Doctor of Psychology (Forensic)

Course summary for current students

Award granted Doctor of Psychology (Forensic)

4 years full-time

CRICOS course code040945G
Deakin course codeH952

Offered to continuing students only.

Course sub-headings

Course overview

The Doctor of Psychology (Forensic) aims to provide those who have completed a recognised four year psychology sequence/degree with the opportunity to obtain professional training in forensic psychology and develop the academic, practical and research skills required to register and practise as a forensic psychologist.

Throughout the course you will undertake a range of core units which are divided across coursework, placement and thesis requirements. Coursework includes units on applied methodology, interview and intervention skills, assessment and treatment of forensic clients, psychology and the law, psychopathology, and children and the legal system. You will have at least 200 days practical experience with forensic clinicians in four or more agencies and undertake supervised client work as appropriate. You will also have the opportunity to design, conduct and present a major thesis that reports the results of original research. This thesis is externally examined and is expected to reflect the program's status as a research degree. In addition to the coursework, placement and research components of the program, you will complete a professional portfolio, which is examined externally and based on cases from their placement work.

Throughout the course you will develop:

  • specialist knowledge of forensic psychology as well as the general knowledge and skills required by psychological practitioners
  • specialist knowledge of psychology and the law and assessment and treatment of offenders and victims
  • knowledge and competence in the theory and practice of psychological assessment
  • knowledge and awareness of the ethical principles of psychological practice, with particular relation to the practice of forensic psychology
  • experience of the practice of forensic psychology within a range of forensic settings
  • advanced levels of competence in the design and conduct of research in the area of child or family forensic psychology
  • an appreciation of the multidisciplinary practice of psychology through cooperation with professionals from other related disciplines during practicum placements.

You will also gain advanced knowledge and practical experience in the assessment and treatment of children and their families within a forensic setting.

Professional recognition

This course is accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) and meets the requirements for graduates to register as generalist psychologists with the Psychology Board of Australia, and for membership of the Australian Psychological Society (APS).

Graduates will be eligible to apply for membership of the College of Forensic Psychologists and endorsement as a Forensic Psychologist following one year of work experience supervised by a forensic psychologist, together with completion of stipulated professional development requirements.

Note: This course is currently accredited as at the date of publishing. The eligibility of students for membership of the accrediting body is subject to meeting the requirements of the APS and College of Forensic Psychologists. Deakin University makes no representation that students will meet those requirements.

Placement program

Your placement program will be worked out jointly by you, the placement coordinator and the practitioners supervising the placements. Forensic placements are tailored to your interests, skills and career aspirations and are designed to provide you with a range of professional skills, and to develop your awareness of ethical and professional issues. It is desirable that you gain experience with a range of client groups in a variety of organisational and correctional settings. Contracts will be drawn up that will clearly specify the skills to be mastered, your responsibilities and the responsibilities of the placement supervisor. Placement supervisors are registered and endorsed psychologists, eligible for membership of the College of Forensic Psychologists. Each placement requires completion of the full complement of days and failure of any one placement may result in exclusion from the course.

Course rules

The doctorate course consists of 24 credit points of work covering three interrelated strands: theory, research and practice.

Course structure

Level 1

Trimester 1

HPS914Studies in Psychopathology

HPS977Psychological Intervention 1

HPS978Biological and Neuropsychological Perspectives on Disorder

HPS979Psychological Assessment

Trimester 2

HPS924Research Thesis A

HPS934    Psychology and the Law - last offered 2015
HPS948    Forensic Placement 1 and Case Analysis Seminar 1 - last offered 2015

HPS976Issues in Professional Psychology


Level 2

Trimester 1

HPS907Advanced and Applied Research Methods

HPS932    Forensic Placement 2 - last offered 2015
HPS933    Assessment and Treatment of Forensic Clients - last offered 2015

HPS925Research Thesis B

Trimester 2

HPS926Research Thesis C

HPS935    Forensic Placement 3 - last offered 2015

HPS936    Psychosocial Issues in Forensic Psychology and Case Analysis Seminar 2 - last offered 2015

Level 3

Trimester 1

HPS927Research Thesis D

HPS943Child and Family Forensic Placement 1 and Case Conference Seminar A

HPS944     Children and the Law - last offered 2016

Trimester 2

HPS928Research Thesis E

HPS945Child and Family Forensic Placement 2 and Case Conference Seminar B

Note: All coursework units have a hurdle requirement of 80% attendance. A pass grade in a unit requires satisfactory completion of each component assessed.