stevens (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Mood disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder, affect millions of people in the United Kingdom and for many can be highly debilitating. Psychological therapies, in particular cognitive behavioural therapy, are increasingly offered to people with depression and bipolar disorder as an addition or an alternative to medication. Through this module you will gain a thorough grounding in the theory and understanding of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) approaches to mood disorders. We will introduce you to current areas of development in this field, with contributions from staff in the Mood Disorders Centre who are engaged in cutting-edge research in this field. In taking this module, you will become familiar with not only the theory, but also the application of CBT for mood disorders and you will gain an awareness of current issues and controversies surrounding how the National Health Service delivers these interventions.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This seminar builds on Stage 1 and 2 modules in abnormal and clinical psychology and related areas and makes links between acquired knowledge about areas of abnormal psychology and basic knowledge about psychological interventions. It will familiarise you with current cognitive-behavioural research and treatment approaches to depression, as well as the current recommended system of delivery in England. Key areas of knowledge to be covered include:

  • The presentation of mood disorders (syndromes, first person accounts, symptoms, prevalence, incidence, demographics, consequences)
  • Aetiology of mood disorders
  • Vulnerability and resilience to mood disorders within a cognitive-behavioural perspective
  • Cognitive models of mood disorders and the evidence base for theory and therapy
  • Cognitive behavioural case formulation
  • CBT for mood disorders
  • Delivery of CBT for mood disorders in the UK
  • Current areas of research development

The seminar will provide a forum for exploring, formulating, and refining career goals. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a psychological practitioner in the NHS or a career in clinical psychology the seminar will assist in developing necessary skills for postgraduate study or early career employment. The seminar will give you direct experience with specific treatment methods and theoretical orientations used by CBT practitioners, as well as insight into how CBT practitioners and researchers can effectively interact with health care commissioners, research funding agencies and the general public.

In addition this module will give you experience in communicating with diverse audiences and seeking and responding to feedback, problem solving (through assimilating and collating new and diverse information, and relating theory and research findings to real life clinical and policy issues), collaboration (through co-operative group working and supporting the learning of others), and effective time management.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Describe the main empirical findings, theoretical approaches, research methods and empirically-validated psychological treatments relevant to cognitive-behavioural approaches to mood disorders
  • 2. Evaluate scientifically systems of conceptualisation, intervention and evaluation used in cognitive behavioural therapies for mood disorders
  • 3. Solve, at an academic level, some of the problems faced by psychological therapists when working with people with mood disorders
  • 4. Acquire detailed, systematic and comprehensive knowledge of one key theoretical orientation (cognitive-behavioural) that underpins current psychological research and therapy for mood disorders
  • 5. Acquire knowledge of the key empirical findings relevant to the aetiology, maintenance and treatment of mood disorders within a psychological framework

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 6. Acquire detailed, systematic and comprehensive knowledge within the discipline, with in-depth specialisation at the forefront of the discipline in certain areas, and demonstrate advanced critical understanding of this knowledge and of the limits and provisional nature of this knowledge
  • 7. Review and critically evaluate published work at an advanced level and identify the strengths and weaknesses of this work, and at an advanced level structure this literature to present logical, coherent and sustained arguments to support conclusions at an advanced level
  • 8. Address systematically complex problems at an advanced level which may be framed within unpredictable contexts, think critically, creatively and independently, and fully appreciate the complexities of the issues
  • 9. Understand and apply essential principles in designing novel research, and critically evaluate and analyse empirical evidence, and assess the reliability of empirical evidence using a range of defined techniques at an advanced level
  • 10. Illustrate the wider ethical issues relating to the subject and its application at an advanced level

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 11. Interact effectively and supportively within a learning group
  • 12. Manage your own learning using the full range of resources of the discipline and with minimum guidance
  • 13. Describe your own criteria of self-evaluation and challenge received opinion and reflect on your actions, and seek and make use of feedback
  • 14. Select and manage information, and to undertake competently study tasks with minimum guidance
  • 15. Take responsibility for your own work and criticise it
  • 16. Engage effectively in debate in a professional manner and produce detailed and coherent written work; identify complex problems and apply appropriate knowledge and methods for their solution with confidence and flexibility
  • 17. Act autonomously with minimal supervision or direction, within agreed guidelines
  • 18. Manage time effectively to meet deadlines

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

You must come to the seminars having read the material assigned for that date. The success of our discussion and of your learning depends on doing so. The following outlines the areas we will cover:

  • Background and epidemiology. How do mood disorders present themselves? What are mood disorders? What are the main diagnoses and symptoms? Review of frequency, prevalence, impact, mortality and recurrence of mood disorders.
  • Phenomenology of mood disorders illustrated through a first person account from someone who has recovered from depression.
  • Cognitive theories of mood disorders and the evidence base for theory and therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioural case conceptualisation.
  • The content of CBT for mood disorders.
  • Current areas of development in CBT for mood disorders.

Learning and teaching

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 Teaching33Seminars (including revision seminars) (11 x 3 hours)
Guided Independent Study80Reading and preparation for seminars
Guided Independent Study37Writing of coursework essay and revision for exam


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentation15 minutesAllOral and peer feedback

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
Coursework402000 words1-10, 12, 14-18Written
Examination603 hours1, 3-10, 16, 18Generic


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
CourseworkCoursework1-10, 12, 14-18August Ref/Def
ExaminationExamination1, 3-10, 16, 18August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Two assessments are required for this module. Where you have been referred/deferred in the examination you will have the opportunity to take a second examination in the August/September re-assessment period. Where you have been referred/deferred in the coursework you will be required to resubmit the coursework. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%; deferred marks are not capped.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Clark, D. A., Beck, A. T., and Alford, B. A. (1999). Scientific foundations of cognitive theory and therapy of depression. New York: Wiley.
  • Gotlib, I. H. and Hammen, C. L. (2009). Handbook of depression: second edition. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Westbrook, D., Kennerley, H. and Kirk, J. (2007). An introduction to cognitive behaviour therapy: skills and applications. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Additional suggested texts:

  • Beck, A.T., Rush, A.J., Shaw, B.F., and Emery G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: Guildford Press.
  • Bennett-Levy, J., Richards, D.A., Farrand, P. et al. (2010). Oxford guide to low intensity CBT interventions. Oxford:
  • Oxford University Press.
  • Lewis, G. (2002). Sunbathing in the rain: A cheerful book about depression. London:
  • Power, M. (2004). Mood Disorders: A Handbook of Science and Practice. Chichester, UK: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

  • The following guidelines issues by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) are highly relevant, and are available online at:
    • NICE (2006). The management of bipolar disorder in adults, children and adolescents, in primary and secondary care. London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
    • NICE (2009). The treatment and management of depression in adults. London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Key words search

Psychology, depression, bipolar disorder, mood disorders, cognitive behavioural therapy, psychological therapy, CBT

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

PSY2205 Personality and Individual Differences or equivalent

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date