Psychiatry and Mental Illness

The details
Sociology and Criminology
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 02 July 2021
07 October 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA CL83 Sociology with Social Psychology,
BA CL93 Sociology with Social Psychology (Including Placement Year),
BA CLV3 Sociology with Social Psychology (Including Year Abroad),
BA LCJ8 Sociology with Psychosocial Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA LJ8C Sociology with Psychosocial Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA LJC8 Sociology with Psychosocial Studies,
BA L333 Criminology with Counselling Skills,
BA L334 Criminology with Counselling Skills (Including Year Abroad),
BA L335 Criminology with Counselling Skills (Including Placement Year),
BA L332 Sociology with Counselling Skills

Module description

The first term looks critically at the field of mental illness, focusing on how the concept of mental illness has been developed by psychiatrists, on the way in which the types of mental illness and their boundaries have been expanded over time, at some of the causes of the expansion and at whether it is possible to distinguish the normal and the pathological, considering some of the concepts and theories that can help us understand these complex developments.

It looks at how mental illness is measured in epidemiological surveys, at the data generated on the distribution of mental illness by class, gender and ethnicity and at how the differences observed can be understood. It then considers the debates about causation, including the role of genetic, psychological, social and cultural factors. Throughout the debates are explored using a number of examples such as depression, anorexia nervosa and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

The second term focuses on mental health services and treatment. It first looks at the development of asylum care, the location for the emergence of psychiatry as a profession, and at the development of mental health services in the community in the twentieth century.

It also considers the concepts and theoretical perspectives that can help us understand service development, examines the current mental health services, the role played by other professionals in the mental health field, such as psychiatric social workers, mental health nurses, and clinical psychologists, examining the emergence of these groups and professionalisation.

It also considers the controversial issue of compulsory detention and issues concerning the difficulties of predicting dangerousness, and also stigmatisation. Finally, we look at different types of treatment and at how they can be evaluated.

Module aims

The aim of these two 15-credit optional modules, which can be taken as a single 30 credit module, is to look critically at the field of mental illness, at psychiatric thinking and practice, and at mental health services.

Module learning outcomes

To explore and understand the field of mental illness.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

There is one lecture and a separate smaller class each week


  • Bentall, Richard P. (2010) Doctoring the mind: why psychiatric treatments fail, London: Penguin.
  • Scull, Andrew. (1979) Museums of madness: the social organization of insanity in nineteenth-century England, London: Allen Lane.
  • The New Definition of a Mental Disorder [contains DSM-5 definition of mental disorder],
  • Goffman, Erving. (1990, 1963) Stigma: notes on the management of spoiled identity, Harmondsworth: Penguin. vol. Penguin psychology
  • American Psychiatric Association; American Psychiatric Association. DSM-5 Task Force. (2013) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5, Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
  • Christopher Lane. (2007) Shyness: how normal behavior became a sickness, New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Peter Conrad and Deborah Potter. (2000) 'From Hyperactive Children to ADHD Adults: Observations on the Expansion of Medical Categories', in Social Problems. vol. 47 (4) , pp.559-582
  • Shaw, J.; Hunt, I. M.; Flynn, S.; Meehan, J.; Robinson, J.; Bickley, H.; Parsons, R.; McCann, K.; Burns, J.; Amos, T.; Kapur, N.; Appleby, L. (2006) 'Rates of mental disorder in people convicted of homicide: National clinical survey', in The British Journal of Psychiatry. vol. 188 (2) , pp.143-147
  • Susie Orbach. (2005) Hunger strike: the anorectic's struggle as a metaphor for our age, London: Karnac Books.
  • Kirsch, Irving; Deacon, Brett J; Huedo-Medina, Tania B; Scoboria, Alan; Moore, Thomas J; Johnson, Blair T. (2008) 'Initial Severity and Antidepressant Benefits: A Meta-Analysis of Data Submitted to the Food and Drug Administration', in PLoS Medicine. vol. 5 (2) , pp.e45-
  • Bebbington, P.; Jonas, S.; Kuipers, E.; King, M.; Cooper, C.; Brugha, T.; Meltzer, H.; McManus, S.; Jenkins, R. (2011) 'Childhood sexual abuse and psychosis: data from a cross-sectional national psychiatric survey in England', in The British Journal of Psychiatry. vol. 199 (1) , pp.29-37
  • Busfield, J. (2012) 'Challenging claims that mental illness is increasing and mental well-being declining', in social science and medicine. vol. 75 (3) , pp.581-588
  • Falk Leichsenring et al. (2009) 'Short-Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Randomized, Controlled Trial', in American Journal of Psychiatry. vol. 166 (8) , pp.875-881
  • Scull, Andrew. (2014) Cultural sociology of mental illness: an A-to-Z guide, ©2014: SAGE Publications.
  • Scull, Andrew. (1977) Decarceration: community treatment and the deviant : a radical view, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. vol. A Spectrum book
  • George W. Brown; Tirril O. Harris. (1978) Social origins of depression: a study of psychiatric disorder in women, London: Routledge. vol. International Behavioural and Social Science Library : Mind and Medicine
  • Plomin, Robert; Davis, Oliver S.P. (2009) 'The future of genetics in psychology and psychiatry: microarrays, genome-wide association, and non-coding RNA', in Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. vol. 50 (1-2) , pp.63-71
  • Busfield, Joan. (2011) Mental illness, Cambridge: Polity. vol. Key concepts
  • Hollingshead, August de Belmont; Redlich, Fredrick C. (1958) Social class and mental illness: a community study, New York: Wiley.
  • American Psychiatric Association; American Psychiatric Association. DSM-5 Task Force. (c2013) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5, Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
  • Pilgrim, David; Rogers, Anne. (2009) 'Survival and its discontents: the case of British psychiatry', in Sociology of Health & Illness. vol. 31 (7) , pp.947-961
  • Erving Goffman. (2007) Asylums: essays on the social situation of mental patients and other inmates, New Brunswick, NJ: Aldine Transaction.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Moodle Quiz 1.    10% 
Coursework   Moodle Quiz 2.    10% 
Coursework   Essay 1.  18/12/2020  40% 
Coursework   Essay 2.  26/03/2021  40% 
Exam  Main exam: 24hr during Summer (Main Period) 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Joan Busfield, email:
Professor Joan Busfield and Dr Shaul Bar Haim
Jane Harper, Undergraduate Administrator, Telephone: 01206 873052 E-mail:



External examiner

Dr Jennifer Fleetwood
Goldsmiths, University of London
Senior Lecturer in Criminology
Available via Moodle
Of 4221 hours, 3 (0.1%) hours available to students:
4218 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Sociology and Criminology

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