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The Psychology of Intellectual Disabilities and Sensory Impairments

University of Warwick

Department of Psychology 2021/22

Module Code:


Module Name:

The Psychology of Intellectual Disabilities and Sensory Impairments

Module Credits (CATS):


Module Convener

Jagjeet Jutley-Neilson/ Gemma Gray

Module Teachers

Jagjeet Jutley-Neilson/Gemma Gray

Module Aims

To provide students with the opportunity to • Become aware of the assessment and diagnosis of intellectual disabilities. • Engage and evaluate psychological research and methods of measurement and diagnosis of intellectual disability and sensory impairments. • Explore the types of research methods, theoretical perspectives and questions of value, culture and context • Broaden understanding and knowledge of Intellectual disabilities and sensory impairments from a pre-natal, post-natal and a life-span perspective. • Explore how knowledge from this module is an important area for educational or clinical psychologists. • Understand the historical perspective of care, the dynamics of caring for a child with an intellectual disability and/or sensory impairment.

• Understand approaches to psychological intervention in relation to mental health, challenging behaviour and health promotion

Please note: If students wish to take this module, they are required to have completed

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Identify and appreciate differences in cognitive, social and emotional, behavioural development of individuals with intellectual disabilities and sensory impairments.

  • • Enter into theoretical and evidential debates, and evaluate positions taken by researchers on key issues in intellectual disability and sensory impairment research.

  • • Identify and analyse methodologies used for the measurement and diagnosis of intellectual disabilities by researchers, educational and clinical psychologists.

  • • Demonstrate an understanding of concepts, perspectives, and research methods in the neurobiology of brain development and the effects of genetic and environmental factors in the development of intellectual disability and sensory impairments.

Assessed by:

Essay & exam

Module Work Load

Module Length

12 Weeks


One 2-hour lecture per week


5 seminars (1 hr) and 5 reading group alternate weeks


Attendance at lectures and seminars is compulsory

Module Assessment

Assessed work:






Module Programme

This module covers fundamental areas and phenomena of Intellectual and Developmental disabilities, exploring competing perspectives, contemporary debates and important areas of application. The module looks at Intellectual and sensory impairments pre-natal, post-natal and across the life-span. The module will explore the types of research methods, theoretical perspectives and questions of value, culture and context. The role of brain functioning will be considered throughout this module. This module will also identify how the skills and knowledge gained during this module are relevant to GBC competencies and training which are relevant to future work and studies in the area of Psychology. This module will be of particular interest for students who would like to explore a career as an educational or clinical psychologist.

In the context of contemporary societies and globalisation the field of Developmental Psychology is pivotal to understanding ourselves and others. It needs to be adequately theorised and researched to allow orientation to the psychological phenomena of contemporary individual, family and community lives. This module is aimed at developing in students the necessary knowledge to approach this.

The module will centre around the material being delivered in lectures as well as activities within seminar and Moodle work. All course materials, including all lecture power points and overheads will be available on Moodle. Use will be made of audio and video materials to give examples and explore the approaches and issues involved in the module. Opportunities will be provided for class discussion and consideration and reflection on the relationship of the teaching content to the students’ experience

Module Reading List

Emerson, E. (2012). Clinical psychology and people with intellectual disabilities. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. e-book -


Carr, A., Linehan, C., O'Reilly, G., Walsh, P. N., & McEvoy, J. (Eds.). (2016). The handbook of intellectual disability and clinical psychology practice. Routledge. Harris, J.C., (2010). Intellectual Disability: a guide for families and professionals. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Goodey, C. F. (2016). A history of intelligence and 'intellectual disability': The shaping of psychology in early modern europe. Routledge.

Lightfoot, C. (2009). The Development of Children. 6th ed. New York: Worth Publishers. Jacobson, J. W., Mulick, J. A., & Rojahn, J. (Eds.). (2007). Handbook of intellectual and developmental disabilities. Springer Science & Business Media. Kaufman, A. S. (2018). Contemporary intellectual assessment: Theories, tests, and issues. Guilford Publications. Roth, I. (2010). The Autism Spectrum in the 21st Century: exploring psychology, biology and best practice. London: Jessica Kingsley