Psychology: Status, Issues and Controversies

By Trinder, John | Journal of Australian Studies, June 2002 | Go to article overview

Psychology: Status, Issues and Controversies

Trinder, John, Journal of Australian Studies

Psychology has a relatively recent history in Australia. Although the first department of Psychology was established in 1929 at the University of Sydney, similar developments did not occur in other universities until after the second world war. This was in contrast with Europe and most particularly North America, where departments of Psychology flourished in the early part of the century. Nevertheless, since the late 1940s there has been substantial growth of the discipline within Australia, mirroring similar developments in other countries. While the organisational origins of Psychology in Australia were through the British Psychological Society, the greatest intellectual influence has been the United States.

Broadly defined, Psychology is the science of (human) behaviour. As such it is a very diverse discipline, on the one hand sharing with Physiology an interest in the biological bases of behaviour, and on the other sharing with Sociology a concern with society and behaviour. In a similar fashion Psychology contributes to fields as disparate as Cognitive Science, Philosophy, Health, Psychiatry, Organisational Management and Education. Thus, at this time Psychology is an integral part of many students' education. The popularity of Psychology appears to be a consequence of four major factors: its intrinsic interest; its perceived relevance to life in modern society; its role as a helping profession; and its utility in the job market.

In placing Psychology within the context of the social sciences it is important to note that in its origins, Psychology as a science was primarily influenced by the physical and biological sciences. Indeed, this emphasis remains predominant today and, as discussed below, strongly influences debate on contentious issues within the discipline. Further, this ideological identification has meant Psychology has been relatively, though not uniformly, isolated from ideas, such as for example, postmodernism and globalism, which have strongly influenced other fields within the social sciences.

In a similar vein, in comparison to other social sciences, Psychology is, in many of its areas of interest, relatively independent of culture (the relativity of this statement is emphasised). There is, for example, no field of `Australian Psychology'. As a consequence, the prevailing influences on Psychology have been from international sources, although local issues play a more important role at an organisational and administrative level.

Structure of Psychology programs

Undergraduate programs

A brief description of undergraduate programs has been presented because the structure of postgraduate training in Psychology cannot be appreciated without considering the nature of undergraduate training in the discipline.

At an undergraduate level Psychology is typically taken as part of a generalist degree, as for example in faculties of science or arts. While some universities offer specialist degrees in Psychology, the structure of these degrees does not differ significantly from generalist degrees. In each case a substantial portion of subjects are taken outside Psychology. To major in Psychology, or to complete an accredited course (see below), approximately 125 of 300 points, or a little over 40 per cent of the course, must be taken in Psychology. Most departments offer additional courses, although it would be unusual for a student to take more than 175 points in Psychology. In the fourth or honours year, all 100 points are taken in Psychology, with approximately half being research work and half course work. Thus, at an undergraduate level, Psychology is much like other social science disciplines.

There is a heavy emphasis in the undergraduate curriculum on research and quantitative methods. The broad basic content areas covered include biological, social, developmental and cognitive aspects of behaviour (see Healy and Franklin 1998 for full list of recommended topics). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Psychology: Status, Issues and Controversies


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.