PSYCHOL 7233 - Abnormal Psychology

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2014

This course teaches students to recognise and diagnose child and adult psychological disorders using current diagnostic classifications (e.g. DSM-IV-TR). Students gain an understanding of the mechanisms and aetiology of a wide range of mental health problems and mental disorders (including comorbidities) and current evidence-based assessment and management (including basic psychopharmacology) across the lifespan.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PSYCHOL 7233
    Course Abnormal Psychology
    Coordinating Unit Psychology
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Prerequisites PSYCHOL 7230
    Assumed Knowledge Psychology Honours degree and relevant undergraduate introductions to abnormal psychology and evidence-base practice
    Restrictions Available to M Psych (Health) and PhD/MPsych(Health) students only or by permission of Head of School
    Course Description This course teaches students to recognise and diagnose child and adult psychological disorders using current diagnostic classifications (e.g. DSM-IV-TR). Students gain an understanding of the mechanisms and aetiology of a wide range of mental health problems and mental disorders (including comorbidities) and current evidence-based assessment and management (including basic psychopharmacology) across the lifespan.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Linley Denson

    School of Psychology Office:
    Ms Janine Flory: Ph - +61 8313 1540; Email -
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    At the successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

    1.    Evaluate critically the most commonly-used diagnostic classification systems (e.g. DSM, ICD) and techniques for diagnostic assessment (e.g. SCID, MINI, psychometric scales)
    2.    Demonstrate a strong working knowledge of the causes, presentation, diagnosis and treatment of psychological problems from infancy to old age
    3.    Develop a basic understanding of the SA mental health system and its supporting legislation.
    4.    Review critically the evidence-base underlying psychological practice and communicate their findings in a concise and professional manner.
    5.    Review critically,  reflect on and document a Professional Development Activity compliant with AHPRA requirements for psychologists.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1,2,3,4,5
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 1,2,3,4,5
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 4,5
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 3,4,5
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 4,5
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1,2,3,4,5
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 1,2,3,4,5
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 1,2,3,4,5
  • Learning Resources
    Recommended Resources
    The Library is a major resource centre for students. The Research Librarian for Psychology, Maureen Bell, provides some useful information through the Internet at The website contains a list of databases, links to tutorials and help with searching methods.

    For additional information please refer to the relevant Master of Psychology program handbook at the following link:
    Online Learning
    This course may use MyUni for one or more of the following:

    - Communication with students via Announcements and Discussion Board
    - Submission of assessment
    - Access to resources such as additional readings
    - Self-directed learning activities

    Link to MyUni:
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Face-to-face interactive seminars, complemented with reading, reflection, and on-line interaction through the Journal Club and MyUni Discussion Boards.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Seminars: 12x 3 hours: 36 hours
    Journal Club participation: 6 hours
    Journal Club Reviews: 4 x 4 hours -16 hours
    PD Activity and Record: 8 hours
    Exam preparation: 48 hours
    Independent reading and research: 30 hours
    Learning Activities Summary
    Lectures will be held weekly on a Monday morning from 9.10 am – 12 noon. The following is a provisional program. The final program will be provided in the first lecture.

    Week Topic Lecture
    Week 1 Introduction and diagnostic methodology.  The Mental Health Act & the mental health system Introduction to Abnormal Psychology
    Week 2 Disorders presenting in childhood (1) Abnormal Psychology
    Week 3 Disorders presenting in childhood (2) Abnormal Psychology
    Week 4 Child & adult psychoses Abnormal Psychology
    Week 5 Child & adult mood disorders & suicide Abnormal Psychology
    Week 6 Anxiety disorders & trauma Abnormal Psychology
    Week 7 Personality disorders. Problems with substance use  and gambling Abnormal Psychology
    Week 8 Other mental health diagnoses Abnormal Psychology
    Week 9 Psychopharmacology (1) Abnormal Psychology
    Week 10 Psychopharmacology (2) Abnormal Psychology
    Week 11 Mental health in middle and later life (1): normal ageing, anxiety, depression, grief & loss Abnormal Psychology
    Week 12 Mental health in middle and later life (2): Dementia, delirium and behaviour problems.

    Course Review  and Final Test
    Abnormal Psychology

    Disclaimer: This program is provisional and subject to change.

    Specific Course Requirements
    On the initial enrolment into one of the Master’s program, all students (unless already a Registered Psychologist) MUST apply for and obtain provisional registration with the Psychology Board of Australia.  All students are required to provide a copy of their registration details to the Program Administrator on their first day in the Program: this will be required for the Summer School courses Interviewing & Intervention and Evidence-Based Practice. The application form and details of fees payable are available from the PBA website:

    Candidates are required to consent to a police check as part of their application to the Psychology Board of Australia for Provisional Registration, a requirement of enrolment in the program. A satisfactory current police check is a mandatory requirement for acceptance to and continuation within the program.
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Not applicable
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Assessment Type Weighting Learning outcome(s) being addressed
    Self directed learning recording of professional development activity Summative 10% 1,2,3,5
    Journal club: 4 critical reviews Summative 40% 1,2,4
    Final test Summative 50% 1,2,3,4,5
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Students must attend at least 80% of classes.  Attendance lists are maintained and lateness is recorded as failure to attend. Failure to meet this attendance requirement (i.e. absence from three or more sessions in this course) may lead to exclusion from the course.

    Redemption assignments will be set for any lecture that is missed, to ensure that the student gains adequate exposure to, and understanding of, the material that they missed.  These must be completed to the satisfaction of the lecturer or course co-ordinator.

    In order to pass the course overall, students must pass each of the 3 components of the assessment.
    Assessment Detail
    The aim of these assessments is to encourage students to read and reflect on core course materials and content, while also engaging in active learning activities.

    Students elect to complete journal club reviews for 4 of 10 journal club articles. These are linked to lectures 2-11 and undertaken in the week preceding the relevant lecture. The SDL is due 2 weeks before the final test. The final test is completed during the final class.

    Further details about these assessments will be provided at the commencement of the course.

    For further information please refer to the relevant Master of Psychology (Clinical) Program Handbook at the following link:
    Journal Club Reviews and SDL assignments are required to be submitted online by the specified dates.

    The School of Psychology undertakes to adhere to the University’s Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, Procedure 6a, which requires that assessments are returned within 4 weeks of the deadlines for submission.

    Extension of time for an assignment may be granted at the discretion of the Course Coordinator, to whom students should apply in writing (or email) before the due date and time.

    No requests for extensions will be considered if made after the due date and time.

    Please refer to the Assessment Policy in the Master of Psychology (Clinical) Program Handbook:
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Students will have an opportunity to resubmit any assessment that receives a failed grade.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.