PSYC5112 Research Project 1

Masters Course Unit

PSYC5112 Research Project 1

Duration: One trimester

Level: Five

Credit points: Two

Prerequisites: None

Mode(s) of delivery: On-campus

Core/elective: Core

Unit co-ordinator: Dr Vanessa Beavan

Other teaching staff: Professor Lynne Harris, Room 6-29, Level 6, 11 York Street, Sydney

E mail:

Consultation times: Unit Coordinator: Thursday: 11.30-12.30pm, other times by appointment.

Teaching staff: Dr Vanessa Beavan; Professor Lynne Harris; Associate Professor Kathryn Nicholson-Perry; Dr Katie Seidler; Dr Damith Woods


This is the first of four core unit for students in the Master of Psychology (Clinical). Students develop a research project that will form the basis of their Master dissertation.

Unit description

In this unit of study students will begin a research project to address a question relevant to clinical psychology that will form the basis of their Master dissertation, supported by a research supervisor. In this unit, students will submit a research proposal, including a literature review, to the School of Psychological Sciences Research Panel and will submit an application to the ACAP Human Research Ethics Committee. Students must successfully complete all assessments for this unit before progressing to Research Project 2.

Learning and teaching process

The research project is an essential component of the MPsych(Clin) program. Students work independently under the supervision of a nominated staff member to develop a research proposal in an area relevant to clinical psychology. Students are responsible for ensuring that they are aware of assessment requirements, for being proactive in identifying obstacles to meeting assessment requirements, and for seeking help to resolve any difficulties that arise as early as possible. A list of approaches suitable for the research project follows:

  • experimental or quasi-experimental design
  • survey with a cross-sectional design
  • program evaluation methodology
  • experimental single case design
  • critical review and meta-analysis
  • qualitative design and analysis
  • critical review and secondary data analyses.

In Research Project 1 you should expect to work with your supervisor to:

  • select a suitable topic
  • evaluate literature in the area
  • identify an appropriate research question
  • identify a methodology to examine the research question
  • write a research proposal and an ethics submission

A key role of your supervisor is to ensure that your research project is of a size and complexity suitable for a Master Dissertation, that the methods chosen are practical, ethical, and that the project can be expected to be completed within the time available. You should ensure that you are in regular contact with your supervisor to discuss your research topic and methodology. A one hour weekly ‘meeting’ is a guide, but in most cases meetings will be scheduled as needed, with telephone and email contact as appropriate. You should expect to receive timely feedback on a draft of your research proposal and assistance with your ethics submission. Your research project is conducted across four trimesters. The milestones, in terms of the assessments required during each trimester, are to ensure that progress is maintained throughout this lengthy process.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students should be able to:

  • justify a research question and proposed methodology with reference to empirical evidence;
  • prepare a submission for the ACAP Human Research Ethics Committee

Study schedule

Week Topic Milestone
1 Individual research supervision  
2 Individual research supervision  
3 Individual research supervision  
4 Individual research supervision  
5 Individual research supervision  
6 Individual research supervision  
7 Individual research supervision Research Proposal due midnight Sunday
8 Individual research supervision  
9 Individual research supervision HREC submission to Head of School 23/04/14*
10 Individual research supervision HREC submissions to committee by 30/04/14
12 EXAM WEEK ACAP HREC meets 15/05/14

* You will see in the timeline that there are several milestones listed for the HREC submission. The May meeting of the HREC is 15/05/14. The documents have to be with the committee two weeks ahead of the meeting and need to be with the Head of School for signing a week before that. Therefore the date for submitting the HREC submission is 23 April 2014. The HREC documents are submitted in hard copy through your research supervisor and do not have to be submitted through the online learning site.

Assessment summary





Assessment 1: Research Proposal
research proposal with a critical review of literature in the field of the research project*.

Learning outcomes: a


3000 words

Week 7

Assessment 2: HREC Submission**

Learning outcomes: b


As required

Head of School by 23/04/14

* Assessments are marked as ungraded pass (UP)/ungraded fail (UF). Failure to complete assessment requirements satisfactorily will result in a UF for the unit. Students are required to successfully complete this unit of study before progressing to Research Project 2.
** In a small number of cases ethics committee approval of a project may not be necessary. In these cases, the requirement to submit Assessment 2 is waived and Assessment 1 is weighted at 100%.

Learning outcomes and core capabilities/ attributes

The course is designed to develop eight core professional capabilities listed below. The table shows the map of learning outcomes for this unit to core attributes.

  1. understanding the discipline of psychology;
  2. ethical, legal and professional aspects of psychology practice;
  3. psychological assessment and measurement;
  4. psychological intervention strategies;
  5. research and evaluation for psychology practice;
  6. communication and interpersonal skills for psychology practice;
  7. psychology practice in a cross-cultural context;
  8. psychology practice across the lifespan.
Learning outcome Core capability / Attribute
a. justify a research question and proposed methodology with reference to evidence
  • understanding the discipline of psychology
  • research and evaluation for psychology practice
b. prepare a submission for the Human Research Ethics Committee
  • understanding the discipline of psychology
  • research and evaluation for psychology practice

Special provisions

Attendance at scheduled supervision is required. Students are expected to work with their supervisors and undertake an independent program of study.

Recommended readings

Students are required to read journal articles and texts in their specific area of research.

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.