Doctor of Psychology (Health)

Course summary for local students

Year2016 course information
Award granted Doctor of Psychology (Health)
Cloud (online)No

4 years full time

Next available intake

March (Trimester 1)

CSP annual fee (indicative) - commencing 2016No fees defined
Full fee paying annual fee - commencing 2016No fees defined
LevelHigher Degree Research
Faculty contacts

Applications must be submitted online via the applicant portal. Further information on the application process is available at the Apply for postgraduate by coursework website. Refer to the Additional Documentation website for more requirements.

Other research enquiries should be directed to:

Research Administrator
Tel 03 9251 7174

Refer to the Apply for a research degree website

CRICOS course code040946G
Deakin course code H953

Course sub-headings

Course overview

The Doctor of Psychology (Health) provides you with the opportunity to obtain professional training in health psychology and develop the academic, practical and research skills required to register and practise as a health psychologist. After successfully completing this course you will be qualified for employment as a psychologist in any area of health psychology, including clinical health and health promotion.

Throughout the course, you will develop:

  1. specialist knowledge of health psychology as well as the general knowledge and skills required by psychological practitioners;
  2. advanced knowledge and practical experience in the areas of health promotion and preventative health strategies;
  3. knowledge and competence in the theory and practice of psychological assessment relevant to health psychology;
  4. knowledge and awareness of the ethical principles of psychological practice, and in particular in relation to health psychology; and
  5. advanced levels of competence in the design and conduct of research through completion of a major thesis.

The course is based on the scientist/professional model: before engaging in any clinical intervention, prevention or health promotion strategy it is essential to evaluate the present situation and set appropriate goals that can also be evaluated. The evaluation and definition of the presenting situation is followed by the formulation of the goals of the intervention or health promotion strategy, an assessment of the approach most appropriate to achieve these goals, implementation of the chosen strategies, and an evaluation of the effectiveness of the chosen approach in achieving the stated goals. From this major thrust, students will be equipped with a range of different therapeutic interventions and health promotion strategies, with an emphasis on research findings that relate to the effectiveness of different interventions and strategies across different problems and areas of need.

The units in the program have been developed so that they provide the input to achieve the general aims of any health psychology program, that is, the development of skills in the areas of health promotion and prevention, together with relevant diagnostic, assessment, intervention and evaluation skills. In-depth coverage will be achieved in the third year units to provide an understanding of issues related to health promotion and preventative health strategies and extended placements will be undertaken in agencies specialising in these areas. Students will design, undertake and present a major thesis reporting the results of a piece of original research of appropriate quality on a relevant topic. As part of their thesis requirements, students also complete a professional portfolio which is examined externally and is based on cases from their placement.

Professional recognition

The course has been accredited by the Australian Psychological 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 Health Psychologists and endorsement as a Health Psychologist following one year of work experience supervised by a health 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 Health Psychologists. Deakin University makes no representation that students will meet those requirements.

Career opportunities

Health psychologists are specialists in health behaviour change, and investigate the links between psychological and social factors, and physical health in order to improve health and prevent illness. Health psychologists may work in two main areas – health promotion, which involves the prevention of illness and the promotion of health-related behaviour; and clinical health psychology which relates to the application of psychological principles to the assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of illness.

As a health psychologist you may be involved in the promotion of positive health behaviours aimed at reducing risk factors associated with chronic conditions such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. You may work with other health professionals and provide advice regarding the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that contribute to ill health and how these can be altered, and design public health programs focused on behavioural change related to exercise, smoking, drug and alcohol consumption, and cancer prevention.

Course rules

The 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

HPS976Issues in Professional Psychology

HPS979Psychological Assessment

Trimester 2

HPS907Advanced and Applied Research Methods

HPS924Research Thesis A

HPS937Health Placement and Case Analysis 1

HPS978Biological and Neuropsychological Perspectives on Disorder

Level 2

Trimester 1

HPS925Research Thesis B

HPS951Advanced Health Assessment

HPS938Health Placement and Case Analysis 2

Trimester 2

HPS926Research Thesis C

HPS940Health Placement and Case Analysis 3

HPS941Psychosocial Issues in Health

HPS939Unit description is currently unavailable

Level 3

Trimester 1

HPS927Research Thesis D

HPS946Health Placement and Case Analysis 4

HPS947Health Promotion Psychology

Trimester 2

HPS942Health Placement 5

HPS928Research Thesis E

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

Placement program

Your placement program will be worked out jointly by you, the placement coordinator and the practitioners supervising the placements. The placements are designed to equip you with a range of professional skills and to develop an awareness of professional issues. You will have placements in a range of community, hospital and health promotion 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 Health Psychologists. Each placement requires completion of the full complement of days and failure of any one placement may result in exclusion from the course.

Entry requirements - general

Admission to research degree candidature is normally granted on the basis of a Bachelors degree with Honours or a Bachelors degree followed by a post graduate diploma in psychology.
For more information visit The Guide.

Entry requirements - specific

The prerequisite for entry to the course is the completion of a four-year sequence of study in an accredited psychology program which meets national registration requirements and eligibility for Associate Membership of the APS, or equivalent. The four-year sequence may be either an honours program or the combination of a three-year undergraduate degree including a psychology major and an approved postgraduate program.

Entry will be competitive, based on academic results, referees' reports and interview before a panel of school selection staff. It would normally be expected that applicants will have achieved a minimum Honours grade of H2A or equivalent. Relevant professional experience will be a factor in selection.

How to apply

Applications must be submitted online via the applicant portal. Further information on the application process is available at the Apply for postgraduate coursework website. Refer to the Additional Documentation website for more requirements.