Course syllabus for

Differential Psychology, 15 credits

Differentiell psykologi, 15 hp

This course syllabus is valid from autumn 2021.
Please note that the course syllabus is available in the following versions:
Course code
Course name
Differential Psychology
15 credits
Form of Education
Higher Education, study regulation 2007
Main field of study 
G2 - First cycle 2 
Grading scale
Fail (U), pass (G) or pass with distinction (VG)
Department of Clinical Neuroscience
Decided by
Programnämnden för Psykologprogrammet
Decision date
Revised by
Education committee CNS
Last revision
Course syllabus valid from
Autumn 2021

Specific entry requirements

Passed results of the first and second semester (30 credits and at least 15 credits, respectively) of the Study Programme in Psychology.


Module 1, Psychometrics och statistics
On completion of this module, the student should be able to
  • describe and account for basic concepts within both classical and modern psychometric theory
  • make own basic psychometric analyses and be able to carry out correlation based statistical calculations
  • reflect around own experiences around design and evaluation of psychological tests
Module 2, Individual differences
On completion of this module, the student should be able to
  • define and account for central theoretical models in differential psychology, and discuss these with a critical and reflecting attitude
  • describe and account for statistical methods in differential psychology
  • discuss cultural influences and gender perspectives in relation to individual differences
  • understand and discuss the practical usability (and difficulties) of psychological tests of individual differences when used in psychological testing and assessment
Module 3, Behavioural genetics
On completion of this module, the student should be able to
  • describe and account for basic concepts within behavioural genetics theory and method.
  • account for and reflect critically around the methods and results from molecular genetics
  • account for and reflect critically around the relative importance of genes and environment
  • account for theories of brain evolution from a behavioral genetic perspective
  • give examples of research designs and methodology that is used to study the effects of, and related research results on, genetic and environmental factors on human personality, intelligence and vulnerability for psychopathology


The contents of the course include design of psychological instruments and basic psychometric concepts within psychometrics, an overview of statistical methods used within differential psychology and questions about the importance of the heredity and environment for individual differences.

The course is divided in three modules, as follows:

Psychometrics and Statistiacal methods, 6.0 hp

Grading scale : VU

The first part gives an introduction to psychometrics. The student learns how psychological phenomena are quantified how tests are designed and how standardization is used to interpret the quantification. The student learns methods from both classical and modern test theory to assess reliability and validity. In addition to basic test theoretical applications specific methods to evaluate reliability of diagnostic instruments (inter­rater reliability; sensitivity and specificity) are introduced.
The statistical methods are based on correlational statistics (i.e. how one analyses associations between different properties of tests) and include item­analysis and factor analysis. Furthermore, skills in designing psychological tests are communicated and discussions are held around how one can evaluate its reliability and validity critically. With the aim to illustrate the practical usability of psychometric knowledge, the student will apply a differential psychological perspective: to evaluate and revise a test and by studying established tests and discuss its reliability interpretation, psychometrics etc.

Individual differences, 4.5 hp

Grading scale : GU

Under the second part the student will learn about different concepts of intra and individual differences in psychological attributes and statistical methods used to analyze these (regression analysis).Concepts of intellectual skills and abilities and different traditions to define and measure personality traits will be discussed. Current perspectives on individual differences from social­cognitive psychology, will be illustrated. Furthermore, psychoanalytic perspectives, cultural influences and gender perspectives on individual differences in intelligence and personality, will be addressed.

Behavioral genetics, 4.5 hp

Grading scale : GU

The third part gives the student knowledge about the importance of genes and environment for differences between people. In this section, knowledge of basic genetic mechanisms is provided, methods to study effects of genes on behaviour, and the relative importance of heredity and environment for differences between people regarding different aspects of intelligence, personality and health behaviours. Further, in a behavioural genetics perspective, the student may take part of knowledge concerning a number of cognitive deviations.

Teaching methods

The teaching consists of teacher-supervised lectures and seminars where the students are encouraged to active participation by discussing and reflecting around the themes of the lectures. Further, the teaching consists of laboratory sessions that intend to let the students exercise on statistical analyses and use statistical calculation exercises and analyses to evaluate these and established tests. These exercises constitute the basis for the examination seminars and aims to illustrate the practical importance of knowledge of differential psychology and statistics in the psychologist's everyday work.


The course is examined both individually and in groups through oral and written examination assignments.

Module 1, Psychometrics och statistics is examined through
1) written assignment (laboratory report) with corresponding seminar, is graded U (Fail) or G (Pass)
2) written assignment (instrument review) with corresponding seminar,  is graded U or G
3) individual calculation assignment, is graded U, G or VG (Pass with distinction)

The module is graded U, G or VG.
The grade G on the module requires G on all examination assignments 1, 2 and 3.
The grade VG requires G on assignment 1 and VG on examination assignment 2 and 3.

Module 2, Individual differences is examined through
1) written assignment (regression analysis) with corresponding seminar, is graded U or G
2) minor essay and oral presentation of a scientific article, is graded U or G

The module is graded U or G.
The grade G requires G on all examination assignments 1 and 2.

Module 3, Behavioural genetics is examined through
1) written examination, is graded U or G

The module is given the same grade as the written examination, U or G.

Course grade
The entire course is graded U, G or VG. The grade G requires G on all three modules. The grade VG on the entire course requires in addition VG on module 1.

Limitation of the number of examinations
Students who do not pass the regular examination are entitled to retake the examination on five more occasions. If the student has failed a total of six examinations/tests, no additional examination will be given. Each occasion the student participates in the same test counts as an examination. Submission of blank exam is counted as an examination. An electronic examination that has been opened via the learning management system counts as an examination, even if the examination is not submitted. An examination to which the student registered but did not attend, will not be counted as an examination. In order for an examination assignment to be relevant for assessment, it must have been submitted by the appointed time, otherwise the student is referred to the re-examination opportunity.

Possibility of exception from the course syllabus' regulations on examination
If there are special grounds, or a need for adaptation for a student with a functional disability, the examiner may decide to deviate from the syllabus's regulations on the examination form, the number of examination opportunities, the possibility of supplementation or exemptions from the compulsory section/s of the course etc. Content and learning outcomes as well as the level of expected knowledge, skills and attitudes may not be changed, removed or reduced.

Transitional provisions

If the course is cancelled or goes through substantial changes, information about interim regulations will be stated here.

Other directives

Course evaluation takes place according to KI's local guidelines. Results and possible measures are returned to the students on course web.

Literature and other teaching aids

Furr, R. Michael Psychometrics - an introduction
Behavioral genetics Knopik, Valerie S.; Neiderhiser, Jenae M.; DeFries, J. C.; Plomin, Robert
Diener, E (Ed). The NOBA collection. The Diener Education Fund. Selected chapters. Mandatory.