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Unit information: Theoretical and Clinical Neuropsychology. in 2016/17

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Theoretical and Clinical Neuropsychology.
Unit code PSYCM0035
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Kit Pleydell-Pearce
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Psychological Science
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences


This unit comprises two components described as “Part A” and “Part B”. These components are defined immediately below.

Part A: Clinical Neuropsychology in Practice

Part A seeks to provide students with a detailed understanding of a diverse range of issues connected to clinical neuropsychology in practice. One component of the teaching provides students with taught content provided by subject matters across a range of medically relevant disciplines (e.g. neurosurgery, neurophysiology, dementia, epilepsy, movement disorders, sleep disorders, radiology, MRI) and candidates can discuss and probe the expert’s role and knowledge and in particular explore how these various related disciplines interface with the role of a clinical neuropsychologist in a day to day medical context. A second component of the aim is to require students to give presentations of a specific clinical case indicating symptoms/reasons for referral, assessment of accompanying medical reports, details of neuropsychological tests administered (and why), implications of the test results, inferences and formulations concerning the patient presentation (including differential diagnosis where relevant), consideration of other factors relevant to patient (e.g. socio-economic, family problems, existence of parallel conditions or pre-conditions), suggestions for therapeutic interventions (and their assessment when tried), details of long term follow up, recommendations for treatment and assessment of treatment regimes. These presentations are to be performed in a manner which is similar to the Qualification in Clinical Neuropsychology (QiCN) formal viva which is part of the process whereby our candidates achieve final (accredited) practice rights and status as a full practitioner member of the British Psychological Society Division of Neuropsychology. These case presentations are presented in front of peers and students are expected to attend all case presentations. Students are also required to submit a 3000 word case review which is written in a format that is consistent with Division of Neuropsychology viva requirements.

Part B: Theoretical neuropsychology

Part B focuses upon key theoretical issues within Neuropsychology. The Unit involves 10 x 2 hour seminars, and each focuses upon a basic function (e.g. attention, memory, emotion) while also focusing upon a major neuropsychological syndrome that is related to that function (e.g. neglect, emotional disorders). This means that students will learn both about theories of brain function, and about particular syndromes that might be typically observed following various kinds of brain damage or dysfunction. The Unit will involve coverage of both cortical and subcortical function and will emphasise system-wide contributions to integrated cognition and behaviour.

The aim of the unit is to provide an overview of theories concerned with the cerebral bases of some key cognitive, affective and psychomotor processes. This will provide students with an understanding of issues that are at the frontiers of contemporary research and theory. These questions are not simply issues associated with functional neuroanatomy. For example, there may be agreement that a particular brain region or system is associated with a particular function (e.g. vision). However, the functions and algorithms underlying processing of visual information remain controversial. It is the attempt to specify these processes, within a hypothesis-testing scientific framework, that is the focus of this unit.

Intended learning outcomes

Part A:

The principal learning outcome is to develop competence in clinical practice and how that practice relates to interactions with a range of allied medical specialities. A second major learning outcome is that students will be taught to prepare for critical professional viva experiences which they may experience in their later professional life. Finally, Part A helps students to appreciate the manner in which case presentations should be assessed, examined and presented within formal “NHS Style” review format.

Part B:

At the end of the unit, candidates will have an understanding of a range of contemporary theories concerning cerebral bases of cognitive, affective and psychomotor function. Candidates will also realise that making inferences about underlying function can be problematic, and will appreciate the need for a critical approach to interpretation of empirical data.

Teaching details

Content of all lectures and presentations in this UNIT will be broadcast live over the unit (and recorded for later re-play for revision purposes). Candidates are free to attend in person but the majority of Part B is provided via distance learning web interface tools (Adobe Connect).

Part A:

10 X 1 hour hour lectures provided by clinical subject matter experts. Students must attend 10 X 1 hour case presentations provided by their peers and will be expected to make a significant contribution to discussion. Prior to case presentations there will be a formal lecture-led introduction which provides detailed background concerning the aims and assessment principles that underpin this component.

Part B:

10 x 2 hour lectures

Assessment Details

Part A: 30 minute case presentation which is assessed in viva style format. Additionally a 3000 word case report must be submitted (which expands upon the presentation delivered by the student). These two components of Part A each deliver 33% of the total unit mark (Part A total 66%).

Part B: 2000 words coursework essay which requires students to provide evidence of critical understanding of a topic in theoretical neuropsychology (34% of total unit mark).

Reading and References

Part A:

Cochrane reviews:

The TRIP Database direct, hyperlinked access to the largest collection of 'evidence-based material on the web as well as articles from premier on-line journals such as the BMJ, JAMA, NEJM etc

EB Users' Guides published as a series in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). on behalf of the Evidence-Based Medicine Working Group.

The human brain and its disorders (2007). Richards et al. OUP

Part B:

  • Kolb, B. and Wishaw, I.Q. (2009). Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology. Worth Publishers, New York (6thEdition).
  • Feinberg, T. E. & Farah, M. J., editors (2003). Behavioural Neurology and Neuropsychology. New York: McGraw-Hill (Second Edition).

Please note that this unit will be focused upon key papers from the peer reviewed academic literature, and not upon one or a few key texts.