Course at a glance


This Level 3 Course in Abnormal Behaviour is designed to provide an introduction to those students who have some experience or understanding of working in a mental health setting and may be considering taking a formal entry qualification in a related field such as Psychiatric Nursing or a Social Worker specialising in issues connected with Mental Health. It is also suitable for those students who have little or no formal understanding of the field but you would like to enhance their knowledge and understanding.

The College will provide you with the resources necessary to complete the course and will also provide you with tutor support. Tutors have all been specially selected for their knowledge and understanding of this area of study and have experience in Distance Learning support. The Course will combine practical understanding of issues connected to Abnormal Psychology and/or Mental Health and also theoretical knowledge and understanding gained from studying the course material (and indeed further reading). Students are encouraged to develop self reflection and understanding during their Course of study which will assist them to develop skills which will assist them when considering a career in their chosen topic of study.

Students are required to pass two marked assignments and this will determine the award of the Level 3 Diploma in Abnormal Psychology. The Assignments will be expected to be approximately 3000 words in total and one will be completed by the mid point of the Course and one at the end of the Course. Assignments must be written by the student themselves and work that has been copied and pasted into the assignment will not be accepted as all work has to be screened for Plagiarism. The completed assignments will be marked online by a course tutor and feedback on performance will be provided. The assignment will either be graded pass or fail and feedback will be provided by your tutor. Tutor support will be provided throughout your Course of study and you are encouraged to make contact with your Tutor at the earliest possible opportunity as this will assist you develop your understanding and knowledge of the topic.

The Assessment will assess:

  • Theoretical knowledge and understanding of theories that are relevant to Abnormal Psychology
  • Practical Applications (you will be required to provide practice examples from applied health or social care settings).
  • Integrating theory into practice (this will combine theory with applied practice examples)

The Course duration is one year and students study at home at their own pace using our virtual learning environment. The course offers flexible delivery so that the more time you can allocate to your studies the sooner you can complete the Course. Upon enrolment you will be provided with all the necessary materials to complete the Course and you are free to study as often as you wish. Progression from Level 3 can assist in career development, continued professional development, personal development and provision of basis for further study. On successful completion of this Course you become eligible for Level 5 study at Oxford Distance Learning and can discuss this with student services at any point during the progression of your Course.

Accredited Level 3 Abnormal Psychology Diploma Entry Requirement

Entry to this Accredited Level 3 Abnormal Psychology Diploma requires that potential students have gained GCSE/IGCSE or equivalent qualifications and have, good English oral, reading and writing skills.

Advice on enrolment and guidance of prior learning (APL) can be obtained through out contact centre. The course is a rolling programme and can be started at any point in the year. Successful students can go on to Higher Education, including remaining as students at OLC to complete courses in our portfolio of higher awards.

All students must be aged 16 or over.


The coursework is assessed through continuous assessment with no formal exit examinations.

Study Hours

Approximately: 200 hours of personal study time for the entire course is recommended. All of which is supported by the OLC Course Tutor, who we greatly encourage students to access support from throughout their course.

Quality Assurance

This course has been developed by the College’s professional team of tutors to meet the needs of sector based employers and employees. It is also part of the College’s validated level three Diplomas’, recognised internationally, as verified and moderated Centre for Interactive Education (CIE Global). Further details of our accreditations are provided on our website.

Course Length

1 Year.

Awarding Body


Course Content

Accredited Level 3 Abnormal Psychology Diploma Module 1 – Defining Mental Health

The Course examines ideas of mental health based upon the ‘common sense’ definitions that exist in everyday narratives through critical awareness and understanding. Abnormal behaviour covers quite a broad spectrum from behaviour that can be considered ‘quirky’ to the more serious definitions of ‘schizophrenia’ and we examine the extremes of normal behaviour to try to examine the way in which ideas about mental health are constructed in everyday life.

Accredited Level 3 Abnormal Psychology Diploma Module 2 – What is Abnormal Psychology?

In this Unit we examine the way in which ideas about mental health and well-being have developed across time. We examine philosophical and political discourses that can lead to individuals being stigmatised as ‘insane’ when they may be classed as political dissidents if different definitions were used. We look at the contextualised environments in which definitions are used and examine the assumptions and problems associated with labelling theory.

Accredited Level 3 Abnormal Psychology Diploma Module 3 – Psychoanalytic Approach

Freud was of the view that mental well-being was defined as a consequence of our early drives and needs being met in childhood. Freud believed that if these early needs were not met then our mental health may suffer in adulthood. We examine the way in which Psychoanalysis as a discipline has evolved and whether adult behaviour is determined by our early childhood experiences.

Accredited Level 3 Abnormal Psychology Diploma Module 4 – Carl Jung and the Post Freudians

Carl Jung was a disciple of Freud’s in his early career but he split with Freud in mid life because Jung’s practical experience of working in a Psychiatric Hospital led him to a different conclusion than Freud about the origin of neurosis. Jung was a mystic who believed that the study of cultures that are different than our own, the study of universal archetypes and the mid life period would lead us to integration of the psyche and liberate us from any feelings of neurosis. Jung believed that we could develop a healthy psyche by focusing upon society and the future rather than childhood fixations.

Accredited Level 3 Abnormal Psychology Diploma Module 5 – Biological, Behavioural and Humanistic Approaches

This Module examines theoretical constructions of models of mental health and discusses the biological view of mental health through adoption of the medical model by modern Psychiatry. The strengths and weaknesses of adoption of this approach is discussed. The theory of Behaviourism is also discussed in which ideas about self functioning is rejected and the focus of treatment becomes changing maladaptive behaviour patterns. This view is contrasted with humanistic approaches which adopt a person centred approach.

Accredited Level 3 Abnormal Psychology Diploma Module 6 – Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is one of the major psychoses and patients can suffer from delusion and hallucinations and indeed may be classified as ‘psychotic’ in the medical sense because they may lose touch with reality as a consequence of their illness. We examine the success or otherwise of the different treatment regimes in alleviating the suffering of people suffering from schizophrenia and the serious side effects that some of the drugs used may have upon the sufferer.

Accredited Level 3 Abnormal Psychology Diploma Module 7 – Depression

Depression is one of the fastest growing mental disorders in the Western World and can have devastating impact upon the lives of sufferers. The biological reasons for depression are discussed together with the social issues that can precipitate the onset of the condition. Whether depression arises as a consequence of biological changes in the brain are contrasted with environmental views. The onset of depression can be chronic or acute and the different types of depression and management of the condition in modern life are discussed.

Accredited Level 3 Abnormal Psychology Diploma Module 8 – Women and Madness

Women have been over-represented in statistics relating to mental health throughout the ages. We examine the reasons for this through discussion of the way women were represented in Victorian novels to more modern day definitions. Various psychological theories are examined in this module and Freudian views of neurosis being inherent within the female condition are contrasted with modern day depictions which consider issues such as role strain and the demands of combining jobs and motherhood.

Accredited Level 3 Abnormal Psychology Diploma Module 9 – Anti psychiatry

The medical model of mental health constructs sufferers as victims of ‘ill health’ and presents the view that impaired functioning can be ‘treated’ through drugs or therapy. The Anti-Psychiatry view as portrayed by R D Laing and Thomas Ssaz considers the view that maladaptive behaviour may arise as a consequence of trying to adjust to a ‘sick and insane society’. The views of the anti-psychiatry movement are considered in this module and conclusions made about the contribution that such views make to people suffering from mental illness. Sufferers of Mental Health may be sectioned under the Mental Health Act if there behaviour becomes threatening to themselves and others and the criticisms of this view are discussed in relation to the Anti-psychiatry movement.


This Accredited Level 3 Abnormal Psychology Diploma can be used to gain entry to a Level 4 Diploma or higher.

You can view a lit of our Level 4 Diplomas here: