Special Topics in Psychiatry

Subject PSYT90094 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 18.75
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

August, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 10-Aug-2015 to 09-Nov-2015
Assessment Period End 09-Nov-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 28-Aug-2015
Census Date 28-Aug-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 09-Oct-2015

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 42
Total Time Commitment:

Estimated Total Time Commitment: 200 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

It is recommended that students take this subject as their final unit in the Master of Psychiatry (342AA), having already undertaken 131.25 Credit Points.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability


Assoc Prof Michael Salzberg


Administrative Contact

Ms Victoria Kingsley


Subject Overview:

This is one of two capstone subject options, taught in the final semester of the Master of Psychiatry (342AA) course. As such, it aims to help students integrate the diverse knowledge and skills acquired in the previous five semesters to prepare them for their transition to professional practice.

Psychiatrists have diverse professional roles apart from their core clinical role. They require up-to-date knowledge and skills in, amongst other areas:

-the evaluation and conduct of research

-mental health services policy, economics and service provision

-administration and team and service leadership

-teaching of medical students, psychiatry trainees and students of other disciplines, including the skills of supervision and mentorship

-psychiatric ethics

-the medicolegal dimensions of psychiatry, including mental health legislation

-community engagement, e.g., advocacy for mental health care; involvement in public education and debate about mental health issues; the mental health needs of diverse social and cultural groups; the public communication of psychiatric knowledge

-working constructively with other disciplines engaged in mental health care

-promotion of the health and well-being of themselves, their colleagues and co-workers

This subject aims to address these needs by building on and revisiting the material of the previous five semesters (and on the students’ developing clinical experience); and by using diverse teaching methods to promote integration of this knowledge, a more sophisticated understanding and greater competence.

The teaching period itself consists of 12-half day attendances, each half day consisting of two sessions. The 24 sessions will address the diverse topics listed above, will do so in a variety of ways and will involve invited experts relevant to each topic. For some sessions, small groups of students will be assigned to prepare and contribute, every student having one opportunity to do so during the semester.

A variety of formats are used, including: debates; expert panels; mock trials; updates of several fields and subspecialties by relevant experts; presentations by leading researchers about their own research career in psychiatry, but also discussing how to get published and how to advance one’s own career; registrars presenting their own experience of research. History, social sciences, literature and film will be employed selectively to help develop perspectives on the achievements as well as the errors and abuses of psychiatry, and the challenges and opportunities facing the profession.

Psychiatric research will be addressed in several ways. For some students, the Master of Psychiatry (342AA) is a prelude to a research higher degree and this subject will facilitate their transition. For all students, staying abreast of research is fundamental to good professional practice, and this subject will address the critical evaluation of research, literature searches and topic reviews.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this unit students will:

1. Understand more fully the diverse roles of the psychiatrist

2. Know the range of skills needed to competently fulfil these roles.

3. Know how they can further develop those competencies in their forthcoming professional lives. Students will have greater clarity about what profile – or mix - of particular roles they wish to emphasise in their own early career (eg, clinician vs researcher vs administrator), and will have gained useful knowledge of ways to acquire skills relevant to those roles (e.g., relevant people who can guide them, courses, training opportunities etc.)

These objectives and the course content directly address all five course level outcomes:

  1. They will encourage students to become critical thinkers and pursue lifelong learning and self-directed professional development.
  2. They will provide education about the specific attitudes, knowledge and skills needed to effectively work in the area of mental health.
  3. They promote research and critical evaluation in clinical practice.
  4. They will provide students with a broad understanding of the cultural differences that exist in our community and their relationship to its individuals and mental illness

They will facilitate the professional development of students by providing opportunities to engage in critical discussion of the scientific literature or clinical psychiatry with their colleagues and with lecturers who are experts in the field.

  • Oral presentation as part of a series of related presentations and discussion that totals 25 minutes, during semester [50%]
  • Written Assessment 2500 words, end of semester [50%]
  • Fieldword (approximately 5 hours in total) - either 5 x workplace based assessments (WBAs) by workplace supervisors OR 5 x Workplace Practical Activity Log Sheets (WPLAs) to be taken home and then checked by the subject coordinator after submission [Hurdle requirement]
  • 75% attendance at sessions [Hurdle requirement]

Prescribed Texts:

Tom Burns ‘Our Necessary Shadow: The Nature And Meaning Of Psychiatry’ Allen Lane 2013

AIHW 2013. Mental health services in brief 2013. Cat. no. HSE 141. Canberra: AIHW.

Kate Richards ‘Madness: a memoir’ Penguin 2013

Nikolas Rose, Joelle M. Abi-Rached (2013) ‘Neuro: The New Brain Sciences and the Management of the Mind.’ Princeton University Press

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of this unit students will have the knowledge and skill to:

1. Describe and discuss the diverse roles of the psychiatrist

2. Discuss the role of the profession within the arena of mental health care (and health care more generally), including having core knowledge of the history of the profession , of its interrelationships with other professions, disciplines and organisations and of challenges and opportunities facing the profession at present and in the near future

3. Further develop the competencies required for professional practice once they become psychiatrists


This subject is available through the Community Access Program (CAP).

Related Course(s): Master of Psychiatry

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