Psychology 2310A-001

Abnormal Psychology

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.


This theory course is designed to introduce the wide-ranging theories of psychopathology in adults. Topics will include the major DSM-IV diagnostic categories, as well as research and treatment. The course orientation is empirical, with an emphasis on recent research findings with this population.


Antirequisites: Psychology 2030A/B, 3310F/G, 3311


Antirequisites are courses that overlap sufficiently in content that only one can be taken for credit. So if you take a course that is an antirequisite to a course previously taken, you will lose credit for the earlier course, regardless of the grade achieved in the most recent course.


Prerequisite: At least 60% in a 1000 level Psychology course

2 lecture hours and 1 tutorial hour, 0.5 course


Unless you have either the requisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enrol in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites.


       Instructor:                                                   Christian Hahn

       Office and Phone Number:                         SSC6313

       Office Hours:                                              Tuesdays 11:30am-12:30pm



       Teaching Assistant:   Daniel Machado;      Lindsay Szota;   Adam Newton

       Email:            ;;

       Office:                     WH 90B;                  WH90B;            WH60K         

       Office Hours:          By appointment                    


       Time and Location of Classes:   Lectures every Tuesday, 9:30-11:30am, Natural Science 7

       Time and Location of Tutorials: Every Thursday 9:30-10:30am or 10:30-11:30am;

                                                         UCC59, Talbot College 203, or Weldon Library 258

                                                         (consult OWL to find your tutorial location)

If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you.  Please visit: for more information on these resources and on mental health.

Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 ext 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.


Dozois, D.J.A. (2014). Abnormal Psychology: Perspectives, DSM-5 update edition, 5/E. Toronto, ON: Pearson Canada.



  1. Gain broad, empirically-informed knowledge of psychological disorders in adulthood
  2. Understand the varied and interacting etiological factors in different forms of psychopathology
  3. Increase awareness of the impact of psychological disorders on individuals, families, and systems
  4. Develop understanding of important social and cultural considerations in mental illness
  5. Critically evaluate models of psychopathology and related empirical research;
  6. Apply empirical research to address current issues/controversies in the field
  7. Understand the differential benefits of varied approaches to treatment


After successfully completing this course, students should be able to:

Learning Outcome

Learning Activities

How Assessed

Knowledge and Understanding

1. Depth & Breadth of Knowledge

Memorize, describe, and apply main theories, concepts, and principles of abnormal psychology


Class discussion in tutorials



Contribution to class discussion in tutorials

Midterm and final exam

Abnormal Psychology in the News assignments


2. Knowledge and Application of Methodologies

Locate, critically evaluate, and identify implications of information relevant to abnormal psychology in the media and scholarly sources


Class discussion in tutorials


Contribution to class discussion in tutorials

‘Abnormal Psychology in the News’ assignments

3. Application of Knowledge

Apply DSM-5 criteria to provide a diagnosis for a set of symptoms.

Apply theories of psychopathology to classify maladaptive behaviours, cognitions, and symptoms and to identify appropriate evidence based treatments


Class discussion in tutorials



Contribution to class discussion in tutorials

Midterm and final exam


4. Communication Skills

Communicate and critically discuss scientific findings and their implications, as well as biases in how this information is presented in the media

Class discussion in tutorials


Contribution to class discussion in tutorials

‘Abnormal Psychology in the News’ assignments


5. Awareness of Limits of Knowledge

Identify and discuss research issues in need of further investigation and personal reactions (opinions, biases, changes in perspective) to scientific findings, diagnostic definitions, research practices, and treatments


Class discussion in tutorials

Contribution to class discussion in tutorials

‘Abnormal Psychology in the News’ assignments



Course grades are based on performance on two exams (worth 40% each), two “Abnormal Psychology in the News” papers (worth 5% each) and tutorial participation (worth 10%).

Although the Psychology Department does not require instructors to adjust their course grades to conform to specific targets, the expectation is that course marks will be distributed around the following averages:

70%     1000-level and 2000-level courses
72%     2190-2990 level courses
75%     3000-level courses
80%     4000-level courses
The Psychology Department follows Western's grading guidelines, which are as follows (see ):

A+  90-100      One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level
A    80-89        Superior work that is clearly above average
B    70-79        Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory
C    60-69        Competent work, meeting requirements
D    50-59        Fair work, minimally acceptable
F    below 50    Fail

   5.1        EXAMS


The two exams will be composed of multiple-choice and short-answer questions. The final exam will relate only to the material covered subsequent to the midterm. Some exam questions will be related to material covered only in the class lectures or tutorials or only in the text. To do well on the exams, it is therefore necessary to attend all lectures and tutorials as well as studying the text. 



Two “Abnormal Psychology in the News” assignments are to be submitted during the course. The first is due  by the beginning of the tutorial on Oct. 20, and the second is due by the beginning of the last tutorial of the semester (Dec.1). To be considered handed in, you must submit an electronic copy to Turnitin AND submit a hardcopy to your TA. You are encouraged to hand in the assignments earlier than the due dates. NB: No extensions will be given for any reason; late assignments will be given a grade of zero.

Each assignment will be a maximum of 2 pages in length (double spaced, 12-point font). For each of these assignments, you are to find a recent news article from a newspaper or newsmagazine (this can be from a newspaper’s website, but not a blog or other type of website; not a scholarly journal; not a health or science magazine such as Scientific American or Psychology Today) that directly relates to some aspect of abnormal psychology in adults that is covered in this course. For example, it could be a report of recently published research on the causes or treatment of a particular mental disorder that we are covering in the course, findings of a survey of public attitudes toward mental illness, an investigation of individuals living with a mental disorder in the community, etc. The article should have been published within the past 12 months.  A printed copy of the newspaper article must be attached to your assignment, containing the date and name of the newspaper. Your assignment is to critically discuss the significance of this news article with reference to a related section within a chapter of the textbook that we are covering in this course, which you should identify by page number. Your assignment should contain: (1) a brief summary of the article; (2) brief summary of the relevant textbook chapter section; (3) critical discussion; (4) your personal reaction to the article. Your critical discussion should include such issues as: how the article confirms, complements, or contradicts something presented in the identified section of the text; how the article contributes to our understanding of some aspect of mental disorders; potential implications for mental health care; issues that should be investigated further; weaknesses of the article, such as scientific inaccuracy or bias. Your reaction to the article could include something that was surprising to you, something you learned, how it made you think differently about an issue, etc.


The assignment must be printed in 12-point font with student name and number at the top of the page, and handed in at the beginning of tutorial. Grades for these assignments will be based on the clarity and organization of your writing, the accuracy and depth of your understanding of the topic, and the demonstration of critical thinking skills. Marks will be deleted for excess length. Each assignment will constitute 5% of your final grade. A copy of the assignment marking scheme is available for download on the course website.






Your attendance and participation in tutorials will constitute the remaining 10% of your grade. Your grade will reflect your weekly attendance, the extent to which you contribute to class discussion, and the extent to which you pay respectful attention to the TA and your peers during tutorials.


Exam or Assignment



Assignment #1

Thurs., Oct. 19, beginning of tutorial


Midterm exam

Tues., Oct. 24, 9:30-11:30


Assignment #2

Thurs., Dec. 7, beginning of tutorial


Final exam

As scheduled during final exam period





Text Chapter

Sept. 12

Lecture: Introduction and historical perspectives

Chapter 1

Sept. 14

Tutorial: Issues in defining abnormality


Sept. 19

Lecture: Theoretical perspectives on abnormal psychology

Chapter 2

Sept. 21

Tutorial: Behavioral and Cognitive-behavioral approaches


Sept. 26

Lecture: Classification and diagnosis

Chapter 3

Sept. 28

Tutorial: Overview of DSM-5


Oct. 3

Lecture: Anxiety and Related Disorders

Chapter 5

Oct. 5

Tutorial: Case study; CBT for anxiety disorders


Oct. 10


Chapter 5

Oct. 12



Oct. 17

Lecture: Dissociative and Somatic symptom disorders

Chapter 6

Oct. 19

Tutorial: Controversies in dissociative disorders - Assignment #1 due


Oct. 24

Midterm Exam


Oct. 26

No tutorial


Oct. 31

Lecture: Mood disorders

Chapter 8

Nov. 2

Tutorial: Case study; CBT for depression


Nov. 7

Lecture: Schizophrenia

Chapter 9

Nov. 9

Tutorial: Case study; treatment of schizophrenia


Nov. 14

Lecture: Personality disorders

Chapter 12

Nov. 16

Tutorial: Case study; cognitive schema therapy


Nov. 21

Lecture: Sexual and gender identity disorders

Chapter 13

Nov. 23

Tutorial: Case study; gender identity disorder


Nov. 28

Lecture: Eating disorders

Chapter 10

Nov. 30

Tutorial: Case study; eating disorders – Assignment #2 Due


Dec. 7

Lecture: Psychological factors affecting medical conditions

Chapter 7


Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offenses. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offenses because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offense are described at the following link:

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offenses. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and

Possible penalties for a scholastic offense include failure of the assignment, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University.


Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 

Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation:


Office of the Registrar web site:

Student Development Services web site:

Please see the Psychology Undergraduate web site for information on the following:

- Policy on Cheating and Academic Misconduct
- Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations
- Policy on Attendance
- Policy Regarding Makeup Exams and Extensions of Deadlines
- Policy for Assignments
- Short Absences
- Extended Absences
- Documentation
- Academic Concerns
- 2017 Calendar References

No electronic devices, including cell phones and smart watches, will be allowed during exams.