BEHV 3002 Abnormal Psychology

Credit Points 10

Legacy Code 101681

Coordinator Masud Ibrahim Opens in new window

Description This subject is focused on Psychopathology, which is the study of behaviours that cause distress or functional impairment or are judged as deviant within the individual’s culture. This subject examines definitions of psychopathology, ways of assessing and diagnosing, theories of the causation of psychopathology and treatments for recognised psychological disorders. Diagnostic criteria from the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders are applied to illustrative cases with emphasis on contemporary Australian research and theory. The development of integrated models of psychopathology, including biological, psychological and social factors, is a significant theme of the subject.

School Psychology

Discipline Behavioural Science

Student Contribution Band HECS Band 4 10cp

Check your fees via the Fees page.

Level Undergraduate Level 3 subject

Pre-requisite(s) BEHV 1016 AND
BEHV 1018

Incompatible Subjects BEHV 3003 - Abnormal Psychology (online)


Note that only students enrolled at WSU Online may register in the WSU Online subjects offered at that location.

Assumed Knowledge

A basic understanding of core concepts of personality, social and developmental psychology.

Learning Outcomes

After successful completion of this subject, students will be able to: 

  1.  Distinguish features of contemporary theories of psychopathology within the major paradigms, and examine relationships between causal theory, diagnostic criteria and approaches to treatment  (APAC Graduate Attribute 1.1, 1.iii, 1.1iv, 1.1viii, 1.3).
  2.  Analyse theories of psychopathology in cultural contexts, including from Indigenous Australian perspectives (APAC GA 1.1iii, 1.1xi, 1.2, 1.4).
  3.  Apply diagnostic criteria to case material and research methodologies to discern the aetiology, course, and treatment of psychological disorders (APAC GA 1.1 1.1iii, 1.1iv, 1.1viii, 1.1xii, 1.3).
  4.  Critically evaluate empirical reports through literature searches and reviews (APAC GA 1.1xii, 1.3, 1.6).
  5.   Communicate findings from research, including professional perspectives, in an effective manner  (APAC GA, 1.3, 1.5, 1.6).

Subject Content

1. Definitions, history and scope of psychopathology; psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioural, existential-humanistic and systems approaches to causation and treatment of abnormality; 

2. Goals and ethics of counselling/therapy; the clinical assessment interview; diagnostic classification systems; a detailed analysis of DSM-5; 

3. The impact of culture, gender and developmental stage on diagnosis and treatment; a bio-psycho-social model; 

4. Stress, trauma and coping: vulnerability and reactions to stress across the lifespan; psychological factors affecting physical health, psychophysiological and somatic symptom disorders; adjustment disorders; dissociative disorders; 

5. Anxiety disorders: diagnosis, aetiology and treatment from an integrated bio-psycho-social perspective; 

6. Developmental and neurocognitive disorders: with emphasis on pervasive developmental disorders in childhood and neurocognitive disorders of adulthood; 

7. Eating disorders; 

8. Substance use disorders; 

9. Psychotic disorders; 

10. Mood disorders: major depressive disorder; bipolar disorder; the depression-suicide link; 

11. Sexual variations and disorders: the continuum of human sexuality and problems of identifying and treating sexual disorders; 

12. Personality disorders: definitional problems and classification; borderline personality disorder.


The following table summarises the standard assessment tasks for this subject. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated, where there is a difference your Learning Guide takes precedence.

Type Length Percent Threshold Individual/Group Task
Literature Review 1,500 words 30 N Individual
Reflection 1,500 words (3x500 word reflection tasks) 30 N Individual
Final Exam 1.5 hours 30 Y Individual
Quiz 10 10 N Individual

Prescribed Texts

  • There is no hardcopy prescribed text for this subject. However, an electronic ebook is available to purchase at a reduced rate to students, details are on the vUWS site. This ebook is adapted from Rieger, E. (2017). Abnormal psychology: leading researcher perspectives (4th ed.). North Ryde, Australia: McGraw-Hill education.

Teaching Periods

WSU Online TRI-1 (2024)

Wsu Online


Subject Contact Masud Ibrahim Opens in new window

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Sydney City Campus - Term 2 (2024)

Sydney City


Subject Contact Masud Ibrahim Opens in new window

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Spring (2024)

Bankstown City


Subject Contact Craig Gonsalvez Opens in new window

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Penrith (Kingswood)


Subject Contact Craig Gonsalvez Opens in new window

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Parramatta - Victoria Rd


Subject Contact Craig Gonsalvez Opens in new window

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WSU Online TRI-3 (2024)

Wsu Online


Subject Contact Rosalind Priestman Opens in new window

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