Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


PSYC621 Professional Practice in Psychology ; PSYC622 Practicum Skills ; PSYC630 Psychological Assessment ; PSYC638 Therapeutic Skills

Unit rationale, description and aim

The practice of psychology is based on the scientist-practitioner model, and as such, knowledge and critical analysis of research is essential for evidence-based practice. This research unit allows students to demonstrate the critical analysis and integration of psychological knowledge they have acquired throughout the program, within the context of a research project. All students will be given a specific research question that relates to a simulated single-case design study. Using simulated role plays students will be required to undertake processes relating to gaining consent, selection of assessments, reviewing the literature for evidence-based treatments, implementing an intervention, monitoring client progress, and providing feedback in a structured environment. Data collected by the students throughout the case will then be analysed and the case will be written up as a research report. The aim of this unit is to provide students with a capstone experience, which allows them to demonstrate the integration of theoretical knowledge, clinical skills, and research analytic abilities acquired through their postgraduate study.

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 - Describe the key elements of the scientist-practitioner framework including critiquing research literature and evaluating client outcomes (GA4, GA5); 

LO2 - Explain the link between research methods, the ability to assess client progress and the ability to evaluate their own clinical practice (GA3, GA4, GA5 & GA8); 

LO3 - Apply a single case design to evaluate the effectiveness of an implemented clinical intervention (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10) 

Graduate attributes

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 

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

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:  


  • Overview of a capstone experience 
  • Using research methodologies to evaluate clinical practice 
  • Cultural considerations when using research methods to assess psychological practice 
  • Assessing client treatment outcomes  
  • An overview of single-case design studies  
  • Use of single-case designs within the broader scientist-practitioner model 
  • Evaluating single case designs using both pre- and post-data, clinical observations and session rating scores.  
  • Presenting outcome data to clients and treatment teams in both verbal and written format 
  • Requirements for writing up the capstone experience 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Postgraduate students in psychology are expected to be independent learners, which is reflected in an approach that puts students at the centre of their learning through discussion. This unit therefore uses an active learning approach that puts students at the centre of their learning through discussion. As such, the unit is delivered in two face-to-face contact hours per week and utilises lectures, group activities, and reflective/critical thinking activities. Lectures and demonstrations are structured to deliver essential content, while group activities provide students with opportunities to discuss the implementation of a single case-design study. Critical thinking activities will be used to promote reflection and integration of skills obtained across the course of their studies. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively in group activities. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy for this unit allows students to demonstrate the integration of skills and knowledge acquired throughout their postgraduate studies. The processes of writing the proposal allow the student to demonstrate the ability to plan a viable research project to evaluate clinical treatment outcomes. If required, students will be given feedback to ensure that the research proposal is sufficiently robust to ensure that the student can proceed in a way that meets ethical and safety standards. The student will be given one further opportunity to resubmit this written assignment within two weeks of the feedback being received.  The main outcome of this unit is to produce a research report based on a single-case simulated case study, which demonstrates critical thinking and the synthesis of data and knowledge within the scientist-practitioner model that will allow students to work competently within the field of psychology. Students must complete the hurdle task successfully and achieve a pass grade in the written research report to pass this unit. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Research proposal: 

Require students to demonstrate capacity to understand, conceptualise, and design a treatment evaluation 


LO1, LO2

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8 

Written research report: 

Require students to demonstrate their ability to write a research report in publishable form 


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Representative texts and references

Anderson, C. M., and Kim, C. (2005). Evaluating Treatment Efficacy With Single-Case Designs. In M. C. Roberts & S. S. Ilardi (Eds.), Handbook of Research Methods in Clinical Psychology. (pp. 72-91). doi: 10.1111/b.9781405132794.2005.00006.x 

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.  

Australian Psychological Society (2007). Code of ethics (rev ed). Carlton South, Victoria: The author.  

Australian Psychological Society (2017). Ethical guidelines (14th ed.). Carlton South, Victoria: the author. 

Baird, B. N. (2010). The internship, practicum, and field placement handbook (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.  

Barker, C., Pistrang, N., & Elliot, R. (2016). Research Methods in Clinical Psychology: An Introduction for Students and Practitioners (3rd ed.). (Chapters 2, 3, 4, 9, 11). John Wiley & Sons: West Sussex, UK.  

Morgan, G. A., Gliner, J. A., & Harmon, R. J. (2006). Understanding and Evaluating Research in Applied and Clinical Settings. (Part IV and V.) Taylor and Francis.  

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