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PSY4020 Ethical and Professional Practice

Semester 1, 2011 External Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Sciences
School or Department : Psychology

Contents on this page


Examiner: Lucille Douglas
Moderator: Nola Passmore


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in Program BSCH in Psychology major (12302) or in one of the following Programs: BPSH or BPSY


There are a number of ethical and professional issues that are common to the various specialised fields of psychological practice whether they be in clinical psychology, counselling psychology, neuropsychology, educational psychology, forensic psychology, or any other area of psychological practice. In all such fields psychologists are exposed to a variety of clinical issues. These issues can include, but are not limited to: client and therapist relationship, choice of theoretical orientation when conducting therapy, exposure to various clinical disorders (such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders and personality disorders), and how to recognise and handle the difficult client. In addition it is also recognised that psychologists need to be acutely aware of ethical codes of conduct, the competencies required for registration, the National Practice Standards and how these guidelines affect the daily practice of psychology in Australia.


This course is designed to introduce the student to a number of issues involved in the professional practice of psychology. Various issues such as working with challenging populations, learning, knowing, and applying ethical guidelines, and evaluating various ethical dilemmas in a variety of clinical settings (through real life and simulated case studies) will be explored. Students must be able to access StudyDesk.


On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate an awareness of ethical issues that influence psychological professional practice;
  2. relate basic skills of psychological practice to underlying theory and to concepts of professionalism.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Ethics 30.00
2. Psychologist Competencies 10.00
3. National Practice Standards 10.00
4. Boundary Crossing and Boundary Violations 30.00
5. The Role of the Therapist 10.00
6. Dealing with Difficult Clients 10.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Yalom, I.D 1989, Love's Executioner: And Other Tales of Psychotherapy, Bloomsbury, London.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Assessments 45.00
Private Study 95.00
Residential Schools 32.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
CASE VIGNETTES 40 45 28 Mar 2011 (see note 1)
ETHICS ANALYSIS ASSIGNMENT 174 10 28 Mar 2011 (see note 2)
1500 - 2000 WORD ESSAY 20 45 23 May 2011 (see note 3)

  1. Examiner will advise due date for the Case Vignettes.
  2. Examiner will advise due date for the Ethics Analysis Assignment.
  3. Examiner will advise the due date for the 1500 - 2000 Word Essay.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as workshops and the on-line discussion group) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration. Participation in on-campus workshops is a mandatory requirement of Psychology Honours, and PSY4020. The skills components of this course will be across several compulsory workshops to be held on campus. If circumstances prevent a student from attending a workshop, the student will either fail the course or be required to repeat the course in the next year.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To complete each of the assessment items satisfactorily, students must obtain at least 50% of the total marks available from the summative assessment.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without (prior) approval of the examiner then a penalty of 5% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment may apply for each working day late up to ten working days at which time a mark of zero may be recorded. No assignments will be accepted after model answers have been posted.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course. Due to accreditation requirements the grade of Low Pass cannot be applied in compulsory psychology courses. (PSY4020 being one such course). Any student whose final marks are in the 45-49% range will be given the opportunity to complete make-up work. Successful completion of the make-up work will result in a passing grade being awarded. Non-completion or unsuccessful completion of such work will result in a failing grade being awarded.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the weighted aggregate of the marks (or grades) obtained for each of the summative items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There will be no examination for this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    As there are no examinations in this course, there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be produced within 24 hours if required by the Examiner.

  3. APA style is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use APA style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The APA style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide. //