PSYC3022 Psychopathology

Graduate Diploma Course Unit

PSYC3022 Psychopathology

Duration: One trimester

Level: 3rd year

Credit points: 3 (out of total of 24 points)

Prerequisites: PSYC2012 Psychology: An Evidence-Based Approach 2; PSYC2022 Perception and Cognition; PSYC2032 Learning and Memory

Mode(s) of delivery: On-campus and Online Delivery

Core/elective: Core

Unit co-ordinator: Associate Professor Lynne Harris

Unit description

This unit introduces students to psychopathology, systematically examining the history, classification, causes and treatment of psychological disorders. The unit takes an integrative approach and critically examines the contribution of psychological, biological, and socio-cultural factors to the expression of psychopathology across the lifespan. The unit begins by considering the historical context of psychopathology and the development of the multiaxial diagnostic classification system, the DSM-IV-TR before considering in detail anxiety disorders, mood disorders, substance use disorders, schizophrenia and psychosis, eating disorders, sexual and gender identity disorders, personality disorders and cognitive disorders. Ethical and legal issues relevant to the provision of mental health services within the Australian health system will be considered.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students should be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • define, classify, and identify the major psychological disorders
  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of theoretical and empirical research findings from biological, socio-cultural and psychological perspectives concerning the causes and treatment of the major psychological disorders
  • critically discuss the key concepts and issues associated with the current approach to the classification of psychological disorders
  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the legal, ethical and professional issues associated with individuals experiencing psychological disorders and their treatment
  • demonstrate written and spoken communication skills appropriate for discussion of psychopathology

Unit content

  • Introduction to Psychopathology: Historical context and multiaxial classification
  • Anxiety Disorders: Classification, assessment, causes and treatment
  • Mood Disorders: Classification, assessment, causes and treatment
  • Substance Use Disorders: Classification, assessment, causes and treatment
  • Cognitive Disorders: Classification, assessment, causes and treatment
  • Eating Disorders: Classification, assessment, causes and treatment
  • Schizophrenia and psychosis: Classification, assessment, causes and treatment
  • Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders: Classification, assessment, causes and treatment
  • Personality Disorders: Classification, assessment, causes and treatment
  • Mental Health in Australia: Ethical and legal perspectives

Learning and teaching process

This unit requires students to attend and participate in a three hour lecture and a one hour tutorial class scheduled weekly from week 1 to week 10 of trimester. The classes include a range of student-focused, active, learning activities. Students will be expected to prepare for each class by completing specified activities, such as reading reports, journal articles and case studies. Students are expected to actively participate in seminar activities and it is assumed that students will spend a further 10.5 hours in private study, including reading, preparation, and completing assessments each week.

Assignment summary



Word count


Brief Report

For the assignment students prepare a brief report that presents an aspect of mental health policy or service provision in Australia and critiques it from a psychological perspective. For example, students may consider how specialist disability employment service providers accommodate the needs of those with mental illness.

Learning outcomes: b, c, d, e, f








Evaluation of evidence regarding diagnosis and/ or treatment of a specific psychological disorder or disorders. Students will present challenges for classification and/or discuss implications for evidence-based practice.

Learning Outcomes: 
a, b, c, d, e, f








Short answer and essay
examination assessing
understanding of all material 
presented in the unit,
including material presented 
in seminars, and in 
prescribed reading.

Learning Outcomes: 
a, b, c, d, e


2 hours


Graduate attributes

The material covered in this unit will contribute to the development of the following graduate attributes:

  1. Knowledge and understanding of core topics in psychology. These topics include abnormal psychology, biological bases of behaviour, cognition, information processing and language, learning, lifespan developmental psychology, perception, social psychology and intercultural diversity and indigenous psychology.
  2. Research methods in psychology. This attribute covers an understanding of the characteristics of the science of psychology and the different and varied research methods used by psychologists. It also includes the acquisition of practical skills in laboratory-based research and other methods, the design of studies to address psychological questions, critical analysis, the formulation of testable hypotheses, the choice of an appropriate methodology, the question of reliability and validity and their meanings and operations, the analysis of data, and the writing of reports.
  3. Critical thinking skills. This attribute includes the application of scientific method to the study of mental and behavioural problems, the examination of other modes of understanding the world and the development of other world views, and a recognition of the fallacies and the biases that can affect human thinking and analysis.
  4. Values, research and professional ethics. This attribute includes the evaluation of the behaviour of psychologists in psychological research and other professional contexts and is in the context of the Australian Psychological Society “Code of Ethics” and the Australian “National Practice Standards for the Mental Health Workforce”. Values and professional ethics must also be understood and evaluated in the context of social ethical principles and ethical conduct in legal, medical and institutional behaviour.
  5. Communication skills. Students need to learn how to communicate effectively orally in various settings (group discussion, presentations, both formal and informal) for various purposes. Written communication, in the form of written reports, should be according to professionally accepted formats. In psychology we follow the American Psychological Association structure and formatting conventions.
  6. Learning and the application of psychology. This attribute includes the application of knowledge of legislative frameworks and the application of knowledge about laws and conventions in work settings, consumer and carer participation and in the general matter of the conduct of application of psychology. It also considers how there may be variation of legislation across different areas of application. 
    Students also need to be cognisant of the need to sustain independent learning for professional and personal development over their life, in the changing social and cultural practices in society and in the practice and development of the scientific basis of psychology.

Special provisions

Students are expected to attend, prepare for, and contribute to each scheduled class.

Recommended text

Barlow, D. H., & Durand, V. M. (2012). Abnormal psychology: An integrative approach (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Other significant references

American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed. Text Revision). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Beauchaine, T. P., & Hinshaw, S. P. (Eds.). (2008). Child and adolescent psychopathology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Emmelkamp, P. M. G., & Kamphuis, J. K. (2007). Personality disorders. Hove, UK: Psychology Press.

Maddux, J. E., & Winstead, B. A. (Eds.). (2008). Psychopathology: Foundations for a contemporary understanding(2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Oltmanns, T. F., & Emery, R. E. (2009). Abnormal psychology (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Relevant journals and resources

Students will benefit from reading in a range of journals including the following:

Addictive Behaviors
Annual Review of Clinical Psychology
Behaviour Research and Therapy
Behavior Therapy
Clinical Psychology Review
Depression and Anxiety
International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Journal of Abnormal Psychology
Journal of Anxiety Disorders

Academic misconduct

Ethical conduct and academic integrity and honesty are fundamental to the mission of ACAP. Academic misconduct will not be tolerated by the college. This includes plagiarism of any nature. It is your responsibility to make sure that you understand what constitutes plagiarism in order to ensure that you do not engage in it. Please refer to for full details of the Academic Misconduct Policy.


This unit outline may be updated and amended from time to time. To ensure you have the correct outline please check it throughout the trimester. Your lecturer will advise when there are updates on the site and also when readings are available for class discussion.