PSYC 3303 Abnormal Psychology

Instructor Contact:

Dr. Amanda L Mahaffey


Course Description:

Examines etiological, theoretical, clinical, diagnostic, and experimental perspectives of major mental health disorders, with an emphasis on the main symptoms and diagnostic criteria associated with these disorders.


Prerequisite for this class: PSYC 1001.

Course Objectives:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the definitions, etiologies, diagnoses, and treatments associated with psychological disorders
  2. Identify symptoms of psychological disorders as they are defined by the DSM-5
  3. Analyze contemporary psychological science with an understanding of how it is conducted
  4. Discuss diagnostic techniques, risk factors, and individual differences in psychological disorders
  5. Understand and apply contemporary treatment strategies to individual and societal cases
  6. Conceptualize social, cultural, and gender issues related to psychological disorders
  7. Practice the ability to intellectually discuss psychological disorders by writing critical discussion posts, citing original theory and empirical evidence, and applying these to individual and societal-level issues

Course Overview:

This course will focus on the study of the nature, diagnosis, causes, and the treatment of psychological disorders. Students can expect to gain information and an understanding of the rationale of the spectrum of what is currently considered abnormal behavior, the clinical signs and symptoms accompanying the major DSM-5 classifications of disorders, causal and maintenance factors of disorders, and examples of empirically supported treatments. By the end of the class you will have developed a broad understanding which will serve as a foundation for more advanced and specialized skills in careers such as clinical psychology, psychiatry, social work, psychiatric nursing, medicine, and neuroscience. In this online course, we will engage heavily in class discussion, interacting with each other in deep analysis of the material and the science behind it.

*There will be no traditional lecture in this online course. Instead, we will read each chapter, including all videos and extra media presented in MindTap, take assessments associated with the chapter in MindTap, and come to discussion in Canvas prepared to engage. MindTap is accessed originally through the link in Canvas under Modules, where it says MindTap Registration Help and then on a daily basis, you will use the link Access MindTap Here, which is also under Modules. MindTap has numerous activities associated with each chapter, including tutorials, reading assignments, videos, exploratory assessments, and quizzes for each section. Everything with the yellow bar that says Counts Toward Your Grade is graded.

Required Reading/Media requirements:

  1. Barlow, D.H. and Durand, V.M., Hofman, S. G. (2018). Essentials of Abnormal psychology (8th ed.)

*Since you will need to use MindTap® to take this course, it is required that you purchase the e-book, which you can bundle with loose leaf print if you wish.

*IMPORTANT: Purchase MindTap (which includes your e-book and all interactive assessments) through the link under the Modules tool that says “MindTap Registration Help.”

If you purchase it any other way than this or the CU Bookstore, you may have trouble and your access may be delayed. In other words, DO NOT purchase on Amazon.

ALSO IMPORTANT:  If you are taking more than one class that uses MindTap, you should purchase Cengage Unlimited and save money!

  1. DSM-5, which can be accessed for free through the CU library website
  2. Popular media articles, news reports, videos, empirical journal articles, etc., to be assigned or shared by fellow students on an ad-hoc basis


Your final grade is determined by your performance on the following:

Discussion Participation 50%

MindTap® Assessments 50%

Total     100%


Now that you’ve selected your favorite Continuing Education courses, email or print the information, including class number, to more easily search Buff Portal and enroll. Still have questions? Contact an advisor.


Monday – Friday
9:00am to 4:00pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado