Core topics in mental health science: psychosis and dementia

This module draws on biological, psychological and social sciences to investigate psychosis and dementia – conditions of global health concern and socio-economic impact. Building on prior study and skills, you'll broaden your knowledge and understanding of these core mental health science topics and further develops your critical thinking, practical and professional skills. This module suits those with backgrounds in biological and psychological sciences, medical and allied professions.

Vocational relevance

The module is good preparation for further research in mental health science. It will develop skills and knowledge that are relevant to employment within the health sector, life sciences, medical and related fields, and will inform and strengthen professional practice.


SD816 is a compulsory module in our:

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

What you will study

Psychosis and dementia are substantial health concerns in today’s global society and will remain at the forefront of contemporary ‘issues’ in the brain and behavioural sciences for the foreseeable future. Schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are ranked amongst the very highest in terms of global burden of mental disorders, with between 11 (for dementias) and 17 (for psychoses) million disability-adjusted life years (or ‘DALYs’) lost because of these debilitating conditions.

Considering dementia alone, more than 47 million people worldwide currently live with dementia according to the World Health Organisation. With over 7 million new cases every year, the number is set to double by 2030 and triple by 2050. The scale of dementia is vast – there are more than three quarters of a million people living with dementia in England alone, one in six people over the age of 80 have dementia, and one in three people are set to develop dementia in the future.

This module draws on biological, psychological and social sciences to investigate psychosis and dementia, through a collection of guided readings (review articles, book chapters, research papers), commentaries, audiovisual recordings, as well as interviews and seminars centred around diagnosis, causes and interventions. You will be guided in your online studies, week-by-week via a study guide. You will also learn to apply critical appraisal skills to understand, analyse and present research on psychosis and dementia.

The material in each block will follow a common structural plan and coherent framework, with formative assessment. Block 1 focuses on dementia and Block 2 on psychosis, with the emphasis in core readings and commentaries addressing diagnosis, causes and interventions. Block 3 focuses on research methods and critical appraisal (with overviews of diagnostic systems, neuropsychological assessment and clinical trials, and examples based on sample papers in the field of psychosis and dementia).

You will use critical appraisal techniques to evaluate clinical and scientific research papers, and have the opportunity to apply your learning and demonstrate your critical appraisal, communication, and digital and information literacy skills by presenting a target paper of your choice, as a slidecast, for evaluation by your fellow students (peer review), and as part of the formal assessment process.

The module website will be the key hub for all your study resources, including core and supplementary readings, the module’s audiovisual collection, forums, externally linked resources and RSS feeds to target journals available through the OU Library, representing research at the forefront of each discipline and allowing you to engage with the latest findings. Tutor group and module-wide forums and wikis will enable you to discuss aspects of dementia and psychosis along with the latest developments in the field with your fellow students as part of a postgraduate community. The core readings and commentaries address diagnosis, causes and interventions.

A targeted selection of ‘live’ sessions, recorded presentations and audiovisual materials, linked to assignments, will supplement and support learning outcomes for the module, providing you with an enhanced online learning experience. You will also undertake independent study to gain further understanding of the core topics and contemporary issues in mental health science by searching for, reading and evaluating materials (review articles, primary and secondary research papers) beyond those provided on the module.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • Marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • Facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part. If you want to participate, you’ll likely need a headset with a microphone.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

You will be taking part in group activities using a variety of communication methods, including scheduled online forums, wikis and online tools for peer feedback. Some group work is linked to the assessment for this course and must be completed between certain dates.

Course work includes

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment

Future availability

Core topics in mental health science: psychosis and dementia (SD816) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2028.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

Entry requirements

This module is part of our MSc in Mental Health Science (F78) and Postgraduate Diploma in Mental Health Science (E91). You may not study it on its own or as part of any other qualification.

You must complete Introduction to mental health science (S826) before progressing to this module.


Start End England fee Register
05 Oct 2024 Jul 2025 £3150.00

Registration closes 05/09/24 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2028.

Future availability

Core topics in mental health science: psychosis and dementia (SD816) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2028.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

Ways to pay for this module

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. To find out more, see Fees and funding.

Study materials

What's included

With the exception of two set books which you will need to purchase separately (please refer below), all study materials are available online, and are provided through the module website. These include a week-by-week planner and study guide, a guide to the module, core and supplementary reading materials, commentaries, a range of audiovisual resources, live online sessions, online tutor support, online forums and access to scientific journals, ebooks and databases through The Open University Library.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

Materials to buy

Set books

  • Cromby, J., Harper, D. & Reavey, P. Psychology, Mental Health and Distress Palgrave Macmillan £50.99 - ISBN 9780230549562
  • Carlson, N.R. & Birkett, M.A. Physiology of Behavior (13th edn) Pearson Education £57.99 - ISBN 9781292430287

If you have a disability

Some online components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Where possible, alternative formats of module materials will be made available on the module website. Due to our use of external websites and third party content, we cannot guarantee the accessibility of all components of the module.

This module has no printed study materials. It is delivered entirely online (i.e. content is displayed on a computer screen or on mobile devices, although there is the option to download some of the content as Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files for printing). Consequently, time spent using a computer and the internet will be extensive. Parts of the module can be successfully studied using mobile devices, such as tablets.

The module makes extensive use of electronic library resources and uses real-time (synchronous) as well as asynchronous online discussions and an interactive whiteboard space. If you use assistive technology or have a hearing or speech impairment and have concerns about accessing this type of virtual environment and materials you can visit the system provider's website for information and contact The Open University to discuss your options further, before registering. Written transcripts of audiovisual components will be made available where they exist (some external resources, such as videos on YouTube, may not have transcripts).

Adobe PDF versions of most journal articles are available through the OU library as well as HTML full text. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader, and scientific notification may be particularly difficult to read in this way. You will be required to access literature resources electronically. If you use a screen reader to access material on screen, you should check that it is compatible with The Open University Library's electronic databases and resources before you start the module.

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.

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