Psychology in Australian universities

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Wilson, P & Provost, S 2006, ‘Psychology in Australian universities’, International Journal of Psychology, vol. 41, no. 1, pp. 3-9.
The publisher version of this article is availble at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00207590444000393

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All but three universities in Australia have departments or schools of psychology. In the older universities (e.g., the universities of Sydney, Melbourne, and Western Australia), the psychology departments evolved from philosophy departments in the late 1920s and early 1930s. There was a rapid expansion of universities in the 1960s, which led to the establishment of many new psychology departments. In a further expansion in the late 1980s, many former institutes of advanced education were afforded university status or were merged with existing universities. In these newer universities, psychology had been taught primarily to students in nursing and education, but these academic areas later evolved from “service” departments into larger and broader psychology departments. There is a strong system of accreditation of psychology departments, a function that is provided by the Australian Psychological Society. The APS conducts reviews of all departments of psychology on a 5-year cycle. This system of accreditation was significantly strengthened in the mid-1990s. Graduates who wish to become members of the APS must have completed their degrees within an accredited program (or the equivalent for applicants from other counties). Australian psychology programs are of three types. A 3-year degree in psychology, often combined with other subjects such as teaching, is a popular major, but does not prepare psychologists. A 4-year program, with a fourth-year honours program requiring a thesis and study of ethics and practical applications, is required for those who wish to practise psychology. Graduate (postgraduate) degrees are also offered to prepare psychologists. Each university has some autonomy in the structure of the programs, and emphasis varies. Structure of courses also varies somewhat. Distance education and on-line courses, although still controversial in Australia, are rapidly increasing in availability. More typically, courses are taught using lectures, group discussions, papers, presentations, and exams.