Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Behavioural Addictions

UM LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course




DESCRIPTION The study-unit will draw upon developments in the understanding and treatment of substance use to inform thinking and practice relating to non-substance based addictions. It will examine the concept of behavioural addictions and will explore the biological, psychological/cognitive and social elements put forward to explain them. The study-unit will examine in detail: gambling addiction; gaming disorder; problematic internet use; sex addiction; and shopping addiction. The study-unit will examine how the evidence can inform policy and practice.

Study-unit Aims:

The study-unit aims to provide course participants with a thourough and critical evidence based understanding of behavioural addictions and the implications for research, policy and practice. It aims to allow students to understand what brings about the various behavioural addictions, what evidence claims there are for effective interventions and the policy implications, as well as the most useful ways to research them.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- describe the key criteria used for operationalising behavioural addictions;
- critique the theoretical frameworks used to explain the various behavioral addictions;
- integrate the understadnings from different paradigs towards a transdisciplinary understanding of behvioural addiction.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- discriminate between different types of behavioural addictions;
- evaluate and critique research evidence on behavioural addictions from various disciplines;
- prepare a written submission reflecting the integration of numerous concepts;
- apply the understanding of behavioural addictions to policy and practice in the field of addictive behaviour.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main text

- Rosenberg, K. & Curtiss Feder, L, (2014) Behavioral Addictions: Criteria, Evidence, and Treatment. London: Academic Press.

Supplementary texts

- Potenza M. Should addictive disorders include non-substance-related conditions? Addiction. 2006;101 (Suppl 1):142–151. [PubMed]
- Holden C. Behavioral addictions debut in proposed DSM-V. Science. 2010;327:935. [PubMed]
- Chambers RA, Potenza MN. Neurodevelopment, impulsivity, and adolescent gambling. J Gambl Stud. 2003;19(1):53–84. [PubMed]
- Slutske WS. Natural recovery and treatment-seeking in pathological gambling: results of two U.S. national surveys. Am J Psychiatry. 2006;163(2):297–302. [PubMed]
- Brewer JA, Potenza MN. The neurobiology and genetics of impulse control disorders: relationships to drug addictions. Biochem Pharmacol. 2008;75(1):63–75. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
- de Castro V, Fong T, Rosenthal RJ, Tavares H. A comparison of craving and emotional states between pathological gamblers and alcoholics. Addict Behav. 2007;32(8):1555–1564. [PubMed]
- Blanco C, Moreyra P, Nunes EV, Sáiz-Ruiz J, Ibáñez A. Pathological gambling: addiction or compulsion? Semin Clin Neuropsychiatry. 2001;6(3):167–176. [PubMed]
- Grant JE, Brewer JA, Potenza MN. The neurobiology of substance and behavioral addictions. CNS Spectr. 2006;11(12):924–930. [PubMed]


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Sept. Asst Session Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Pawel Andrzej Atroszko
Maris Catania
Marilyn Clark
Maria Medawar
Richard Muscat
Kristina Vella


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2023/4. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.