Mindfulness-based Interventions: Practice, Theoretical Backgrounds and Findings

Module titleMindfulness-based Interventions: Practice, Theoretical Backgrounds and Findings
Module codePSY3434
Academic year2016/7
Module staff

Dr Thorsten Barnhofer (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Mindfulness-based interventions combine intensive training in mindfulness meditation and psycho-educational components as a means of helping patients become better able to respond adaptively to difficult emotions and physical pain. Broadly defined as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment” (Kabat-Zinn, 1990), training of mindfulness is used to help practitioners recognise and disengage from maladaptive patterns of responding, and to cultivate wholesome patterns of thinking and responding, characterised by an accepting and open stance. Over the past decades, there has been an exponential increase in research on mindfulness; empirically tested mindfulness-based interventions are increasingly being offered for preventative and therapeutic purposes.

This module will provide an opportunity to experience mindfulness practices alongside a theoretical introduction that will cover the historical roots of the concept and practices and its relation to cognitive therapy approaches, its mechanisms of action, the rationale for its application in the prevention and treatment of emotional disorders, and the current evidence base for these approaches.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of the module is for you to gain an experiential and theoretical understanding of the concept of mindfulness, to understand how and why mindfulness training is used in preventative and therapeutic contexts, and what the current evidence base for such uses is.

Through attending the weekly seminars and completing the assessments, you will further develop the following academic and professional skills: problem solving (linking theory to practice, developing your own ideas with confidence, showing entrepreneurial awareness, being able to respond to novel and unfamiliar problems), managing structure (identifying key demands of the task, setting clearly defined goals, responding flexibly to changing priorities), time management (managing time effectively individually and within a group), collaboration (respecting the views and values of others, taking initiative and leading others, supporting others in their work, maintaining group cohesiveness and purpose), and audience awareness (presenting ideas effectively in multiple formats, persuading others of the importance and relevance of your views, responding positively and effectively to questions).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Gain an experiential and theoretical understanding of the concept of mindfulness, the rationale for its preventative and therapeutic use, and become able to critically evaluate its use in such contexts
  • 2. Confidently and persuasively orally communicate scientific evidence to substantiate theoretical arguments concerning the nature of human behaviour
  • 3. Operate within a dynamic group debate to win a point

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. 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
  • 5. 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
  • 6. 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
  • 7. 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
  • 8. 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...

  • 9. Interact effectively and supportively within a learning group
  • 10. Manage your own learning using the full range of resources of the discipline and with minimum guidance
  • 11. Describe your own criteria of self-evaluation and challenge received opinion and reflect on your actions, and seek and make use of feedback
  • 12. Select and manage information, and to undertake competently study tasks with minimum guidance
  • 13. Take responsibility for your own work and criticise it
  • 14. 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
  • 15. Act autonomously with minimal supervision or direction, within agreed guidelines
  • 16. Manage time effectively to meet deadlines

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The module consists of a series of eleven seminars. Following sessions devoted to the introduction of the subject, you will run through an eight-week mindfulness course. In parallel to this course we will cover the theoretical rationale and recent findings on mindfulness-based interventions in a number of different domains including their preventative use in schools, clinical contexts, and to prevent cognitive ageing. The seminar series will finish with sessions providing an outlook of likely future developments in the area and wider societal implications.

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 (11 x 3 hours)
Guided Independent Study57Reading in preparation for weekly seminars, following reading list recommendations linked to ELE module homepage and independently exploring further sources of information using links provided
Guided Independent Study30Further exploratory research and subsequent reading in preparation for writing CA component
Guided Independent Study30Further exploratory research and subsequent reading in preparation for final exam


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Small group discussions within seminarsOngoing1-11, 13-14Oral, within plenary sessions

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
Examination603 hoursAllWritten, generic feedback posted on module ELE page
Essay402000 wordsAllWritten, individual feedback on script, generic feedback posted on ELE


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay examinationExaminationAllAugust Ref/Def
EssayEssayAllAugust 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 / re-assessment period. Where you have been referred/deferred in the essay you will be required to resubmit the essay. 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

The following articles provide an introduction to the subject area:

Barnhofer, T., Huntenburg, J., Lifshitz, M., Wild, J., Antonova, E., & Margulies, D. (2016). How mindfulness training may help to reduce vulnerability for recurrent depression: a neuroscientific perspective. Clinical Psychological Science.

Hölzel, B. K., Lazar, S. W., Gard, T., Schuman-Olivier, Z., Vago, D. R., & Ott, U. (2011). How Does Mindfulness Meditation Work? Proposing Mechanisms of Action From a Conceptual and Neural Perspective. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6(6), 537–559. doi:10.1177/1745691611419671

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-Based Interventions in Context?: Past, Present, and Future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, (2002), 144–156. doi:10.1093/clipsy/bpg016

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Clinical psychology, mindfulness

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date