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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2011 Postgraduate - Course

This course entry should be read in conjunction with information provided in the 'Faculty information' section of this Handbook by the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Managing facultyMedicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
Abbreviated titleDPsych(ClinNeuro)
CRICOS code040812K
Standard duration of study (years)4 years FT, 8 years PT
Study mode and locationOn-campus (Clayton)
Admission, fee and application details
Contact details

School of Psychology and Psychiatry Research Degrees Office: telephone +61 3 9905 1232 or +61 3 9902 4200; email or visit

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Research Degrees Office, telephone +61 3 9905 4313; email or visit

Course coordinator

Professor Jennie Ponsford


  • Applicants must have an approved bachelors degree with Honours I or IIA, or equivalent fourth year in psychology, accredited by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council. In addition to their academic record, students will be selected on the basis of personal psychology, with factors such as referees reports and presentation at a selection interview considered suitability for clinical psychology, with factors such as referees reports and presentation at a selection interview considered.
  • The first two years of study must be undertaken full-time.
  • This course requires attendance at off-campus practical placements which may occur in a range of locations.


The Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Neuropsychology is a research degree offered by the School of Psychology and Psychiatry.

Clinical neuropsychology is a field which applies an understanding of the neural basis of cognition, emotion and behaviour to the assessment and treatment of adults and children with neurological and psychological disorders. Clinical neuropsychologists are employed in acute hospitals, rehabilitation centres, aged care programmes, psychiatric settings, and paediatric facilities. Private practitioners undertake a range of work including medico-legal assessments. The degree prepares graduates, using the scientist-practitioner model, to conduct research in neuropsychology and to work as clinical neuropsychologists in a broad range of settings.

A feature of the course is that its training in clinical neuropsychology is extended through specialisation in a choice of areas. Candidates undertake an advanced specialised placement in their third year, which enables them to gain more specialised knowledge and experience in an area of their choice. Depending upon candidate demand, options may include:

  • rehabilitation, with its focus on assessment and management in a rehabilitation context
  • child and adolescent neuropsychology, with its focus upon assessment and management of children and adolescents with neurological disorders
  • geriatric neuropsychology, with its focus on assessment and management of elderly persons with neurological and psychiatric disorders
  • psychiatric neuropsychology, with its focus on assessment and management of adults with a primary mental illness
  • forensic neuropsychology, with its focus on the assessment of individuals in the legal system.

Candidates conduct a prescribed program of research for a specified period under the direct supervision of a member of the academic staff. The supervisor, in consultation with the candidate, is responsible for developing the research program to be followed by the candidate, and for reporting at regular intervals on the candidate's progress. Candidates submit a thesis in addition to clinical placements and a prescribed coursework component. The work undertaken as part of this degree must constitute a significant contribution to the knowledge and understanding of the field of clinical neuropsychology, and must demonstrate the capacity of the candidate to carry out independent research. This course may be undertaken in any of the areas of research offered by the faculty. For information about research in the faculty visit


Candidates who have completed the course will demonstrate a thorough understanding of relevant research techniques in their field through a review of the relevant literature. They will demonstrate their ability, under supervision, to apply relevant research techniques to their chosen field of study. Candidates will be able to present high-quality written work suitable for publication in appropriate scholarly journals, and be able to critically evaluate both their own and others' written work in their chosen field.

Candidates will also be able to:

  • identify and define research questions
  • identify the appropriate research methods to address the research questions
  • demonstrate mastery of their chosen research methodology/methodologies
  • demonstrate theoretical knowledge at doctoral level in their chosen field of research
  • communicate their research findings in a format appropriate to their academic discipline
  • write up their research into a high quality thesis
  • contribute new information or new ways of understanding information in the field of research.

This program also prepares graduates for careers in a broad range of settings by providing advanced training in both research and the skills required for practice in clinical neuropsychology.

Credit for prior studies

Credit will not be given for work completed more than 10 years prior to admission to doctoral candidature, nor for more than 50 per cent of the coursework. Credit will not be given for coursework credited to another degree or diploma. The Faculty Board may give credit for coursework and/or supervised practice already completed and equivalent to particular units and practical work. Appropriate methods for assessment of equivalence of prior study will be applied either through a viva voce, written examination, submission of referees' reports and/or presentation of written work. No credit will be given for elective units. Credit will not be given for previous research. A minimum enrolment period of two years will apply to all later-year applicants.

Research component

70 per cent

Candidature rules

Duration of candidature

The total permissible period of candidature is four years full-time, or its equivalent in part-time candidature up to a maximum of eight years part-time, after which the candidature will lapse. The minimum period of candidature is two years (four years part-time). Candidates are encouraged to complete their theses as quickly as possible.

Probationary candidature

Probationary candidature applies for all doctoral candidates, except where doctoral candidates have transferred from a masters by research program. Candidature will be confirmed subject to the receipt of a satisfactory report of progress at the end of the 18-month probationary period (full-time) .

Progress reviews

Supervisors and academic units monitor the progress of candidates throughout their candidature. All candidates are required to complete an annual questionnaire in order to review the conditions of their candidature. The academic progress of candidates is formally reviewed via three candidature milestones: confirmation of candidature; mid-candidature review; and pre-submission seminar.

The mid-candidature review and pre-submission seminar are mandatory requirements for all candidates who commenced their candidature from 1 January 2010.

Candidates should note that satisfactory performance in all three components of the DPsych is necessary throughout the course, and that progression is contingent on satisfactory completion of previous requirements. In addition, an assessment of personal suitability to undertake or continue work as a trainee clinical neuropsychologist is made prior to each placement.

Time available for study

Throughout their candidature, all candidates must regularly attend their department, school, centre or faculty and participate fully in the intellectual, research and academic life of their academic unit. The first two years of the program must be undertaken on a full-time basis, Full-time candidates must be able to devote the equivalent of a minimum of four days a week to the pursuit of their research project; all part-time candidates must devote the equivalent of one-and-a-half days a week to their studies. The half-day should normally be a week day.

Employment restrictions

Full-time candidates are permitted, with the approval of their main supervisor, to undertake a strictly limited amount of paid employment throughout the year, being no more than 15 hours of work per week on average. Up to a maximum of six hours only on average of this employment may be undertaken during normal working hours (9 am to 5 pm, Mondays to Fridays). However, this may be extended to a maximum of eight hours if the employment is limited to one weekday. The candidate's supervisor(s) must be satisfied that any part-time work undertaken does not interfere with the candidate's study program and progress. International candidates need to be aware that the employment restrictions outlined above apply even though a student visa permits candidates to work up to 20 hours a week.

Professional recognition

The program has been accredited by Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) for the purposes of registration as a psychologist in Australia and membership of the Australian Psychological Society (APS). In addition, it has been approved by the APS College of Clinical Neuropsychologists as meeting their requirements for full membership.

Candidates may apply for full registration as a psychologist in Australia upon successful completion of the degree. They may also gain an area of practice endorsement as a Clinical Neuropsychologist with an additional one year of full-time equivalent psychological practice following completion of the degree, including 40 hours of Board-approved supervision and 40 hours of professional development activities. Further information may be found on the Psychology Board of Australia's website at


This course comprises a number of coursework units (20 per cent), practicum placements (10 per cent) and research culminating in a major thesis (70 per cent). Assessment is by thesis, written examinations, oral presentations and practical reports.

The first two years must be undertaken full-time. From third year, students may elect to complete their studies on either a full-time or part-time basis.



Candidates submit a thesis of approximately 60,000 to 70,000 words. The word length for a thesis does not include footnotes, references or appendices, nor does it include equations, tables, diagrams or other illustrations. The thesis may be in the form of a traditional monograph or as a thesis by publication.

The work presented for examination must be the original work of the candidate, except where due reference is made in the text. A candidate may include published work which is directly relevant to the argument of the thesis, provided such work has been written during the period of candidature. Candidates may not present in, or in support of, a thesis any work which the candidate has presented for any other degree or diploma at this University, or any other institution, except with the permission of the Research Graduate School Committee.

While the precise schedule may vary according to the nature of the research, in general candidates will be expected to adhere to the following schedule:

  • brief description of the research proposal and supervisory arrangements to be in place prior to admission to the program in February
  • outline of preliminary research proposal to be submitted by the end of year one, semester one
  • first draft of preliminary literature review to be submitted at the start of year one, semester two
  • oral presentation of proposed project outline, and final literature review, to be completed by the end of year one, semester two
  • final proposal to be accepted and ethics committee approval gained by the beginning of year two, semester one
  • data collection to be completed by the beginning of year three, semester two
  • analyses to be completed by the end of year three, semester two
  • thesis to be completed by the end of year four, semester one.


Coursework is conducted over two 13 week semesters in each of the first two years of the course. Coursework objectives will be assessed through seminar presentations, case presentations, written assignments and examinations. The Monash University system of grades is used for most units, with participation in seminars and practical sessions taken into consideration in the assessment process.

In addition to the core coursework units, candidates will be expected, from time to time, to attend workshops and relevant special seminars.

The DPsych program is based on a 52-week year with 4 weeks of annual leave. The first year of the program usually commences in the first week of February. While much of the teaching will take place at Monash University's Clayton campus and at Monash Medical Centre in Clayton, candidates should be prepared for some travel to other teaching venues.

First year

Semester one
  • DPSY5102 Psychological assessment 1
  • DPSY5103 Research methods in professional psychology
  • DPSY5161 Fundamentals of professional practice in neuropsychology
  • DPSY5162 Neuroanatomy for the clinical neuropsychologist
Semester two
  • DPSY5261 Neuropsychological models of cognition and behaviour 1
  • DPSY5262 Case analysis and professional practice in neuropsychology 1
  • DPSY5263 Neuropsychological assessment
  • DPSY5265 Neuropsychological syndromes

Second year

Semester one
  • DPSY5101 Psychopathology 1
  • DPSY5203 Theories and techniques of intervention 1
  • DPSY5299 Introductory practicum
  • DPSY6162 Case analysis and professional practice in neuropsychology 2
  • DPSY6261 Developmental neuropsychology
Semester two
  • DPSY6105 Psychopharmacology
  • DPSY6199 Intermediate practicum
  • DPSY6262 Case analysis and professional practice in neuropsychology 3
  • DPSY6263 Recovery of function and rehabilitation after brain injury

Third year

Semester one
Semester two
  • DPSY7199 Advanced specialised practicum

Practicum placements

Candidates are required to gain extensive supervised assessment, treatment and professional experience with a range of problems across varying age ranges. Thus, placements are available in a variety of settings within the health, rehabilitation, psychiatric and forensic domains. Candidates' responsibilities in their placements increase as they proceed through the training so that by the final advanced specialised practicum, they should be able to independently carry out assessments and generate, institute and evaluate management plans. At the commencement of each placement a contract is developed between the candidate, university and placement supervisor which identifies the tasks to be undertaken by the candidate. At completion of the placement, these form the basis of the assessment reports, with performance assessed as either satisfactory or unsatisfactory. During all placements candidates are required to keep detailed log books of all activities.

A total of 1500 hours (188 days) of placements are required. The first three supervised placements of 42 days each (or equivalent) are completed during the second and third years, These placements usually require the candidate to be on placement two days per week for 21 weeks and to have a minimum of 134 hours of patient contact (approximately six hours per week). The remainder of the time is spent in observation, allied professional activities (e.g., ward rounds, case conferences), supervisory sessions and writing reports and case notes. The advanced specialised placement of 62 days takes place during the latter part of third year. This final placement will require the candidate to be on placement 2 days per week for 31 weeks (or equivalent), during which they will be engaged in a full range of activities relevant to their particular specialisation.

It is anticipated that the placements will be structured as outlined below. Because of the large research requirement, however, this timetable is flexible and may be altered by negotiation with the placement supervisor.

One possible schedule for the four placements is:

  • Year two, mid-January - end of May: Introductory practicum (equivalent to 2 days per week for 21 weeks)
  • Year 2, mid-July - mid-December: Intermediate practicum (equivalent to 2 days per week for 21 weeks)
  • Year 3, mid-January - end of May: Advanced practicum (equivalent to 2 days per week for 21 weeks)
  • Year 3-4, mid-June - mid-April: Advanced specialist practicum (equivalent to 2 days per week for 31 weeks).


Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Neuropsychology