Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



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, you are expected to develop, conduct and report your 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.

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

LO1 - demonstrate 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 question (GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10)

LO2 - demonstrate 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 HREC (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA10) 

LO3 - conduct a comprehensive search of the literature in a chosen research area (GA5, GA8)

LO4 - critically analyse and synthesise the research in their chosen area of study (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA10)  

Graduate attributes

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

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

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: 

  • What’s the difference between a narrative and a systematic literature review? 
  • Systematic literature searching 
  • Writing a research proposal 
  • Research ethics: foundational principles 
  • 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 three pieces of assessment. First, students will submit of a brief research proposal that will be read by two members of staff (hurdle). Second, students will submit a copy of the HREC application for their project which will allow students to demonstrate their understanding of how the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research applies to their research project (hurdle). The third 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 OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Research Proposal

you are required to present a brief (3-4 page) proposal of your 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 you to demonstrate your understanding of all relevant aspects of your research project and provides an opportunity for feedback regarding the feasibility of your study. 


LO1, LO2 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Submission of a copy of the HREC application 

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


LO1, LO2 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Literature Review

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


LO3, LO4 

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA10 

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

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