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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

PSYC5912M Psychology of Patient Safety

20 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Professor Rebecca Lawton

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications

At least an upper second class honours degree in Psychology or a discipline containing a substantial amount of psychology and research methods training.

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

Psychology as a discipline has a considerable role to play in patient safety research and development. This module explores how psychological theory and research can be used to influence the patient safety agenda. In the process of developing this knowledge using a problem based learning approach, students will also have the opportunity to develop a range of transferable skills. They will also develop discipline specific skills relating to critically evaluating evidence, presenting for a non-academic audience and writing a concise report.


On completion of this module, students should be able to:
- draw on a wide range of psychological theories that span health, social and cognitive psychology to address patient safety issues;
- demonstrate an understanding of the current priorities in patient safety research, practice and policy;
- to formulate recommendations for intervention to promote patient safety that are grounded in an understanding of psychological theory as well as healthcare systems and practice;
- present and justify recommendations for intervention in different formats;
- explain and critically evaluate how theory is translated into practice;
- identify and critically discuss the pertinent issues in the application of psychological theory to real-world concerns;
- critically reflect on the development of team working skills and other transferable skills

Learning outcomes
This module will develop students' understanding of empirical studies and theories in the following areas:
1. Epidemiology of medical error (e.g. frequency and types of error)
2. Causes of medical error (e.g. human error theory, contributory factors)
3. Consequences of medical error (e.g. blame and attribution theory - the financial and human cost including the second victim (health professional making mistake))
4. Error reduction interventions (e.g. incident reporting and learning, developing safer systems, designing for safety, implementation of clinical guidelines)
5. Patient involvement in patient safety
6. Contribution of psychology to policy development

Students will also be exposed to policy drivers in patient safety including:

DH reports on patient safety (e.g. an organisation with a memory)
NHS England (role in reporting and learning and safety alerts)
National Institute of Clinical Excellence (re guideline development)
Major Inquiries (e.g. Berwick, Keogh and Francis reports)

Using a problem-based learning approach, students will also gain an understanding of the issues facing applied researchers as they seek to translate theory into practice. It will give students a unique opportunity to work on real-world issues (developed in collaboration with Bradford Institute for Health Research, part of Bradford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, where the module leader works part-time) and to draw widely from their own developing psychological knowledge to respond to these. The problem-based learning approach will also facilitate the development of valuable skills.


This module runs over one semester and will include two problems. The exact nature of the problems will change on a biennial basis to reflect developments in research and policy. Students will work in small groups of 4/5 to address the problem

Semester 2
Week 1: Introduction to medical error and psychological perspectives (points 1-4 above) Week Week 2: Problem 1 Effective Engagement in PBL and introduction to problem 1 (Understanding the nature and causes of medical error)
Week 3: Problem 1 (facilitated group work)
Week 4: Problem 1 (facilitated group work)
Week 5: Problem 1 (facilitated group work and preparation for assessment)
Week 6: Group assessment ( prepared poster presentation)- peer reviewed
Week 7: Promoting patient safety (points 5-7 above) Feedback on group presentation and Introduction to problem 2 (Patient safety interventions)
Week 8: (Problem 2 (facilitated group work)
Week 9: (Problem 2 (facilitated group work)
Week 10: (Problem 2 (facilitated group work)
Week 11: Group assessment ( group task based on the problem set) 15 minute presentation and question session
Week 11: Submission of individual report (2,000 words)

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Group learning62.0012.00
Private study hours178.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Reading for lectures = 24 hours
Preparation for group presentation 1 = 30 hours
Preparation for group presentation 2 = 30 hours
Preparation for each group work session (8x6) = 48 hours
Preparation for and completion of individual report = 46 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Progress monitoring will occur twice over the course of the module. Within their pbl groups, students will be required to complete and submit a worksheet in weeks 4 and 8 which requires them to detail their progress on the applied problem to date and their planning for the time before the assessment weeks. Feedback will then be provided in the next facilitated group session.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportIndividual Report (2000 words)50.00
PresentationGroup Presentation (15 mins) - Problem 225.00
Poster PresentationGroup Poster Presentation (10 mins) - Problem 125.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:59:40


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