Credit points


Campus offering

Find out more about study modes.

Unit offerings may be subject to minimum enrolment numbers.

Please select your preferred campus.

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



Unit rationale, description and aim

Psychology is a scientific discipline from which stems a profession that is guided by evidence-based practice. As such, training in the skills pertaining to both the critical analysis of research literature, and the conduct of research is at the core of any psychology course. At a 4th year level, students are expected to develop, conduct and report their own research project. This expectation is explicitly stated in the APAC accreditation guidelines for 4th year courses. This unit is the first of two units designed to support students in this process. In particular, this unit provides support for the conduct and write-up of a literature review document. Although students receive project-specific support from a thesis supervisor, the unit is designed to provide training on the generic skills that underpin the successful write up of a literature review, either in a narrative or systematic literature review format. In addition to this, this unit provides support in the process of developing a research project, including (a) the production of a research proposal document and (b) the submission of an application for ethics review to the HREC. As part of this support and training, students will review and discuss foundational research ethics principles of (a) respect, (b) research merit and integrity, (c) justice and (d) beneficence. Students will also apply their understanding of these principles in the development of their specific research project.

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
LO1Demonstrate their understanding of the development of a research project by preparing a Research Proposal acceptable to the School of Psychology for a fourth year project that includes the choice of research methods appropriate for the research questionGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11
LO2Demonstrate an understanding of how their research project adheres to the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research with respect to the ethical principles of respect, research merit and integrity, justice, and beneficence, as reflected in an application for Ethics Approval through HRECGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11
LO3Demonstrate an understanding of ethical and cultural considerations when conducting research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoplesGC2, GC3, GC5, GC7, GC8, GC9
LO4Conduct a comprehensive search of the literature in a chosen research areaGC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11
LO5Critically analyse and synthesise the research in their chosen area of studyGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11


Topics will include: 

  • What is the difference between a narrative and a systematic literature review?
  • Systematic literature searching
  • Writing a research proposal
  • Research ethics: Foundational principles including ethical and cultural considerations in the conduct of research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Submission to HREC
  • Reading articles critically and evaluating evidence
  • Writing support: From style to structure

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The unit involves 12 contact hours distributed across the semester. Students will receive project-specific support from their thesis supervisor, and the unit will focus on the generic skills that underpin the preparation of a proposal, ethics application, and the writing of a literature review. For this purpose, the face-to-face sessions are structured as guided discussions where the lecturer presents the fundamental issues around a theme, and the students reflect on and discuss how these apply to their own project. These sessions will include interactive activities where students will complete work in class than can then be reviewed and discussed in small groups to identify strengths and receive constructive feedback on the weaknesses of the work. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes stated above, students will submit four pieces of assessment. First, students will submit a brief research proposal (hurdle). Second, students will submit a copy of the HREC application for their research project. For students conducting projects that require new ethics application, this submission will correspond to the HREC application and attachments. For students who are working on projects that already have ethics approval, this submission will involve (a) providing the existing application and (b) using it to answer a series of questions regarding issues of recruitment, consent, data management, confidentiality, privacy, etc., as outlined in the approved application. This assessment allows students to demonstrate their understanding of how the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research applies to their research project (hurdle). Third, students will complete  the Indigenous Research Module (hurdle). The last piece of assessment is the literature review document, which may adopt the form of a narrative or a systematic literature review (with or without a meta-analysis component). 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1

Research Proposal 

Students are required to present a brief (3-4 page) proposal of their research project that presents a theoretical background and rationale, and a methods section specifying the participants, materials/measures, and procedures to be followed. This task enables students to demonstrate their understanding of all relevant aspects of their research project and provides an opportunity for feedback regarding the feasibility of the study.



Assessment Task 2

Submission of a copy of the HREC application

This task ensures students obtain experience in the preparation of an ethics application and complete this in a timely manner, to ensure they will have sufficient time in which to collect  data for their research project.  


LO1, LO2

Assessment Task 3

Completion of the Indigenous Research Module

This is an online module, which is designed to provide training on the ethical and cultural considerations relevant to conducting research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 



Assessment Task 4

Literature Review 

Students are required to submit either a narrative or systematic literature review of an area of research, which will enable students to demonstrate their ability to conduct a comprehensive literature search and present a coherent overview of the literature in a synthesised form. 


LO4, LO5

Representative texts and references

American Psychological Association (2019). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). American Psychological Association.

Becker, H. S., Richards, P., & Richards, P. (2020). Writing for social scientists : how to start and finish your thesis, book, or article (3rd ed.). The University of Chicago Press.

Creme, P., & Lea, M. R. (2008). Writing at University (3rd ed.). Open University Press.

Murray, R. (2011). How to Write a Thesis (4th ed.). Open University Press.

Murray, R. (2013). Writing for Academic Journals (3rd ed.). Open University Press.

National Health and Medical Research Council (updated 2018). National statement on ethical conduct in human research. Retrieved from:

Sieber J.E. (Ed.). (1992). Ethics of social research: Survey and experiment. Springer New York.  

Smyth, T.R. & Lecouteur, A. (2007). The principles of writing in psychology (2nd ed.). Palgrave MacMillan.  

Starley, B., & Sieber, J.E. (Eds.). (1992). Social research on children and adolescents: Ethical issues. Sage Publications

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs