Psychiatry and Mental Illness

PLEASE NOTE: This module is inactive. Visit the Module Directory to view modules and variants offered during the current academic year.

The details
Sociology and Criminology
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 27 June 2025
25 May 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

In the first term, Concepts, Boundaries and Causes, we will start by looking at some of the different types of mental illness now included in formal psychiatric classifications such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). We will then explore their foundation in medicine’s categorical model of disease, the criticisms of the DSM, the way the boundaries of mental illness have changed and expanded over time, some of the reasons for the expansion, and at analyses of the concepts of mental health and illness and at mental health globally. We will also examine epidemiological studies seeking to assess levels of mental illness, its social distribution, and the measures they use. This leads on to key issues about causation, including the role of genetic and brain processes, the impact of childhood adversity, the role of life events, and of cultural processes. At the end of this 15-credit module students will have an understanding of the term mental illness, of the ways mental illnesses have been classified and measured, and of the changing boundaries of mental illness as well as its distribution across social groups. They will also have some knowledge of the data on the different causes of mental illness.

In the second term the focus is on Mental Health Services and Treatment. We will look at the development of asylum care, the location for the emergence of psychiatry as a profession, the growth of office psychiatry, and then at the twentieth century move into the community. We will examine current mental health services, issues of violence, legal detention and stigma, the power of psychiatrists and the role played by other professionals in the mental health field: clinical psychologists, psychiatric social workers and mental health workers. We will then look at the different types of treatment for mental illness - physical and psychological - including digital therapies, and at how they can be evaluated, and what the evaluations show. At the end of this 15-credit module students will have an understanding of the changing ways in which societies have responded to madness and mental illness, of the professionals involved and of current services and treatments.

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

Please click on the link below to view the Introduction video to SC326 Psychiatry and Mental Illness

Learning and teaching methods

Most modules in Sociology are divided into lectures of around 50 minutes and a class of around 50 minutes. Some are taught as a 2hr seminar, and others via a 50-minute lecture and 2-hr lab.

Lectures, classes, labs and seminars will be taught face-to-face. The lectures will provide an overview of the substantive debates around the topic of the week, while the classes will give you the opportunity to reflect on your learning and actively engage with your peers to develop your understanding further.

You are strongly encouraged to attend the classes and to do the relevant reading before the class, as they provide an opportunity to talk with your class teacher and other students about the relevant topic. The classes will be captured and available via Listen Again. However, if you want to gain the most you can from these classes it is very important that you attend and engage. Please note that the recording of classes is at the discretion of the teacher.

There are two assignments each term (and the final exam – see below), as well as the required reading for each week.

Please note that you should be spending up to eight hours per week undertaking your own private study (reading, preparing for classes or assignments, etc.) on each of your modules (e.g. 32 hours in total across four 30-credit modules)


  • 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
Exam  Main exam: In-Person, Open Book, 180 minutes during Summer (Main Period) 
Exam  Reassessment Main exam: In-Person, Open Book, 180 minutes during September (Reassessment 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:
Dr Tara Mahfoud, email:
Professor Joan Busfield, Dr Tara Mahfoud
Jane Harper, Undergraduate Administrator, Telephone: 01206 873052 E-mail:



External examiner

Dr Emily Gray
University of Warwick
Assistant Professor of Criminology
Available via Moodle
Of 778 hours, 76 (9.8%) hours available to students:
702 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

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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