PSY420 Ethics and Current Issues in Psychology (8)

This subject gives students an in-depth understanding of the key ethical and professional responsibilities and intellectual debates central to being a psychologist today. It aims to promote critical thinking and reflexivity in both their academic and practical dimensions. The subject has two areas of focus. First it examines the ethical context of, and current issues in psychological practice by examining current laws, codes and standards pertaining to professional conduct. It also aims to develop the problem solving skills necessary for professional and responsible practice in all fields of Psychology. The second focus is on various current theoretical, methodological and applied debates within Psychology and the ethical issues raised by these debates.


Session 1 (30)
Bathurst Campus

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: PSY420. Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


School of Psychology

Enrolment Restrictions

4th year Psychology students only.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of the process of professional regulation for psychologists
  • be able to demonstrate familiarity with Australian legislation and laws that relate to the practice of psychology
  • be able to demonstrate familiarity with state and national codes of ethics and ethical guidelines for psychologists
  • be able to apply an ethical decision making model to ethical dilemmas
  • be able to demonstrate understanding of professional practice issues
  • be able to demonstrate understanding of current debates about theory, method, and application of psychology
  • be able to demonstrate comprehension of the political history and sociocultural context of psychology
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of the critical importance of reflexivity in psychology
  • be able to demonstrate how an understanding of all of the above components of the subject form part of the discipline's calling to reflective, critical and ethical practice


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • Psychologist registration acts, NSW, APS and other codes of ethics, APS ethical guidelines
  • Laws relating to the practice of psychology such as those concerning protection of privacy and access to information, reporting of child abuse and involuntary committal
  • Approaches to training in ethics for psychologists
  • Models, guidelines and frameworks for resolving ethical dilemmas
  • Professional practice issues such as competency, consent, risk of harm, dual relationships, rural practice, cross-cultural competency, burnout and ongoing professional development
  • Balanced understanding of the history of psychology
  • An understanding of psychology as a political enterprise
  • New approaches to theory and methodology
  • The nature of reflexive practice

Indicative Assessment

The following table summarises the assessment tasks for the online offering of PSY420 in Session 2 2020. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated and can also differ to suit the mode of study (online or on campus).

Item Number
Value %
Online residential school attendance
Evidence-based practice in psychology (ebpp)
Take-home test (tht)
Ethical decision-making journal

Residential School

This subject contains a 4 day Compulsory Residential School.

The information contained in the CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: May 2021. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.