Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


PSYC214 Learning and Behaviour

Teaching organisation

3 hours contact per week over 12 weeks or equivalent

Unit rationale, description and aim

Health psychology is important because it allows us to understand the effects of psychological factors on health and illness. Some of the questions this unit will consider include; why do some students catch a cold every exam period and others do not? How does what we eat affect the way we think and feel? Why might mindfulness be helpful for a cancer survivor? Health psychology recognises the importance of biological, behavioural (such as lifestyle choices), psychological (e.g. beliefs, attitudes), and social conditions (culture, relationships) in health and illness. This unit will focus on the promotion and maintenance of health, the prevention and treatment of illness, the identification of causes of illness, and the health care system. Major theoretical perspectives and current research will be covered in this unit, with a focus on the application of theory and research to improve health and well-being. The aim of this unit is to provide you with an in depth understanding of the models, approaches and practical applications in the area of health psychology.

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 - recall and describe historical perspectives and current key theories and findings related to the biological, behavioural, psychological, and social factors (including culture) involved in health and illness (GA5);

LO2 - discuss the organisation of the Australian healthcare system, issues working in multidisciplinary teams, and how people access and use health services (GA1, GA5, GA9);

LO3 - identify key components of adjustment to and impact of chronic and/or terminal illness and psychological interventions for chronic and/or terminal illnesses (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA9);

LO4 - synthesise research findings pertaining to the application of a health psychology theory to an illness or condition and evaluate how well the theory explains the illness/condition and informs clinical practice (GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9);

LO5 - apply relevant theory and research to develop a behaviour change intervention for a specified case study (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9).

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 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

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 


Topics will include: 

  1. Current and historical perspectives on health and illness 
  2. Psychological aspects to health and illness 
  3. Stress and coping 
  4. Types and sources of stress 
  5. Impact of stress on health including psychoneuroimmunology 
  6. Modifiers of stress and coping with stress 
  7. Personality and Health 
  8. Culture and Health  
  9. Pain and pain management 
  10. Quality of life and positive health psychology 
  11. Health behaviours and health promotion 
  12. Theories of behaviour change and health promotion 
  13. Health-enhancing and health-compromising behaviours 
  14. Biopsychosocial factors affecting health-related behaviours 
  15. Developing, implementing, and evaluating health promotion programs 
  16. Becoming ill and getting treatment 
  17. The Australian healthcare system 
  18. Multidisciplinary teams 
  19. Use of health services 
  20. Patient-practitioner interactions 
  21. Following treatment plans 
  22. Chronic and life-threatening health problems
  23. Adjusting to chronic and terminal health problems 
  24. Impact of chronic and terminal health problems 
  25. Psychosocial aspects, impacts, and interventions 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The unit is delivered in face-to-face mode with 3 contact hours per week: each week there will be a 2 hour lecture and a 1 hour tutorial. This mode of delivery is designed to enhance discussion and engagement in the content covered in the unit. The lectures are to aid you with the acquisition and understanding of knowledge while the tutorials are designed to enhance application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation of that knowledge. To assist you in your self-directed learning, other learning resources are utilised including: online readings and activities; online forums; and lecture recordings.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to successfully complete this unit, you will need to complete and submit all of the assessment tasks listed in the table below. In addition to this, you must obtain an aggregate mark of at least 50% to pass the unit. In order to best enable students to demonstrate unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes, standards-based assessment is utilised, consistent with University assessment requirements. A range of assessment strategies are used including: A case study presentation and report which will allow you the opportunity to apply knowledge gained from the content of the course to a real-world case study, and communicate through both written and oral language. A health education project will allow you to further extend your critical thinking and research skills through a real-world application. In addition, an exam will provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding, consolidation and application of the content covered in the unit.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Case study presentation and report.  

This assessment will allow you the opportunity to apply knowledge gained from the content of the course to a real-world case study, and communicate through both written and oral language. 


LO1, LO5

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9

Health Education Project. 

This project will allow you to further extend your critical thinking and research skills through a real-world application. 


LO1, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9


An exam will provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding, consolidation and application of the content covered in the unit.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA5

Representative texts and references

Caltabiano, M. L., & Ricciardelli, L. (2012). Applied topics in health psychology. John Wiley & Sons. 


Compton, W. C., & Hoffman, C. (2013). Positive Health. In Positive Psychology, 2nd Edition (pp. 127-152). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.  

French, D., Vedhara, K., Kaptein, A. A., & Weinman, J. (2010). Health Psychology, 2nd Edition. Wiley Blackwell.  


Linder, H., & Sciacchitano, L (2013). Health behaviour change techniques. In M. L.Caltabiano & L. Ricciardelli (Eds.), Handbook of applied topics in health psychology (pp. 3-14). Chichester: Blackwell-Wiley. 


Ricciardelli, L., Mellor, D., McCabe, M. P., Mussap, A. J., & Kolar, C. A. (2013). Culture and health: An Australian perspective. In M. L. Caltabiano & L. Ricciardelli (Eds.), Handbook of applied topics in health psychology (pp. 84-100). Chichester: Blackwell-Wiley. 

Relevant Journals 

British Journal of Health Psychology 

European Journal of Health Psychology 

Health Psychology 

Journal of Health Psychology 

Psychology and Health  

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