Master of Psychology - Distance

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  • Objectives
    CSU’s Master of Psychology provides four-year trained psychologists with the opportunity to upgrade their qualifications, knowledge and skills. This course offers both a clinical and a forensic strand.
  • Academic title
    Master of Psychology
  • Course description
    About the course

    CSU’s Master of Psychology aims to provide specialist training in clinical and forensic psychology, with a specific focus on the needs of rural and remote communities. In addition, it aims to instil an awareness of the importance of research in the development of professional psychology, and develop skills to undertake this research.

    The Master of Psychology aims to meet two needs: the need for better psychological services in rural Australia, and the need to provide training for those psychologists already working within applied settings and who wish to study part-time or by distance education.

    The course is offered by distance education and involves coursework, a dissertation reporting the results of an empirical research project and four professional placements. Three coursework subjects undertaken during the first three years of the course (PSY531, PSY523, and PSY525) have a significant forensic component but are primarily clinical in content. Subjects undertaken during the fourth year are either exclusively forensic (PSY526) or exclusively clinical (PSY527) in content. Subjects that provide an introduction to clinical psychology (PSY528) or forensic (PSY529) are undertaken in the first year, and provide an orientation to the Problem-Based Learning approach adopted throughout the course.

    The course is structured to be completed part-time over four years, but may be completed in a shorter time if students are able to study full-time (i.e. if they do not have full-timework commitments).

    Professional accreditation

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

    Professional placements

    In each year of the Master of Psychology course students are expected to complete one professional placement of 250 hours. The four professional placements are integrated within the following subjects, and focus on the relevant client population. 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.

    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

    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 MPsych 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 and fourth year of the MPsych students undertake the research component of the degree (PSY530 Research Dissertation; 16 credit points in each year).  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, in the case of the MPsych, the writing of a Dissertation in the form of a paper ready for submission to an appropriate refereed journal.

    All students enrolled in PSY530 Research 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.

    Access to allowances for study

    The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) has announced the extension of student income support to students undertaking study in a number of professionally-oriented Master by coursework degrees. Eligible students undertaking approved Master courses will be able to access Youth Allowance, Austudy and the Pensioner Education Supplement.

    Transfer into the Doctor of Psychology

    The coursework subjects in the Master of Psychology are the same as those in the first two-thirds of the Doctor of Psychology, and credit is available for these subjects for students transferring to the Doctorate, however, students wishing to transfer from the Master degree to the Doctorate should ensure this transfer is effected at the end of the second year of the Master program. The reason for this is that whilst the dissertation in both the Master degree and the Doctorate commence at the same point in each course, in the Master program it is a 32 point dissertation taken over two years, whereas for the Doctor of Psychology it is a 64 point dissertation over four years.

    Residential schools

    In every session there will be a compulsory residential school of between three and five days duration. 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.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    1. Is the CSU Master of Psychology recognised by the APS for entry into its Colleges of Clinical or Forensic Psychologists?

    Yes. You need to indicate in your application which College you will seek membership of. The Master of Psychology has two strands, a Clinical and a Forensic strand.

    2. Is it possible to upgrade from the Master of Psychology to the Doctor of Psychology at CSU?

    Yes. This is our preferred entry to the DPsych for applicants who do not already have a MPsych (either Clinical or Forensic). Students can start with the MPsych degree. After completing 64 points (i.e. two years part-time) they can apply to transfer to the DPsych. This is not automatic, however, and it is necessary to perform throughout the Master degree at a doctoral level (i.e. Distinction average).

    3. Is there a mid-year intake into the Master of Psychology?

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

    4. If I was accepted into the Master of Psychology , could one or more of 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 each of the four placements?

    There are four placements of 250 hours each. 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 Master 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 two-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 Master of Psychology course.

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