Current Research in Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder

The aim of this optional single module is for students to develop an advanced understanding of the current main questions in research on psychosis and bipolar disorder, spanning biological, psychological and social approaches, and the ways in which these are being approached. This will provide broad foundations for students to embark on research in this area, and/or to practice clinically in a way that is directly informed by current research.

The course will be taught over 7 half day sessions, accompanied by Moodle online materials and relevant sessions in the MSc journal club.

Psychosis research based on both biological and psychosocial models is a strength at UCL, and the module is further enriched by the contribution of a number of leading experts from other institutions. Teachers on the course in 2014/2015 have included Robin Murray, Paul Bebbington, Elvira Bramon, Elizabeth Kuipers, Vaughan Bell, Paola Dazzan and Sonia Johnson.

Module Leaders

Sonia Johnson and Elvira Bramon will lead this module. Other teachers from within and outside the Division of Psychiatry will also be involved.

Sonia Johnson

Professor Sonia Johnson

Sonia Johnson is Professor of Social and Community Psychiatry at UCL and Consultant Psychiatrist in the Islington Early Intervention Service for psychosis. Her research interests are in investigating what types of treatments and services work best for people with significant mental health problems. Areas in which she has published include acute care, including alternatives to admission, early intervention in psychosis, employment and mental health, and services for women. She is currently leading two major studies funded by the National Institute for Health Research: the CORE programme, which aims to optimise crisis team care () and the CIRCLE study, a trial of a new intervention for cannabis use in early psychosis. She is the Course Director of the MSc in Mental Health Sciences Research, and the MSc in Clinical Mental Health Sciences, and previously led the part-time UCL MSc in Psychiatric Research.

Module Contents

The main topics covered by this module are:

  • Defining psychosis and bipolar disorder: current models of symptoms and syndromes
  • High risk mental states: current models of identification and treatment.
  • The genetics of psychosis: implications for aetiology and treatment.
  • Understanding and applying neurocognitive research in psychosis.
  • Neuroimaging research in psychosis: current status and potential clinical applications.
  • Psychopharmacology in psychosis: mechanisms and outcomes
  • Psychological interventions in psychosis: models and outcomes.
  • Social epidemiology of psychosis and implications for interventions.
  • Experiences of psychosis and recovery: service user perspectives

Learning Outcomes

The intended learning outcomes are:

  • Students will be able to appraise papers based on biological, psychological and social approaches to research on psychosis and bipolar disorder, and to explain how these perspectives may be integrated.
  • Students will be able to suggest approaches to managing bipolar disorder and psychosis and high risk states for transition to psychosis that are based on an up-to-date understanding of research findings in these fields.
  • Students will be able to identify the key questions motivating current research on the aetiology and management of psychosis and bipolar disorder and to explain how these are being addressed.
  • Students will be able to suggest ways of addressing research questions relating to the aetiology and management of psychosis and bipolar disorder.