PSYC3012 Psychology: An Evidence-Based Approach 3

Graduate Diploma Unit

PSYC3012 Psychology: An Evidence-Based Approach 3

Duration: One trimester

Level: Three

Credit points: Three (out of total of twenty four)

Prerequisites: PSYC1012, PSYC2012

Mode(s) of delivery: On campus; Blended.

Core/elective: Core

Unit coordinator: Dr. Fiona Ann Papps

Unit description

The aim of the unit is to provide an advanced understanding of issues and methods used in psychological research and the application of this research. Topics covered in the unit include qualitative research methods, interviewing techniques, case studies, focus groups, and narrative methods; analysing qualitative data; planning and determining budgets for research; analysis of data resulting from quasi-and non-experimental research designs using correlational and regression techniques. The use of SPSS to accompany these research designs is also covered.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students should be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the range of applications of psychological research;
  • demonstrate an understanding of a range of non-experimental research methods;
  • conduct analysis of data generated by quasi and non-experimental research using a variety of methods, including thematic analysis, interpretative phenomenological analysis, grounded theory, narrative analysis, memory work and discourse analysis;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the principles involved in the ethical conduct and validity of qualitative research;
  • plan research and determine research budgets;
  • use SPSS to run statistical analyses for quasi and non-experimental research designs (e.g. correlation and linear regression)

Unit content


  • Philosophical debates in the history of science and psychology
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Research proposals and budgeting
  • Non-experimental methods of data collection
  • Techniques of data analysis used in qualitative research
  • Issues of ethics and validity in qualitative research
  • Statistical methods for analysis of quasi and non-experimental methods of data collection (e.g., correlation and linear regression)
  • Applications of psychological research to everyday events and psychological practice

Learning and teaching process

This unit comprises 10 weekly three hour lectures and nine weekly one hour tutorial/laboratories. Attendance at tutorial/laboratories is compulsory. Attendance at lectures is highly recommended. However, lectures will be captured electronically at the time of delivery and will be available later the same day for downloading of the slide content and the oral presentation.

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 should also be cognizant 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.

Assessment summary



Word count


Mid-Trimester Quiz

This assignment comprises a timed test that assesses knowledge of the content addressed in lectures and tutorials from Week 1 through to and including Week 5. The test contains 25 multiple choice items derived from lecture and tutorial notes. The test is made available in the on-line class space at the beginning of Week 5 (one week prior to the due date), and students are allowed thirty minutes in which to answer the 25 items on the test. The test closes at the end of Week 5 at 11:55p.m.

Learning outcomes: a, b, e.


No word count prescribed

Week 6


Interview Report

Students participate in interviews and then individually write up the findings from the interviews in a brief report.


Learning outcomes: a, b, c, d, e.


2, 000 words

Week 10



The examination is a combination of multiple-choice questions and short answers covering the unit curriculum including material presented in lectures, laboratory/tutorials and in prescribed reading.


Learning outcomes: a, b, c, d, e, f.


No word count prescribed

Week 12


Special provisions

Attendance at the scheduled tutorials is compulsory.

Submission of the two assignments and sitting the examination are required for completion of the unit.

Recommended text

Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2013). Successful qualitative research: A practical guide for beginners. London, UK: Sage.

Forrester, M.A. (2010). Doing qualitative research in psychology: A practical guide. Los Angeles: Sage.

Other significant references

Field, A. (2013). Discovering statistics using SPSS (4th ed.). London, England: Sage.

Salkind, N. J. (2009). Exploring research. (7th Ed.) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Silverman, D. (2001). Interpreting qualitative data: Methods for analysing talk, text and interaction. London, UK: Sage Publications.

Smith, J. A. (2008). Qualitative psychology: A practical guide to research methods. (2nd Ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Willig, C. (2008). Introducing qualitative research in psychology. (2nd Ed.). Berkshire, UK: Open University Press/McGraw-Hill.

Relevant journals

As the unit covers research methods and statistical techniques, knowledge and understanding of these topics will be enhanced by wide reading of international peer-reviewed journal articles from various domains of psychology, which can be accessed via the ACAP Library’s journal databases. Other readings are available from the online class space.

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.