Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


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 adopt 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. Related to this, it includes a module on working with specific vulnerable populations that will focus on responding to concerns and strategies to keep ourselves and others safe and support these individuals and groups.  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.  

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.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - develop skills in scientific report writing (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10);

LO2 - develop further understanding of research design, methodology and ethics (GA4, GA5, GA8);

LO3 - show an understanding of methods used to study development and the major theoretical perspectives in human development (GA4, GA5);

LO4 - demonstrate an understanding of lifespan development and issues arising out of intergenerational interactions (GA1, GA4, GA5);

LO5 - critically analyse theoretical issues in developmental psychology (GA4, GA5; GA7; GA10);

LO6 - demonstrate an understanding of the importance, policies and strategies for building safe and supportive environments for working with specific vulnerable populations (GA1, GA5).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include: 

  • Development across the Lifespan
  • Methods of studying development across the lifespan: including observational techniques; cross sectional and longitudinal methods.
  • Ethical issues involved in these methods of study.
  • Theoretical perspectives including stage and continuous models of change, learning and maturity.
  • Biological, cognitive, social, moral, and emotional development including the development of self.
  • The role of heredity and environmental influences.
  • Building safe and supportive environments for working with specific vulnerable populations.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is taught using face-to-face mode with 3 contact hours per week: each week there will be a 2 hour lecture and 1 hour tutorial. 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. Further self-directed learning is available through the ‘ACU Child-safe Organisations’ module, which is an online, interactive module that, upon completion, successful participants will be given a record of completion. 

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

This unit may also be offered on or off campus in intensive mode or multi-mode for sponsored / special cohorts, with the learning and teaching strategies being equitable with on campus mode offerings as endorsed by the School Course Implementation Committee. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

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 presentations provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate your grasp of key concepts and your ability to synthesise information learnt throughout the course in meaningful ways. The APA style research proposal gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to discuss and consolidate research literature in order to develop a research topic, establish a rationale, formulate hypotheses and provide a description of the methodology of a study. In order to pass this unit, students must attempt all assessment tasks and achieve an aggregate score of at least 50%.  

Intensive and multi-mode assessment of this unit will be transparently equitable with on campus mode offerings as endorsed by the relevant Course Implementation Committee. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Group presentation 

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


LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA7,GA10

Research Proposal  

Assess the ability to evaluate literature in order to develop a research topic along with its hypotheses and methodology 


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Final Exam   

Assesses knowledge and understanding of course content


LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA4, GA5


‘ACU Child-safe Organisations’ Online Module 

 Note: Completion of this module does not exempt students from seeking a Working with Children Card or a Police Check where this is appropriate or mandated. 


(Hurdle requirement)


GA1, GA5

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. (2013). Development through the lifespan: international edition (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon. 

Feldman, R.S. (2014). Development across the lifespan (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. 

Hoffnung, M., Hoffnung, R.J., Seifert, K.L., Burton Smith, R., Hine, A., Ward, L., Pause, C., & Swabey, K. (2013). Lifespan development: A topical approach (1st ed.). Milton, Qld: John Wiley & Sons. 

Santrock, J. W. (2013). Lifespan development (14th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. 

Shaffer, D.R., & Kipp, K. (2013). Developmental psychology: Childhood and adolescence (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning. 

Sigelman, C.K., Rider, E.A., & George-Walker, L. (2016). Life-span human development (2nd ed.). Victoria, Australia: Cengage Learning. 

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