Doctor of Psychology - Distance

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  • Objectives
    At CSU, the chief objective of the Doctor of Psychology program is to provide advanced knowledge and training to practitioners. It encompasses coursework, professional placement and the completion of a dissertation.
  • Academic title
    Doctor of Psychology
  • Course description
    Doctor of Psychology (Clinical) DPsych(Clinical)
    Doctor of Psychology (Forensic)

    About the course

    The chief objective of the Doctor of Psychology program is to provide advanced knowledge and training to practitioners. Specific objectives are to bring to their professional practice a clearer understanding of the relationship between research and practice, a clearer understanding of ethical issues, and advanced knowledge and skills in the student’s chosen area of specialisation in clinical or forensic psychology.

    Completion of the Doctor of Psychology involves coursework, professional placements and a dissertation reporting on the results of an empirical research project.

    Professional accreditation

    The course is accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC).

    Residential schools

    In the first four years of the course, there will be a compulsory residential school of between three and five days duration held every session. Autumn session residential schools will be scheduled in either January/February, or April/May, and Spring session residential schools in September/October. In first year, students attend residential schools in January/February for five days, and in September for four days.

    In each of the final two years of the course, a compulsory residential school will be held in January/February over 7 days.

    Professional placements

    Students are expected to complete one professional placement of 250 hours in each year of the first four years of the course. These professional placements are integrated within the following subjects, and focus on the relevant client population.

    PSY531 Adult Mental Health
    Placement may be completed in a forensic setting for students in the forensic strand

    PSY523 Problems Emerging During Childhood and Adolescence
    Placement may be completed in a Juvenile Justice setting for students in the forensic strand

    PSY525 Human Neuropsychology
    Placement may be completed in one of the following settings: neuropsychology; rehabilitation; developmental disabilities; behavioural medicine; or psychogerontology

    PSY526 The Forensic Psychologist in Practice or
    PSY527 The Clinical Psychologist in Practice
    A specialist placement in either a forensic or clinical setting as appropriate

    Over the fifth and sixth year of the course, students complete one professional placement of 500 hours integrated within one of the following subjects:

    PSY705 Advanced Clinical Psychology or
    PSY712 Advanced Forensic Psychology

    The evaluation of the student’s performance will contribute 20% of the mark to the student’s final result in the subject in which the placement has been undertaken. Each placement must be successfully completed for the student to pass the subject.

    It is possible to do a mixture of clinical and forensic placements, but requirements of College Membership must be kept in mind when placements are organised.

    While on placement students are supervised by a qualified Clinical or Forensic Psychologist with at least two years professional experience, or a designated individual with equivalent experience.  Other psychologists, including University staff, may be involved in supplementing this supervision in limited areas at the discretion of the main supervisor. In arranging placements, the student's preferences, prior experience, and current needs are taken into account.  Given the varied locations of students enrolled in the course, the responsibility for locating or exploring local placement options rests largely with the student.  University staff may assist in locating options should difficulties arise in this process.

    Since a placement may necessitate travelling a considerable distance, students may undertake placement hours in a single block format (5 days a week for 7 weeks), or they may divide their block placement into two or more sections (eg. 4 weeks, then three weeks, with time intervening), in order to take advantage of study leave or vacation arrangements.  Alternatively, students undertaking field placement in settings closer to home may complete their placement by attending one or two days per week for a more extended period.

    Research Component

    The research component has two stages.  The first stage involves completing an eight credit point academic subject (PSY524 Research Methods) which develops research skills and knowledge for students to apply in clinical or forensic settings.  Both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies are employed.  The perspective presented in this subject is that research should be perceived as part of the psychologist's normal professional role.  The subject is taught in the second year prior to the students formally beginning their research for the doctoral dissertation. A component of this subject is the preparation of a written research proposal.  This proposal would normally form the basis for the dissertation subject commenced the following year.

    During the third year students begin the research component of the degree (PSY723 Doctoral Dissertation). Working more closely with supervisors, students finalise the research design. The Research Proposal is presented in an open seminar to allow staff and peers to contribute to its final development. The major outcome of this stage of the course is the implementation of the research, under appropriate supervision by a member of staff, and the writing of the doctoral dissertation.

    All students enrolled in PSY723 Doctoral Dissertation have at least one staff member appointed as primary supervisor. In some cases, where the expertise of more than one staff member is required, or where it is appropriate to have a field supervisor, a co-supervisor may also be appointed. Supervisors will be chosen on the basis of experience and knowledge in the area appropriate to the student's dissertation.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    1. I already have a Master of Psychology (Clinical or Forensic). Would I be eligible for credit if admitted to the Doctor of Psychology course?

    Applicants who have previously completed a Master of Psychology (Clinical or Forensic) are eligible to receive full credit in the Doctoral course for the coursework they have undertaken, leaving only the Doctoral coursework and research components to be completed – referred to as ‘doctoral-level entry’. Unfortunately, no credit can be granted for the research component of the Doctoral course.

    The ‘doctoral-level entry’ program is usually completed over 3 years: 32 credit points of coursework (over 2 years); a professional placement of 500 hours (which may be undertaken in your workplace, subject to appropriate supervision and practicum activities at an advanced level); and a research project leading to a dissertation (64 credit points over 3 years). The coursework and research components will require attendance at residential schools at Bathurst (7 days in late January/early February in the first 2 years; 3 in the last year).

    2. I have a Master of Psychology degree in another specialisation. What credit would I be eligible for if admitted to the Doctor of Psychology course?

    Applicants who have a Master of Psychology in a different specialisation (i.e. not clinical or forensic) may be admitted to the Doctoral course, but may be required to complete one or more of the Masters coursework subjects before commencing subjects at the Doctoral (6th and 7th year) level. Coursework credit can only be given where equivalence between completed subjects and those in the Doctoral course can be demonstrated.

    3. Is there a mid-year intake into the DPsych?

    Intake is only once a year (January). Applications close at the end of October of the previous year.

    4. If I was accepted into the Doctor of Psychology course, could my placements be undertaken at my current workplace?

    Yes, some placement experience may be undertaken at your current workplace, subject to the workplace meeting the requirements of the placement, and the availability of appropriate (College member or equivalent) supervision. Normally this will be restricted to one placement.

    5. What is the recommended duration of the placements?

    There are four placements of 250 hours each, and one placement of 500 hours. Each placement requires one hour of supervision for each day on placement.

    6. I am already registered as a Psychologist and have extensive experience since registering. Can I receive credit for the placements?

    The placements are integrated within the coursework subjects and must be completed in order to satisfy the course requirements. Credit cannot be given for previous placements or experience.

    7. What supporting statements are required with the application for the Doctor of Psychology course?

        * Academic transcripts
        * Evidence of registration
        * Referees reports

    8. Is it possible to waive the requirement of registration for enrolment?

    Unfortunately there is no way around the 2-year registration requirement for enrolment in our course The reason for this is that distance education students do not have the opportunity to undertake a placement in a university clinic where students would normally obtain initial clinical competencies before commencing their placements.

    9.  I already have a PhD. Do I need to complete the research component of this course?

    Yes. The APAC accreditation requirements prevent the University from granting credit for research in the Doctor of Psychology course.


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