Graduate Diploma of Professional Psychology


Degree Name:

Graduate Diploma of Professional Psychology

Degree Code:


Level of Qualification:



1 year full time or part time equivalent study^

Number of Units:

8 x 500 Level units of study (48 credits)

Study Load:

2 or 3 units per trimester, full time
1 or 2 units per trimester, part time

Refer to Course Structure for more details.


On campus - Sydney

Student Placement:

300 hours in total

Award Title:

Graduate Diploma of Professional Psychology

Cricos Code:


^ Maximum permitted duration 3 years, subject to regulatory or professional association requirements


The Graduate Diploma of Professional Psychology is a 5th year of professional study in psychology designed to equip graduates with eight core professional capabilities (1) knowledge of the discipline of psychology; (2) ethical, legal and professional aspects of psychology practice; (3) psychological assessment; (4) psychological intervention strategies; (5) research and evaluation for psychology practice; (6) communication and interpersonal skills for psychology practice; (7) working in a crosscultural context; (8) practice across the lifespan. The course is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, supervised practice and individual supervision.

Professional psychology draws upon areas of the discipline of psychology, including human development, perception, attention, memory, language, decision making, learning, motivation, emotion, personality, behaviour, social relations and communication. Professional psychology engages the human condition directly and assumes a biopsychosocial model, where the biological, social and psychological characteristics of an individual are understood to be dynamically interrelated. Professional psychology focuses on identifying and addressing needs of clients. Professional psychology practice is evidence-based, drawing on theoretical concepts and heuristics, relevant research findings, collective professional experience and individual practitioner experience in order to assist clients to improve their function and experience.

The Graduate Diploma of Professional Psychology has been developed in alignment with the School of Psychological Sciences’ educational philosophy that aims to provide students with comprehensive evidenced-based theoretical and practical learning and with close reference to the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council Rules for Accreditation and Accreditation Standards for Psychology Courses June 2010 and the Psychology Board of Australia General Registration Standard. The program is based on the scientist-practitioner model that integrates knowledge of the discipline of psychology, psychological research, professional training, and professional practice. It is designed to develop skills in observation and in formulating testable hypotheses that can be empirically examined, and in selecting and evaluating interventions and assessments that are based on defensible theoretical positions and informed by evidence of effectiveness.

The hypotheticodeductive approach is applied equally to critically evaluating evidence from the literature and to working with clients. Professional psychologists are held to high standards of ethical practice requiring: a) knowledge of evidence-based interventions and assessment tools; b) awareness of relevant legislation; c) adherence to professional standards and codes of conduct; d) ability to objectively evaluate and reflect on professional work. The ACAP Graduate Diploma of Professional Psychology profiles these essential elements of professional practice throughout the program, aiming to develop life-long professional practice of personal and shared reflection through supervision and peer consultation.

Professional psychology draws on a dynamic research literature, and as well as equipping graduates with skills in using well-established assessment tools and approaches, the program aims to develop skills for critically evaluating new approaches and methodologies to support life-long professional development. Psychologists practice in work environments, where changes in health and social policy impact on professional practice. With this in mind, the program seeks to equip graduates with skills for understanding and responding to the broad policy and legislative frameworks that impact on their professional practice. Professional psychology is an intrinsically collaborative and interactive field, and the program seeks to develop skills for practicing within a multidisciplinary model of service provision.

Professional Accreditation

The Graduate Diploma of Professional Psychology is an accredited program under the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) and by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) College of Clinical Psychologists, and is accredited with the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency.

Graduate Attributes

Graduate Attribute 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.
Graduate Attribute 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.
Graduate Attribute 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.
Graduate Attribute 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.
Graduate Attribute 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.
Graduate Attribute 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.

Pathways to Future Study

Students who complete the Graduate Diploma of Professional Psychology with a distinction average or higher may seek entry to the ACAP Master of Psychology (Clinical) qualification and may apply for credit transfer for up to eight units. 

course guides-bachelor of applied social science (BASS) - pathways for future study

Course Structure

Our Graduate Diploma of Professional Psychology includes coursework and practical placements. It is sequenced to promote an integration of knowledge and skill development. 

Students will:

  • complete a minimum of 300 hours of practical/skills training
  • receive at least 1 hour of supervision per 7.5 hours of practical work

Counselling, Communication and Culture

Psychology, Health and Wellbeing

Psychological Assessment for Professional  Psychology

Lifespan Psychopathology: Adulthood and Ageing

Lifespan Psychopathology: Children and Adolescents

Psychology Practice 1: Ethical, Legal and Professional Issues

Research Methods for Professional Psychology

Psychology Practice 2: Working with Clients

For more information about the sequencing and structure of the Graduate Diploma of Professional Psychology, see our course guide.