PSYC3303 Psychological Science in the Modern World: Challenges and Controversies

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 core unit in the Psychology in Society; Psychology major sequences
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Life and Health Sciences
  • Category B broadening unit for students
  • Level 3 elective
This unit exposes students to the major debates and controversies in modern psychology. The unit examines a series of contemporary practical or theoretical debates through a set of lectures addressing different social problems. The objective is that students use the skills taught to them in this and other units to appraise the theoretical and practical implications of various perspectives in any debate. The topics vary from year to year as debates in society and in the field of psychology change. Topics include climate change, energy and water conservation, social conflict, educational disadvantage and the criminal justice system.
Students are able to (1) understand how psychological theories, methods and research findings can be applied to everyday and important human problems; (2) understand the ways in which psychological theories, methods and research findings have in the past been applied to real-world problems, including the obstacles to such application; (3) identify the consequences of failing to take account of human behaviour in devising policy interventions; (4) have a deeper understanding of how scientific investigation can assist in resolving debates policy; (5) demonstrate communication skills for translating psychological theory into practical application for both lay and professional audiences; and (6) demonstrate an enhanced capacity for collaboration in problem-focused think tanks to devise solutions to real-life problems.
Typically this unit is assessed in the following ways: (1) assignments; (2) in-class assessment; and (3) examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor Carmen Lawrence
Unit rules
PSYC1101 Psychology: Mind and Brain
PSYC1102 Psychology: Behaviour in Context
PSYC2203 Psychological Research Methods and one other Level 2 Psychology unit
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week; Practical Classes: 1 hour per week
Unit Outline
Enrolled students can access unit material via LMS (Learning Management System).

Students are exposed to topics in psychology units that may cause some discomfort or distress in certain individuals (e.g. depression, suicide, trauma, eating disorders). They are required to demonstrate skills across a variety of different formats and contexts (e.g. written assessments, participation in practical work, contribution to group discussions, oral presentations, examinations), and so it is important to carefully consider whether they are able to cope with the demands of studying psychology and whether there is anything that would impact upon their ability to complete the requirements of the unit. Refer to individual unit outlines for more detailed unit information.

There is no assigned text. Students are provided with selected articles on the relevant research and theory in psychology, current affairs and policy. These are posted as PDFs on LMS (Learning Management System).

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available at the University Co-operative Bookshop (from early January) and appropriate administrative offices for students to consult. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.