Qualification - Foundation Diploma in Abnormal Psychology

Course CodeVPS101
Fee CodeFD
Duration (approx)1000 hours
QualificationFoundation Diploma

Abnormal Psychology Diploma

  • Learn how to identify different conditions with knowledge of symptoms which are exhibited by changes in behaviour.
  • Understand the causes of abnormal behaviour which are suffered by different age groups and types.
  • The Foundation Diploma requires students to study and pass a total of 10 Modules.
  • There are 9 Core Modules made up of Abnormal Psychology, Introduction to Psychology, Developmental, Learning and Behavioural Conditions, Child Mental Health, Adult Mental Health, Anger Management, Stress Management, Psychopharmacology and Neuropsychology.
  • Students then select 1 elective module from Biopsychology I or II and Developmental Psychology.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Qualification - Foundation Diploma in Abnormal Psychology.
 Anger Management BPS111
 Introduction To Psychology BPS101
 Stress Management VPS100
 Child and Adolescent Mental Health BPS214
 Developmental, Learning and Behavioural Conditions in Adolescents and Children BPS215
 Managing Mental Health in Adults BPS216
 Abnormal Psychology BPS307
 Neuropsychology BPS306
 Psychopharmacology (Drugs and Psychology) BPS302
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 1 of the following 3 modules.
 Biopsychology I BPS108
 Biopsychology II BPS204
 Developmental Psychology BPS210

Note that each module in the Qualification - Foundation Diploma in Abnormal Psychology is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

Sample Course Notes - What is Abnormal Behaviour?

Types of behaviour can result from a wide selection of internal and external stimuli.  Behavioural problems in younger children, for example, may be the result of their home or school environment.  Where symptoms are not noticed and a cause identified then the condition can worsen if it is not treated.

Causes of abnormal behaviour may be behavioural, medical (i.e. what biological factors may lead to the traits identified), and cognitive (i.e. what thought processes or perceptions are affecting behaviour or reasoning).  One behavioural disorder type that we hear more frequently of today are Impulse Control Disorders.


Impulse control disorders are disorders where a person acts on a certain impulse, which may be harmful, but they cannot resist.

Common Impulse Control Disorders include:

Intermittent Explosive Disorder

IED is an impulse disorder that is often accompanied by an underlying personality disorder. Many psychiatric disorders are associated with impulsive aggression, but some individuals show violent outbursts of rage, referred to as rage attacks, anger attacks, episodic dyscontrol or intermittent explosive disorder. Individuals are prone to aggressive outbursts when under stress. They may perceive stress as a threat, insult, vulnerability, insult or any of these. Some sufferers may have unusual brain wave patterns or changes in brain chemistry. There may also be changes in “soft” neurological findings, but the disorder is considered to arise from poor impulse control when demands or needs are not met. If the individual accumulates experiences where such behaviours are tolerated, early in life probably, the behaviour continues. The threat to others and property can be substantial. For some, this pattern of behaviour suddenly emerges. For example, after a head injury or psychotic disorder. The person is upset, guilt-ridden and remorseful after the episode, but it is accompanied often by a sense of relief. To be classified as IED, a person must show:–

  •     several occasions where they lost control of aggressive impulses, leading to serious assault or property destruction.
  •     the aggression is out of proportion to the social or psychological stressors.
  •     there is not alternative personality or mental disorder that explains the symptoms.
  •     the symptoms are not caused by any other medical condition or substance use, such as medication or drug abuse.


This is an impulse control disorder where the individual feels they cannot resist the impulse to steal objects that are not for personal use or monetary value. The person will describe tension prior to the theft and a sense of relief and gratification afterwards. This is not to be confused with people who steal out of anger, vengeance or delusional beliefs. It is therefore distinguished from shop lifting. Some therapists view kleptomania as part of the obsessive-compulsive spectrum of disorders, as many individuals experience the impulse to steal as an alien, unwarranted intrusion on their mental state. Other evidence suggests kleptomania may be related to mood disorders, such as depression. The main features include:-

  •     the person repeatedly yields to the impulse to steal objects that are not for personal use or for their monetary worth.
  •     Just before the theft, the patient experiences increasing tension.
  •     They feel gratification, relief or pleasure at the time of the theft.
  •     Thefts are not committed out of rage, anger or revenge, nor in response to delusions or hallucinations.
  •     The thefts are not better explained by any other disorder, such as antisocial personality disorder, manic episode or conduct disorder.


Is an impulse control disorder where the individual sets fires recurrently and on purpose, not for monetary gain or social protest. The individual will experience tension or emotional arousal before setting the firs and relief after the act. They will be fascinated by fire, show curiosity and interest. They will often participate in the aftermath of the fire, e.g. assisting firefighters, watching the impact of what they have done. To be classified as a pyromanic, the person must:

  •     more than once deliberately and purposefully set fires.
  •     experience tension or excitement before fire-setting.
  •     is attracted to or interested in fire and its outcomes and circumstances.
  •     experiences gratification, pleasure or relief when setting fires or experiencing their consequences.
  •     fires are not set for profit, for a political agenda, conceal crimes, to express anger or revenge, improve patient’s living circumstances, in response to a delusion or hallucination, due to impaired judgement.

Compulsive Skin Picking

Is also known as pathological skin picking, neurotic excoriation or dermatillomania and is defined as the habitual picking of skin lesions or excessive scratching, picking or squeezing of otherwise healthy skin. It is a poorly understood disorder. Some researchers now belief that CSP, compulsive hair pulling and nail biting are a subgroup of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder spectrum. OCD was regarded as a single disorder, but is now thought to represent a range of related disorders, such as classic OCD, anorexia nervosa, trichotillomania, compulsive skin picking, compulsive nail biting and Tourette’s syndrome.

The characteristics of skin picking include :

  •     Recurrent skin picking of face, lips, scalp, hands or arms.
  •     Pleasure, gratification, tension decrease or relief when skin picking.
  •     Tension increases immediately before picking.
  •     Picking causes significant difficulties in life or stress.

    Sensations such as itching, burning, tingling or an uncontrollable urge to pick their skin.

Other Disorders

Other associated features include body rocking, knuckle cracking, cheek chewing, head banging and thumb sucking, depression, depression. Most people develop the
problem in their teens or twenties. It may be an conscious response to anxiety or depression, but can be an unconscious habit.


Who Is This Course Suitable For?

This course is suitable for anyone who is interested in people and/or working with people. For example -

  • teachers
  • writers
  • counsellors
  • teaching assistants
  • careworkers
  • parents
  • foster parents
  • social workers
  • doctors
  • health care professionals
  • Etc.

Why Study This Course?

The course will provide you with -

  • An indepth knowledge of different behavioural types, disorders, symptoms and possible treatments
  • A detailed and thorough understanding of mental health disorders and difficulties
  • A great addition to your CV/resume - improve your job and career prospects
  • Help you to support people who are experiencing difficulties in their lives


Any Questions?

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