Understanding Psychological Disorders

Ref: C3530562

Due to face to face teaching being suspended unfortunately this course is not currently available for enrolment.

We are launching a range of online courses shortly that may be of interest to you so sign up here to hear more.

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This course provides a critical examination of different types of mental illness. We shall be asking fundamental questions about the nature of health and illness; the reliability of diagnosis; the classification of disorders; the evidence for popular and alternative explanations and the effectiveness of treatments available. The course aims to help you think for yourself rather than offer help or advice. We will explore issues regarding definitions of normality, the boundaries of sanity and the power of medical professionals. The course will examine the diagnosis, some explanations and treatments for Schizophrenia, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Phobias, Eating disorders and Autism. Expect challenging ideas and lively discussion.

Course aim

To explore what it means to be mentally ill and the implications of a diagnosis of abnormality in our society. To be able to understand and critique the classifications, explanations and treatments for a range of psychological disorders.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • You will need your own personal email address so that you’re able to login to the WEA’s digital learning platform: WEA Canvas. You will need to be able to understand how to follow URL links to pages on the internet. If you want to understand more about Canvas please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is open to all and requires no prior learning or experience. It is educational rather than therapeutic. If you are unsure if it is suitable for you then you can request that the tutor contact you by phone for a preliminary chat.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • outline different definitions of abnormality and apply these to different diagnosis.
  • identify key characteristics used in the diagnosis of common psychiatric conditions and to be able to criticise some of these.
  • discuss the power of labels and identities and reflect on how these influence our own behaviour and that of others.
  • understand some of the different types of explanation and treatment provided for some types of mental disorder.
  • feel more prepared take part in action for positive change regarding their own or others perceptions of abnormality in society

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas will be used to provide resources or to support lessons, enable assessment, provide learner feedback and for other activities for individuals away from the course. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • Face to face sessions will include a presentation of key ideas and plenty of opportunity to discuss these.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion

What else do I need to know?

  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • Use of the online opportunities are completely optional and not a course requirement.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre-course reading is required but some background information will be made available prior to the first session.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • There will be a follow up course in the Spring Term.

Download full course information sheet

Understanding Psychological Disorders

Is this course right for me? Request more information

Due to face to face teaching being suspended unfortunately this course is not currently available for enrolment.

We are launching a range of online courses shortly that may be of interest to you so sign up here to hear more.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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