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Developmental Psychpathology

University of Warwick

Department of Psychology 2020/21

Module Code:


Module Name:

Developmental Psychopathology

Module Credits (CATS):


Module Convener

Dieter Wolke

Module Teachers


Module Aims

Developmental Psychopathology combines thinking from Clinical and Developmental Psychology and is interested in understanding the origins, the development and processes that lead to psychopathology and to impairment in everyday functioning. The module first provides a basic introduction into classification systems of psychopathology. Secondly, basic concepts and terms used in developmental Psychopathology (prevalence, incidence) or to describe mechanisms such as risk and protective factors, resources, vulnerability, resilience and co-morbidity are introduced and critically discussed. The major part of the module deals with problems to major disorders including those having their onset in infancy (regulatory problems: crying, feeding, sleeping); childhood (conduct and oppositional defiant disorder and bullying victimisation) and those most frequently having their onset in adolescence or adulthood (e.g. eating disorder and psychosis). For each of the different problems or disorders, the diagnostic features are described, the antecedents explored, an attempt to understand the processes involved in their development is made, and evidence of their long term consequences is examined. The module will be rounded off by a more detailed look at genetically sensitive designs (quantitative and molecular genetics) and an overview of different methodologies for the study of developmental psychopathology ranging from epidemiological to longitudinal studies and experimental approaches (e.g. intervention or treatment studies).

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Understand how psychiatric classification systems work and critically reflect on their advantages but also disadvantages.
  • Have a good understanding of the major concepts and terms in Developmental Psychopathology.
  • Be aware of the definitions, prevalence, development and prognosis of the disorders covered in the course
  • Identify the aspects of the environment, parenting and within child characteristics that have been identified to lead to different infant or childhood/adolescence onset disorders.
  • Be aware of some treatment approaches of dealing with common infancy problems such as excessive crying, feeding or sleeping problems.
  • Show a thorough understanding of the role of the environment and genetics in the development of disorders.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of different methodological approaches to the study of psychopathology.

Assessed by:

One presentation, essay & one 2 hour unseen exam

Module Work Load

Module Length

12 weeks


One 2 hour lecture per week


One seminar per week


Attendance at lectures and seminars is compulsory

Module Assessment


Assessed work:




Assessed work:



Exam: one, 2 hour unseen exam


Module Reading List

Note: It is not required to purchase these as the lectures and seminars are based on original research articles made available for each lecture.

Lewis, M., & Rudolph, K. D. (Eds.). (2015). Handbook of Developmental Psychopathology (3 ed.). London: Springer. Cicchetti, D. & Cohen, D.J. (Eds.), Developmental Psychopathology. Volume 1: Theory and Method. Hoboken , J.J.: John Wiley & Sons Gillberg, C., Harrington, R. & Steinhausen, H.-C. (Eds.), A Clinician’s Handbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press