Skip to main content
KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico

The Concept of Mental Disorder

Key information

  • Module code:


  • Level:


  • Semester:


  • Credit value:


Module description

 This module in the philosophy of psychiatry will critically appraise several main approaches to the concept of mental disorder. First, the critiques of mainstream psychiatry, beginning in the 1960s and still current, mainly to the effect that normal distress or social deviance is being inappropriately pathologised; second, conceptualisations of mental disorder in the standard psychiatry diagnostic manuals of the World Health Organisation and the American Psychiatric Association; and third, ‘naturalist’ approaches to the definition of mental disorder that invoke population statistical or evolutionary theory based norms. Distinctive features include coverage of various approaches to this multi-faceted problem. Learning objectives include understanding contemporary controversies about the nature and extent of mental disorder, conceptualisations used in mainstream psychiatry, and theoretical definitions in terms of human nature. 

Assessment details

Summative assessment: 1 x 3,500-word essay (100%)

Formative assessment: 1 x 2,000-3,000 word essay

Teaching pattern

One one-hour weekly lecture and one one-hour weekly seminar over ten weeks. 

Module description disclaimer

King’s College London reviews the modules offered on a regular basis to provide up-to-date, innovative and relevant programmes of study. Therefore, modules offered may change. We suggest you keep an eye on the course finder on our website for updates.

Please note that modules with a practical component will be capped due to educational requirements, which may mean that we cannot guarantee a place to all students who elect to study this module.

Please note that the module descriptions above are related to the current academic year and are subject to change.