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Unit of study_

PSYC3018: Abnormal Psychology

Semester 1, 2021 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit of study critically examines core issues in abnormal psychology, concerning the description, explanation and treatment of psychological disorders. The unit of study will include topics such as: (a) Adult abnormal psychology: Anxiety and related disorders (specific phobias, panic disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, OCD, PTSD); Substance-related and Addictive disorders (drug, alcohol, gambling); Eating disorders (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa); Depressive disorders, Bipolar disorders; Schizophrenia, Personality disorders. (b) Child abnormal psychology: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; Conduct disorder; Anxiety disorders, Depression.

Unit details and rules

Unit code PSYC3018
Academic unit Psychology Academic Operations
Credit points 6
(PSYC2010 or PSYC2910 or PSYC2011 or PSYC2911 or PSYC2015 or PSYC2915)
Assumed knowledge

(PSYC2014 or PSYC2017)

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Rebekah Laidsaar-Powell,
Lecturer(s) Rebekah Laidsaar-Powell,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Take-home short release) Type D final exam hurdle task Final take home exam
3 hour short release take-home assessment
45% Formal exam period 3 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Tutorial quiz Quiz 1
Online quiz on lecture and tutorial content (weeks 1-3)
5% Week 04 15 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Tutorial quiz Quiz 2
Assessment on weeks 4-6
5% Week 07 15 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO4 LO3 LO2 LO1
Assignment Written assignment
Essay focusing on diagnosis and treatment
35% Week 08
Due date: 26 Apr 2021 at 23:59

Closing date: 24 May 2021
2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO4
Tutorial quiz Quiz 3
Assessment on weeks 7-9
5% Week 10 15 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
Tutorial quiz Quiz 4
Assessment on weeks 10-12
5% Week 13 15 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO3 LO2
hurdle task = hurdle task ?
Type D final exam = Type D final exam ?

Assessment summary

  • Written assignment: The essay question, marking criteria, and guidelines for writing the assignment will be posted on Canvas at the start of week 2, and discussed in the first tutorial in week 2. Because this is a compulsory assessment requirement, if you do not submit a serious attempt, you will receive an AF (Absent Fail) for PSYC3018.
  • Online quizzes:  Four short quizzes covering lecture and tutorial material will be delivered online throughout the semester. Its main purpose is to provide you with feedback on how well you have learnt the material so far.
  • Examination: Short release (3 hour) take home exam. The examination will cover material from lectures, tutorials and the textbook.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

At HD level, a student demonstrates a flair for the subject as well as a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the unit material. A ‘High Distinction’ reflects exceptional achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates the ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding to produce original solutions for novel or highly complex problems and/or comprehensive critical discussions of theoretical concepts.


75 - 84

At DI level, a student demonstrates an aptitude for the subject and a well-developed understanding of the unit material. A ‘Distinction’ reflects excellent achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates an ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding of the subject to produce good solutions for challenging problems and/or a reasonably well-developed critical analysis of theoretical concepts.


65 - 74

At CR level, a student demonstrates a good command and knowledge of the unit material. A ‘Credit’ reflects solid achievement and is awarded to a student who has a broad general understanding of the unit material and can solve routine problems and/or identify and superficially discuss theoretical concepts.


50 - 64

At PS level, a student demonstrates proficiency in the unit material. A ‘Pass’ reflects satisfactory achievement and is awarded to a student who has threshold knowledge.


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 1. Mental disorders, and DSM. Generalised Anxiety Disorder; 2. Panic Disorder & Agoraphobia Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 02 1. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders; 2. Trauma-Related Disorders: PTSD Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Introduction to mental disorders Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 03 1. Transdiagnostic Issues - Death Anxiety; 2. Mood/Depressive Disorders Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Anxiety disorders Tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 04 1. Bipolar disorders; 2. Schizophrenia and other Psychotic Disorders Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Bipolar disorder Tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 05 1. Child internalising disorders: Anxiety; 2. Child externalising disorders: Depression Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Psychosis Tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 06 1. Developmental psychopathology, ADHD and ASD; 2. Child externalising disorders: Conduct disorder Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Child internalising disorders Tutorial (2 hr) LO2
Week 07 1. Child externalising disorders: Treatment; 2. Eating Disorders: Anorexia Nervosa Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Child externalising disorders Tutorial (2 hr) LO2
Week 08 1. Eating Disorders: Bulimia Nervosa; 2. Eating Disorders: Binge Eating Disorder Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 09 1. Family therapy; 2. Body Dysmorphic Disorder Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 10 1. Addictive Disorders: Substance Use; 2. Behavioural addictions 1: Definition & conceptual issues Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Eating disorders Tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO4
Week 11 1. Behavioural addictions 2: Gambling & gaming disorders; 2. Personality Disorders Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Gambling addiction Tutorial (2 hr) LO2
Week 12 1. Personality Disorders: Treatment; 2. Sexual Dysfunctions Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO3
Personality disorders Tutorial (2 hr) LO2
Week 13 1. Critiques of DSM; 2. Health psychology Lecture (2 hr) LO1
Feedback Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

Attendance and class requirements

Due to the exceptional circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, attendance requirements for this unit of study have been amended. Where online tutorials/workshops/virtual laboratories have been scheduled, students should make every effort to attend and participate at the scheduled time. Penalties will not be applied if technical issues, etc. prevent attendance at a specific online class. In that case, students should discuss the problem with the coordinator, and attend another session, if available.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed on the Library eReserve link available on Canvas.

  • Required textbook: Rieger, E. (Ed.) (2017) Abnormal Psychology: Leading researcher perspectives. Sydney: McGraw-Hill
    Education (4 th Edition).

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. understand core concepts in abnormal psychology in their historical and philosophical contexts
  • LO2. identify the core diagnostic features of specific psychological disorders and differentiate these from normal behaviours, as well as from the features of other disorders
  • LO3. compare and contrast theoretical perspectives on the nature, causes, and maintenance of psychological disorders
  • LO4. seek, identify and critically examine empirical evidence concerning the causes, maintenance and treatment of psychological disorders.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Changes have been made to the frequency and weight of tutorial quizzes, exam type, and weightings of the exam and written assessment.

“Supplementary materials” (e.g., podcasts, videos) will be posted on Canvas for further learning related to each lecture topic. These materials are not examinable in any form, and are purely to deepen student learning.

Work, health and safety

We are governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and Codes of Practice. Penalties for non-compliance have increased. Everyone has a responsibility for health and safety at work. The University’s Work Health and Safety policy explains the responsibilities and expectations of workers and others, and the procedures for managing WHS risks associated with University activities.

General Laboratory Safety Rules

  • No eating or drinking is allowed in any laboratory under any circumstances
  • A laboratory coat and closed-toe shoes are mandatory
  • Follow safety instructions in your manual and posted in laboratories
  • In case of fire, follow instructions posted outside the laboratory door
  • First aid kits, eye wash and fire extinguishers are located in or immediately outside each laboratory
  • As a precautionary measure, it is recommended that you have a current tetanus immunisation. This can be obtained from University Health Service:


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.