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Session: 2022/23

Last modified: 07/07/2022 13:39:23

Title of Module: Psychosocial Concerns in Serious Illness

Code: NURS11036 SCQF Level: 11
(Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework)
Credit Points: 20 ECTS: 10
(European Credit Transfer Scheme)
School:School of Health and Life Sciences
Module Co-ordinator:Elaine  Stevens

Summary of Module

"Serious illness is a health condition that carries a high risk of mortality AND either negatively impacts a person's daily function or quality of life, OR excessively strains their caregivers”. Kelly and Bollens (2017). This includes illnesses such as cancer, COVID-19, COPD as well as a range of neurological and rare conditions.

This module explores the experience of illness and the concept of suffering in its widest form.  Values and belief systems will be explored within the theories of uncertainty, adjustment, anxietty and burden. Reactions to loss, grief and bereavement will be explored as will current best practice in bereavement support. The emotional burden experienced by professional carers will be investigated and support for professionals during and after care episodes will be examined.

The module discusses the importance of psycho-social assessment and specific psychological intervention strategies when individuals expereince serious illness. Ethical decision making knowledge and skills will be woven throughout the module and will relate to the professionals ability to make ethically sound decisions about treatment choices.

The module content maps onto the enhanced/expert level of the NHS Education for Scotland Palliative and End of Life Care Framework to Support the Learning and Development Needs and Social Service Workforce.

The above skills acquisition, contributes to the development of the UWS Graduate AttributesUniversal - critical thinking, analytical, inquiring, culturally aware, emotionally intelligent, ethically-minded, culturally aware, collaborative, research-minded and socially responsible; Work-Ready -knowledgeable, digitally literate, effective communicator, motivated, potential leader;  and Successful -autonomous, incisive, creative, resilient and daring.

Module Delivery Method
Face-To-FaceBlendedFully OnlineHybridCHybridOWork-based Learning
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Term used to describe the traditional classroom environment where the students and the lecturer meet synchronously in the same room for the whole provision.

A mode of delivery of a module or a programme that involves online and face-to-face delivery of learning, teaching and assessment activities, student support and feedback. A programme may be considered “blended” if it includes a combination of face-to-face, online and blended modules. If an online programme has any compulsory face-to-face and campus elements it must be described as blended with clearly articulated delivery information to manage student expectations

Fully Online
Instruction that is solely delivered by web-based or internet-based technologies. This term is used to describe the previously used terms distance learning and e learning.

Online with mandatory face-to-face learning on Campus

Online with optional face-to-face learning on Campus

Work-based Learning
Learning activities where the main location for the learning experience is in the workplace.

Campus(es) for Module Delivery
The module will normally be offered on the following campuses / or by Distance/Online Learning: (Provided viable student numbers permit)
Paisley:Ayr:Dumfries:Lanarkshire:London:Distance/Online Learning:Other:






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Term(s) for Module Delivery
(Provided viable student numbers permit).
Term 1


Term 2


Term 3check mark

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Learning Outcomes: (maximum of 5 statements)

On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

L1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the psychosocial challenges encountered in the serious illness.

L2. Exhibit effective use of a significant range of skills, techniques and practices in addressing psychosocial concerns in serious illness

L3. Critically review, consolidate and extend knowledge, skills, practice and thinking relating to the experience of illness and the concept of suffering.

L4. Extend their critical understanding of the identification and management of more complicated loss, grief and bereavement.

L5. Demonstrate critical reflection on one’s own and others’ roles and responsibilities when responding to psychosocial concerns of the seriously ill.

Employability Skills and Personal Development Planning (PDP) Skills
SCQF Headings During completion of this module, there will be an opportunity to achieve core skills in:
Knowledge and Understanding (K and U) SCQF Level 11.

Extensive, detailed and critical knowledge and understanding of the main principles and theories of psychosocial care in serious illness.

Critical understanding of some of the more specialised challenges facing patients and families where there is a diagnosis of serious illness.

Practice: Applied Knowledge and Understanding SCQF Level 11.

Use of originality and creativity in the application of knowledge, understanding and practices in relation to decision making during serious illness.

Use of specialised skills, techniques and practices to solve challenging psychosocial issues.

Generic Cognitive skills SCQF Level 11.

Critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis of issues which are at the forefront of psychosocial care and informed by developments in serious illness.

Communication, ICT and Numeracy Skills SCQF Level 11.

Communicate effectively with patients, families and the multi-professional team about psychosocial issues.

Autonomy, Accountability and Working with others SCQF Level 11.

Exercise substantial autonomy and initiative in professional activities; take responsibility for own and/or significant responsibility for the work of others.

Pre-requisites: Before undertaking this module the student should have undertaken the following:
Module Code:
Module Title:
Co-requisitesModule Code:
Module Title:

* Indicates that module descriptor is not published.

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Learning and Teaching
This module is delivered as hybrid learning module as well as by full distance learning utilising a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Hybrid learning students will participate in a range of synchronous and asynchronous activities supported by the quality assured resources received by distance students.

Students who are learning fully online and are supported by the VLE will receive: Core quality assured module resources; individual and group tutorial support and directed learning via the VLE system. This will be aided by synchronous online classroom sessions, asynchronous discussion boards; directed wider reading including access to electronic library and e-boo

All students have access to direct individual and tutorial support from their tutors and will be directed to wider reading, including access to electronic library and books.
Learning Activities
During completion of this module, the learning activities undertaken to achieve the module learning outcomes are stated below:
Student Learning Hours
(Normally totalling 200 hours):
(Note: Learning hours include both contact hours and hours spent on other learning activities)
Lecture/Core Content Delivery20
Tutorial/Synchronous Support Activity10
Asynchronous Class Activity6
Independent Study158
Personal Development Plan6
200 Hours Total

**Indicative Resources: (eg. Core text, journals, internet access)

The following materials form essential underpinning for the module content and ultimately for the learning outcomes:

There is no core text for this module. All are considered recommended reading.

Cherny, N.I., Fallon, M., Kaasa, S., Portenoy, R.K. and Currow, D.C. (Eds.)(2015) Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine. 5th Ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chochinov H, Breitbart W (Eds) (2012) Handbook of Psychiatry in Palliative Medicine (2nd Ed). Oxford university Press: Oxford.

Hutchison, T.A. (2011) Whole Person Care: A New Paradigm for the 21st C. New York: Springer

Kelly, A.S. and Bollens-Lund, E. (2018) Identifying the Population with Serious Illness: The "Denominator" Challenge. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 1(21) Suppl 2, S7-S16.

Stroebe M, Schut H, van den Bout J (Eds) (2012) Complicated Grief and Scientific Foundations for Healthcare Professionals. Abingdon: Routledge

Worden J.W. (2018) Grief counselling and grief therapy for the mental health practitioner (5th Ed). New York: Springer.

In addition students will be directed to a range of international resources on the psychosocial concerns of people with cancer and those with advanced illness.

(**N.B. Although reading lists should include current publications, students are advised (particularly for material marked with an asterisk*) to wait until the start of session for confirmation of the most up-to-date material)

Engagement Requirements

In line with the Academic Engagement Procedure, Students are defined as academically engaged if they are regularly engaged with timetabled teaching sessions, course-related learning resources including those in the Library and on the relevant learning platform, and complete assessments and submit these on time. Please refer to the Academic Engagement Procedure at the following link: Academic engagement procedure

Where a module has Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Body requirements these will be listed here:
Attendance at synchronous sessions (lectures, workshops, and tutorials), completion of asynchronous activities, and submission of assessments to meet the learning outcomes of the module.Attendance at synchronous sessions (lectures, workshops, and tutorials), completion of asynchronous activities, and submission of assessments to meet the learning outcomes of the module.

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Supplemental Information

Programme BoardBiological Sciences and Health
Assessment Results (Pass/Fail) No
Subject PanelHealth L7-11
ModeratorConstantina Papadopoulou
External ExaminerA Ward
Accreditation DetailsN/A
Version Number


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Assessment: (also refer to Assessment Outcomes Grids below)
Formative Assessment
This module is formatively assessed by group discussion on the content of the individual and group learning activities that are embedded within each of the learning units. This may be achieved in face to face discussion in the classroom or by discussion remotely managed via the module VLE.

Component 1 – Practical- PowerPoint Presentation: 30% of the module total - 1300 words
Category 2 – Assignment - Review – 70% - 3150 words
(N.B. (i) Assessment Outcomes Grids for the module (one for each component) can be found below which clearly demonstrate how the learning outcomes of the module will be assessed.
(ii) An indicative schedule listing approximate times within the academic calendar when assessment is likely to feature will be provided within the Student Handbook.)

Assessment Outcome Grids (Footnote A.)

Component 1
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Learning Outcome (4) Learning Outcome (5) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Presentation check mark  check mark300

Component 2
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Learning Outcome (4) Learning Outcome (5) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Review/ Article/ Critique/ Papercheck mark check markcheck mark 700
Combined Total For All Components100% 0 hours

A. Referred to within Assessment Section above
B. Identified in the Learning Outcome Section above

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  1. More than one assessment method can be used to assess individual learning outcomes.
  2. Schools are responsible for determining student contact hours. Please refer to University Policy on contact hours (extract contained within section 10 of the Module Descriptor guidance note).
    This will normally be variable across Schools, dependent on Programmes &/or Professional requirements.

Equality and Diversity
In line with current legislation (Equality Act, 2010) and the UWS Equality, Diversity, and Human Rights Code, our modules are accessible and inclusive, with reasonable adjustment for different needs where appropriate. Module materials comply with University guidance on inclusive learning and teaching, and specialist assistive equipment, support provision and adjustment to assessment practice will be made in accordance with UWS policy and regulations. Where modules require practical and/or laboratory based learning or assessment required to meet accrediting body requirements the University will make reasonable adjustment such as adjustable height benches or assistance of a ‘buddy’ or helper.

Please refer to the UWS Equality and Diversity Policy at the following link: UWS Equality and Diversity Policy

UWS Equality and Diversity Policy
(N.B. Every effort will be made by the University to accommodate any equality and diversity issues brought to the attention of the School)

2014 University of the West of Scotland

University of the West of Scotland is a Registered Scottish Charity.

Charity number SC002520.