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  • Semester 1Campus Attendance
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  • Semester 1Campus Attendance
  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Campus Attendance
  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Campus Attendance


PSYC100 Foundations of Psychology AND PSYC101 Applications of Psychology

Teaching organisation

3 contact hours per week over 12 weeks or equivalent

Unit rationale, description and aim

In order to understand human functioning, it is essential to analyse it within a developmental context. Therefore, developmental psychology is a key area of practice and research. This unit focuses on the main areas of developmental psychology, taking a lifespan perspective. It examines aspects of physical, cognitive, social and emotional development. Attention is also given to the research methods typically used in the study of development. Finally, the unit explores topics relating to professional ethics and contemporary issues in the field. The aim of this unit is to introduce and describe key concepts within developmental psychology. This introduction is designed to highlight the main theories and seminal research, thus providing an overview of current understandings in the field and explore the real-world application of this knowledge. 

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Describe development across the lifespan as informed by theoretical perspectives and researchGC1, GC4, GC10, GC12
LO2Show an understanding of the ethical issues pertinent to developmental psychologyGC1, GC2
LO3Critically analyse theoretical issues in developmental psychologyGC1, GC3, GC4, GC7, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12
LO4Apply developmental psychology knowledge to social issues including those relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples/communitiesGC2, GC4, GC5, GC8, GC10, GC11, GC12


Topics will include: 

  • Overview of the history and key methods (e.g., observational techniques, cross sectional and longitudinal methods) of studying developments across the lifespan
  • Theoretical perspectives including stage and continuous models of change, learning and maturity 
  • The role of heredity and environmental influences
  • Ethical issues relevant to developmental psychology
  • Biological, cognitive, social, moral, gender identity, sexual and emotional development, including the development of self
  • Maintenance and promotion of healthy development
  • Issues arising out of intergenerational interactions with a focus on Aboriginals & Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Building safe and supportive environments for working with children, young people and vulnerable adults

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit has the equivalent of 3 contact hours per week over 12 weeks which includes lectures and tutorials. The lectures are to aid students with the acquisition and understanding of knowledge while the tutorials are designed to enhance application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation of that knowledge. Students are encouraged to engage in self-directed learning with a range of activities presented in class along with discussion of various developmental issues.

This unit may also be offered in intensive (2-week) mode offshore. The materials and assessments are consistent with those conducted in the semester.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to successfully complete this unit, students must:

  • complete and submit all of the assessment tasks listed in the table below
  • obtain an aggregate mark of at least 50%
  • demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome

The assessment strategy for this unit allows students to demonstrate their acquisition of knowledge, as well as the application of that knowledge. Recall of key concepts is assessed via multiple choice and short answer questions in the end of semester exam. The group presentation provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate their grasp of key concepts and their ability to synthesise information learnt throughout the course in meaningful ways. The media critique enables students to demonstrate their ability to critically evaluate media reports through applying their knowledge of relevant developmental research and theory.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1: Group Presentation 

Provides students with an opportunity to work collaboratively with peers and present a topic of interest.


LO1, LO3, LO4

Assessment Task 2: Media Critique

Assesses the ability to evaluate media reports in light of developmental research.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Assessment Task 3: Final Exam   

Assesses knowledge and understanding of course content


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Representative texts and references

Australian Children’s Commissioners and Guardians (2013). Submission to Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Issues Paper 3 – Child Safe Institutions Principles for Child Safety in Organisations.

Australian Psychological Society (2007). Code of ethics. Carlton South: Author.

Berk, L. (2018). Development through the lifespan: international edition (7th ed.). Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

Feldman, R.S. (2018). Development across the lifespan (8th ed.). Pearson.

Hoffnung, M., Hoffnung, R.J., Seifert, K.L., Hine, A., Ward, L., Pause, C., Swabey, K. Yates, K., & Burton Smith, R., (2019). Lifespan development: A topical approach (4th ed.). John Wiley & Sons.

Santrock, J. W. (2019). Lifespan development (17th ed.). McGraw-Hill.

Shaffer, D. R. (David R., & Kipp, K. (2014). Developmental psychology : childhood and adolescence (9th edition). Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Sigelman, C.K., De George, L., & Cunial, K., Kohler, M., Ballam, N. & Rider, E.A. (2022). Life-span human development: Australia and New Zealand (4th ed.). Cengage Learning.

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