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  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Campus Attendance


PSYC623 Psychopathology ; PSYC645 Learning Difficulties: Assessment and Intervention

Unit rationale, description and aim

Providing psychologists with training and knowledge regarding psychological difficulties that arise across the lifespan allows for effective intervention and prevention. Developmental Psychology provides an understanding of factors that influence the course of development, and developmental problems that may be faced by individuals across the lifespan.

The unit will provide knowledge on the prevalent challenges that present in each life phase, along with assessment strategies and intervention approaches. There is a focus on developing skills in communicating effectively with people across the lifespan and with various levels of developmental difficulties, and understanding the impact of common psychological or cognitive challenges on development. In addition, the impact of common life traumas and events on development will also be investigated. The aim of the unit is to enable to students to integrate their knowledge of developmental theory with psychological problems that present across the lifespan.

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
LO1Describe contemporary theories of developmental psychopathology and individual differencesGC1, GC2, GC3, GC5, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11
LO2Explain the concepts of risk, resilience, and protection and their influence on development across the lifespan, in particular on personality, psychological functioning and interpersonal relationshipsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC5, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12
LO3Demonstrate and evaluate evidence-based assessment and intervention strategies addressing developmental issues and problems, with an emphasis on preventionGC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC5, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12


Topics will include: 

  • Developmental phases and tasks 
  • Personality development and developmental psychopathology frameworks 
  • Developmental continuities and trajectories 
  • Risk, resilience, and protective factors in development 
  • Childhood, trauma, abuse, and neglect 
  • Attachment difficulties across the lifespan 
  • Family dysfunction 
  • Dysfunctional peer relationships 
  • Identity and self-concept 
  • Career and Work Choices 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Students enrolled in postgraduate psychology units are provisionally registered psychologists who are required to deliver psychological services to clients as part of their training. This unit prepares students for working across the lifespan. The unit is delivered in face-to-face mode in lecture and workshop format. Essential background information will be presented as lecture material. Workshop components are designed to enhance application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation of that information. Learning and teaching strategies include active learning, case-based learning, individual and group activities. This range of strategies will provide students with appropriate access to required knowledge and understanding of unit content and to allow them to meet the aim, learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit. Learning and teaching strategies will reflect respect for the student as an independent learner. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within group activities.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy for this unit allows students to demonstrate their acquisition of knowledge, as well as the application of this knowledge. In order to best enable students to demonstrate unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes. Standards based assessment is utilized, consistent with University assessment requirements. The first assessment task will provide the students with the opportunity to demonstrate skills in critical evaluation of existing literature on developmental theory. The second assessment task will allow students to demonstrate skills in evaluating evidence-based assessment and intervention strategies. The first two assessments will also develop and assess students’ skills in written communication. The final oral presentation will allow students to demonstrate clinical knowledge through an oral presentation. This will provide an opportunity to develop and assess communication skills. Students must pass all assessment tasks in order to pass the unit as it is critical that students demonstrate an appropriate level of knowledge and skills related to evidence based practice to support their work on placements with clients, and a failure in any of these tasks is likely to translate to an unacceptable level of risk to clients. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Written Assignment (2500 words) 

Provides the opportunity to apply knowledge of developmental theory 


LO1, LO2, LO3

Written Assignment (1500 words) 

Provides the opportunity to demonstrate and evaluate evidence-based assessment and intervention strategies 


LO1, LO2, LO3

Oral Presentation (20 mins) 

Provides the opportunity to communicate knowledge orally to an audience of peers 


LO1, LO2, LO3

Representative texts and references

American Psychological Association. (2019). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.  

Beauchaine, T. P., & McNulty, T. (2013). Comorbidities and continuities as ontogenetic processes: Toward a developmental spectrum model of externalizing psychopathology. Development & Psychopathology25, 1505-1528. 

Kent, M., Davis, M. C., & Reich, J. W. (Eds.) (2014). The resilience handbook: Approaches to stress and trauma. New York, NY: Routledge. 

Lewis, M., & Rudolph, K. D. (Eds.) (2014). Handbook of developmental psychopathology. New York, NY: Springer. 

Petersen, I. J. et al. (2014). Describing and predicting developmental profiles of externalizing problems from childhood to adolescence. Developmental Psychopathology. doi: 10.1017.S0954579414000789. 

Ramey, S. L., Lanzi, R.G., & Ramey, C.T. (2015). Family resilience to promote positive child development, strong flexible families, and intergenerational vitality. In J.A. Arditts (Ed.), Family problems: Stress, risk, and resilience (pp. 185-199). Malden, MA: Wiley.   

Reijntjes, A., et al. (2013). Developmental trajectories of bullying and social dominance in youth. Child Abuse & Neglect37, 224-234. 

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