Culture, Health and Development

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The course focuses on how psychological knowledge about socialization and individuation can be used in practice. The course provides a brief introduction to the significance of culture for psychology, both with regard to its philosophical, theoretical and methodological basis but also for the application to understanding societal problems. In addition, the positive effects of self-regulation will be presented, with emphasis on positive youth development and social influencing factors. Students will also get an overview over risk and protection factors and their implications for prevention and intervention. Central among protection factors stands the development of self-regulation and the concept of psychological resilience. The course will also provide a brief introduction to longitudinal research designs used to explore changes throughout the life-span. The course consists of four main themes:

Theme 1: Society and culture This theme introduces students to a (cross) cultural perspective within psychology. Students will get an introduction to the concept of culture, the significance of culture for psychological theory and practice, and how the knowledge about culture can be used (e.g., for prevention and intervention).

Theme 2: Society, individual and health - social support, self-regulation and positive development Self-regulation is seen in connection with theories from positive psychology (for example self-determination, positive youth development, and development of intrinsic motivation) and health psychology (coping, health-promotion). Relevant theories and models from cross-cultural psychology, social psychology and motivational psychology will be used to shed light on how social factors at different levels in society can support the development of good health and positive development and how such social factors may be influenced.

Theme 3: Risk and protection factors This topic introduces how risk and protection factors are important for the development of self-regulation in children and adolescents. The topic will also be about how these factors may have implications for interventions to prevent that psychological conditions occur.

Theme 4: Longitudinal research design and research exploring changes throughout the life-span This topic provides a practical empirical introduction to the knowledge base for longitudinal studies of development with emphasis on studies to assess changes within the life-span. The course is based on publications from existing longitudinal studies both internationally and nationally.

Learning Outcomes


Upon completion of the course, the student must have acquired:

  • an understanding of human behavior from a (cross) cultural perspective;
  • knowledge of how understanding of mental health and treatment can vary across groups and cultures;
  • knowledge of communication, interaction and collaboration, and has knowledge of how language and culture affect this;
  • knowledge of the importance of culture and language background for disease understanding and treatment;
  • an understanding of what is negative and positive development;
  • an insight into theory and research in positive psychology and health promotion work;
  • knowledge about health competence and how this affects health behaviour in different groups as well as coping with illness;
  • an understanding of different perspectives in disease prevention work;
  • knowledge of various qualitative and quantitative research methods used in studies exploring psychological development throughout the life-span;
  • in-depth knowledge of particularly important psychological topics and issues throughout life, from infants and young children to children, adolescents, adults and the elderly.


Upon completion of the course, the student should be able to:

  • apply cultural understanding in the face of society's multicultural challenges, including in relationships with people with different ethnic backgrounds;
  • explain how knowledge about positive psychology can be used in psychological practice in municipalities, organizations and in public health work;
  • analyze and critically evaluate knowledge about prevention and health promotion as well as risk and protective factors in order to independently apply relevant methods and interventions at different levels including society at large; and
  • interpret results from studies with longitudinal designs.

General competence

Upon completion of the course, the student should be able to:

  • communicate respectfully with regard to other people's integrity, dignity and autonomy and adopt appropriate communication based upon situation, age, gender, linguistic and cultural background;
  • reflect on how positive development can be promoted;
  • reflect on how knowledge of risk and protective factors for individual development of emotion and self-regulation can have implications for prevention work; and
  • reflect that statistical models of development always represent a simplification of reality, which nevertheless can provide useful knowledge about normative tendencies and individual variation.

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Spring / Autumn

Place of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
The student must have completed and passed all previous courses included in the study program or document equivalent competence.
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Access to the Course
Clinical psychology study
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Theme 1-3:

  • Oral presentation of group work in connection with the lecture series for topic 1 and topic 2 (approved by the teacher).
  • Students must carry out group work on a case and submit a written report (4000 words +/- 15% in APA style) or complete project work and submit a written report (1200 words +/- 15%) (approved by the teacher).
  • Students have to give written feedback on each other's report, and participate in oral presentation in plenary (approved by the teacher).

Theme 4:

  • Provide summaries / reviews of studies with longitudinal designs (approved by the teacher).

The mandatory assignments listed above must be approved before the student can take the home exam.

Forms of Assessment

The assessment form is a home exam within a period of 48-hours. The tasks are based on topics taught within theme 1, 2 and 3 and the recommended literature for these themes. Home exams must be written individually and are handed out and have to be delivered electronically.

The student must answer to three of the six tasks. Each task should be answered with approx. 1000 words, and has to be written in APA style. All three assignments must be passed to pass the course.

Grading Scale
When grading the home exam, a scale from A to F is used.
Assessment Semester
Spring / Autumn
Reading List
The reading list will be published 01.07. for the autumn semester and 01.12. for the spring semester
Course Evaluation
Students will evaluate the teaching in line with UiB's quality assurance system.
Examination Support Material
All available materials can be used.
Programme Committee
The Council of the clinical psychology study has responsibility of the course content and the structure of the study program, as well as the quality of the study program and all the courses here
Course Coordinator
Department of Psychosocial Science
Course Administrator
Faculty of Psychology