PY0677 - Mental Health, Cognition, and the Brain

What will I learn on this module?

On this module you will be introduced to applying knowledge about the brain and cognition to mental health. You will understand how normal cognitive processes can be used to understand mental health and dementias. It will provide you with an insight into the application of skills clinical psychologists use during case conceptualisation and devising interventions, including deepening your understanding of symptoms, the potential mechanisms which underpin them and how compromised cognitive capacities constrain day-to-day life. Through lecture material and workshops, you will be exposed to examples of research methods used to investigate the relationship between cognition and mental health including functional and structural imaging, cognitive task design and real-world data capture. You will be able to highlight gaps and critically reflect on the strengths and weakness of current approaches.
You will examine elements of cognition within the context of mental health and substance use disorders as well as some dementias to appreciate what happens as cognition “breaks-down”. Examples will be included from mental health disorders, dementias and substance use disorders including alcohol use, misuse and abuse. You will be able to define cognitive processes evident in mental health, and how they relate to the brain. You will recognize the inherent strengths in an interdisciplinary approach to apply cognitive knowledge to increase your understanding of mental health. Appreciating mental health across different levels of biological/cognitive representation will deepen your knowledge of symptoms and how they might impinge upon day-to-day life. Through active learning, you will develop and apply your research skills within clinical psychology discipline and gain skills in communication for a variety of audiences.

How will I learn on this module?

On this module you will learn through a combination of online and face to face lectures and workshops, along with independent study. You will attend two hour of interactive lectures each week to learn about how cognitive and the brain relate to mental health, fortnightly there will be additional content delivered online to support the topic in that week. Lectures will focus on one topic and provide the framework for the module topic. Reading lists will be provided to support each lecture. You will engage in directed study supported by reading lists. The current literature will support the topics covered in each lecture. Reading lists will guide your independent learning and increase the depth of your understanding of the topics covered. These will be applied readings rather than those which focus on cognitive theory. You will engage in tutor supported discussions with your peers, learn to give and receive peer feedback as well as receiving feedback from your tutor. Workshops will support the development of your confidence with the material and allow you to practice application of knowledge gained through lectures and independent reading. The learning strategies of interactive lectures, workshops, directed and independent study aim to develop conceptual knowledge of cognition, the brain and mental health, and illustrate the methods used to investigate it. Learning strategies will enhance your skills e.g. research, critical thinking, communication.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported through the use of e-learning portals resources (Blackboard), which will provide access to the lecture and workshop materials. Materials which will be made available to you include, PowerPoint slides, handouts, reading lists, directed assessment related-activities, links to relevant video clips. Technology enabled learning will be implemented using Panopto lecture recording. There will be online discussion boards separately addressing assessments and content for the module, where tutors can engage in transparent discussion with students so that you might learn from one another’s questions and concerns. Tutorial content will also be made available online so that students are able to discuss the content with tutors.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge and Understanding:
• MK1 You will be expected to demonstrate critical understanding and integrated comprehension of a range of theoretical approaches to understanding mental health, cognition and the brain. This will include understanding how healthy cognitive processes can inform the understanding of mental health symptoms, how compromised cognition can impinge on day-to-day functioning in people with poor mental health, and how cognition may play role in the vulnerability towards developing a mental health condition. You will demonstrate your understanding of how cognition relates to mental symptoms, disorders and their treatments, including dementias and substance use disorders.

Intellectual / Professional Skills & Abilities (IPSA):
• MIP1 You will build employability through demonstration of effective communication to a range of audiences and you will successfully source, critique and review a range of peer reviewed research publications.
• MIP2 You will be able to understand how to apply your knowledge of specific issues about how the relationship between cognition, the brain and mental health can be useful in a clinical context. Such skills are valuable for enhancing employability.
• MIP3 You will take charge of your own career development learning, through critical self evaluation and reflection on the relevance of the module for career enhancement and future learning. These skills are useful for your future employability.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural Awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• MPV1 You will understand the role of research to contribute to knowledge generation and dissemination, demonstrating awareness of ethical principles thus demonstrating the characteristics of a Northumbria Psychology Graduate.

How will I be assessed?

Formative Assessment will take place through discussion and/or observation based tasks with the module tutor and with peers, where you will consider questions, case studies, and presentations relating to the mental health topics (MK1; MK2; MIP1; MPV1).

Summative Assessment:
The assessment consists of two individual pieces of work:
1. A written assignment (maximum 3500 words) that requires you to critically consider one of the topics covered in the module, using two forms of communication:
a) outline the nature of the problem for an intelligent lay person to understand; and
b) for a psychology educated audience devise appropriate design and methodologies to investigate this problem from a scientific perspective (MK1, MIP1, MIP2, MPV1). This assessment is worth 90% of the module mark.

2. The second assessment is a self-reflective account in which you will be asked to consider how this module has influenced your employability and future career (MIP3). This will be worth 10% of the module mark (500 words).

Formative Assessments:
Verbal group feedback in addition to peer feedback will be provided through discussion during activities.

Summative Assessments:
Individual written feedback will be provided on the electronic submission. This will be in the form of a level-specific rubric and written comments that will identify a minimum of one strength and two areas for improvement.
General feedback will be provided via the eLearning Portal.
For the second summative assessment
you will be required to arrange a tutorial with your Personal Tutor for formal feedback on your reflection.





Module abstract

This module has been designed for students who want to enrich their applied understanding of mental health symptoms, how they relate to the brain and cognition. Mental health symptoms are complex and not necessarily bound within diagnostic categories. For instance, psychotic symptoms are found in post traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorders as well as psychotic disorders. Understanding how cognitive processes are related to mental health provides a transdiagnostic understanding of mental health as well as applied cognition. Appreciating the interaction between cognition, the brain and mental health is important for both the development of interventions and understanding the constraints within which they need to operate.
Mental Health, Cognition and the Brain is an interdisciplinary module which leverages from your knowledge of cognition and the brain to understand mental health symptoms and disorders. The module will provide you with an understanding of different elements of cognition and how they are present in mental health disorders, dementias and substance use disorders. The applied topics will extend your understanding of the role of cognition in these circumstances so that you appreciate how cognitive processes present in healthy populations are also relevant to different conditions, as well as how they directly relate to symptoms and real world functioning. Through this module your understanding of both cognition and mental health will be enriched.

Course info

UCAS Code C800

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with optional study abroad year

Department Psychology

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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