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PSY3030 Abnormal Psychology

Semester 1, 2014 On-campus Springfield
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Psychology, Counselling and Community

Contents on this page


Examiner: Sonja March
Moderator: Gavin Beccaria


Pre-requisite: PSY2020


Abnormal behaviour is a major focus of theory, research, and practice in psychology. As a more specialised third level course, the content elaborates on concepts introduced in introductory courses and seeks to provide a foundation to later study of clinical and counselling theory and development of skills of intervention.


The course involves an elaboration of the main concepts and issues regarding abnormal behaviours and mental illness. Major questions addressed include: (1) what is mental illness? (2) what types of maladaptive behaviours and psychological disorders are there? (3) how are they classified? (4) what are the proposed aetiologies of these disorders and with what characteristics are they correlated? (5) what general modes are available to intervene in disorders? Students will require access to e-mail and internet access to USQConnect for this course.


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

  1. demonstrate a critical awareness of past and current Western notions of behavioural abnormality and mental illness;
  2. demonstrate an understanding of models of aetiology, assessment, and diagnosis in broad areas of psychological disorders;
  3. demonstrate an understanding of the types, processes, and issues related to collecting data relevant to assessment and treatment of psychological disorders;
  4. demonstrate an understanding of the counselling/clinical interview process through observation and reporting of clinical interviews, and participation in clinical related research or mock counselling sessions.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Note: Topics below are rough guide to relative emphases only.

History and Concepts of Mental Illness: Current Western understanding of psychological disorders will be traced from pre-Greek times to more modern critiques of psychiatry and clinical psychology. Various causal models of psychological disorders, and modes of assessment and intervention which logically follow from them, will be reviewed.
2. Assessment and Report writing: Including: Mental Status Examination, ethical issues and formulation of case reports. 10.00
3. Anxiety Disorders: Concepts of stress and anxiety will be discussed along with manifestations, diagnosis, and approaches to intervention in a variety of anxiety disorders. 10.00
4. Somatoform, Dissociative and Eating Disorders: Eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa and their diagnoses and presumed aetiology will also be discussed. 5.00
5. Mood Disorders: Models of depression and contemporary issues in classification and intervention in depression and mania, will be reviewed. 10.00
6. Schizophrenia: Classification, models, and management of a range of thought disorders will be reviewed. 10.00
7. Substance Dependence: Societal, family, and individual factors relating to substance dependence plus modes of intervention will be discussed. 10.00
8. Sexual Disorders: Manifestations and classification of, and approaches to intervention in, a variety of paraphilias and sexual dysfunctions will be reviewed. 5.00
9. Personality Disorders: A range of issues relating to classification and models of various personality disorders will be discussed. 10.00
10. Disorders of Childhood: Including conceptualisations, family issues and interventions. 10.00
11. Disorders of Aging: Including changing of demographics, diagnosis and interventions. 10.00
12. Legal, Ethical, and Professional Issues 5.00

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. (

  • Introductory Book 2012, Course PSY3030 Abnormal Behaviour, USQ Distance Education Centre, Toowoomba.
  • Rieger, E (2011), Abnormal Psychology: Leading Researcher Perspectives, 2nd edn, McGraw-Hill, Australia.
    (ISBN 0070287279.)
  • Study Book 2012, Course PSY3030 Abnormal Behaviour, USQ Distance Education Centre.

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.
  • American Journal of Psychiatry.
  • American Psychiatric Association (2000), Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV-TR (Text revision), American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DC.
    (Available online to USQ students on
  • Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
  • Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
  • Koocher, G.P., Norcross, J.C., & Hill, S.S (2005), Psychologists' Desk Reference, 2nd edn, Oxford University Press, Oxford, NY.
    (Available online via the USQ Library's eBrary Database.)

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Directed Study 50.00
Examinations 2.00
Lectures and Tutorials 39.00
Private Study 29.00
Report Writing 45.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
CASE REPORT - MSE 15 15 31 Mar 2014
CASE REPORT- FULL 30 30 26 May 2014
RESEARCH PARTICIPATION/REFLECT 5 5 09 Jun 2014 (see note 1)
2 HOUR M/C RESTRICTED EXAM 100 50 End S1 (see note 2)

  1. Students who participate in clinical psychology research are also expected to provide a 1 page (maximum) summary of the experience, in addition they are required to attach evidence that they have participated in the surveys. Students who do not have access to the internet need to contact the course examiner for an alternative assessment item.
  2. The examination will consist of 100 multiple choice questions. Examination dates will be available during the Semester. Please refer to the examination timetable when published. It is the student's responsibility to make themselves aware of the time, date, and venue of the examination and to attend accordingly.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratories and practical work) 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.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the total marks available for the assignment. Students do not have to satisfactorily complete each assessment item to be awarded a passing grade in this course. Refer to Statement 4 below for the requirements to receive a passing grade in this course.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  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. Note that the Conceded Pass is not available in this course due to APAC accreditation standard 2.1.9.

  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 obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    Candidates are allowed access only to specific materials during a Restricted Examination. The only materials that candidates may use in the restricted examination for this course are: writing materials (non-electronic and free from material which could give the student an unfair advantage in the examination). Students whose first language is not English, may, take an appropriate unmarked non-electronic translation dictionary (but not technical dictionary) into the examination. Dictionaries with any handwritten notes will not be permitted. Translation dictionaries will be subject to perusal and may be removed from the candidate's possession until appropriate disciplinary action is completed if found to contain material that could give the candidate an unfair advantage.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Any Deferred or Supplementary examinations for this course will be held during the next examination period.

  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 assessment is the date by which a student must upload the assessment via EASE The onus is on the student to provide proof that they successfully uploaded the assessment, if requested by the Examiner.

  2. Students are advised to use a 2B, or softer pencil, to indicate answers on the (red) computer-marked answer sheet, and a soft white eraser to make any changes on the red (computer-marked) answer sheet. Students are advised to CLEARLY mark their answers on BOTH the (red) computer-marked answer sheet AND the (blue) examination BOOKLET.

  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. //

  4. Reliable access to the internet is a requirement of this course as the course contains electronic assessment and/or submission elements. In order to avoid internet issues, on-campus students should upload their assignments into EASE using the on-campus computer laboratories. External students who knowingly do not have reliable access to the internet should actively seek alternative internet access (e.g., Internet cafes, local libraries, or work places) for assessment submission. External students are able to use the on-campus student computer laboratories once access has been enabled. To be granted access, external students need to contact ICT and ask to have a student account enabled so that they can work on-campus. This needs to be requested at least one week before access is required.