ASC5001 - Addiction science: A biopsychosocial overview - 2018

12 points, SCA Band 2, 0.250 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.


Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Organisational Unit

Eastern Health Clinical School

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Victoria Manning


Ms Phoebe Spry-Bailey

Unit guides



  • First semester 2018 (Online)


This unit provides an introduction and overview to addiction as a concept. In particular, consideration is given to the biological, psychological, developmental, sociocultural and environmental factors that may contribute to the development of addiction.

The various effects of psychoactive substances (including alcohol and illicit drugs) will be considered in relation to the "drug, set and setting" model.

The unit will also introduce Australia's harm minimisation approach in responding to psychoactive substance use and addictive behaviours. Students completing the module should be able to summarise the key theoretical models of addiction, issues around the utilisation of the term and have developed the necessary critical conceptualisations of addiction theory to undertake further Masters level study in this area.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. Critique the premises and foundations for the biopsychosocial model of addiction in relation to other models of addiction
  2. Consider and critique the role of various factors in the aetiology of addiction with reference to the research evidence base.
  3. Analyse the neurobiological and genetic bases of addictive behaviours.
  4. Critically evaluate the psychological and sociocultural bases of addictive behaviours.
  5. Demonstrate the use of the 'drug, set and setting' model in understanding substance effects on the individual.
  6. Synthesise the implications of the harm minimisation approach for understanding interventions.
  7. Present an argument based on theoretical and empirical literature regarding whether process addictions such as gambling should be grouped with substance addictions.
  8. Evaluate the role of research evidence and the various models of addiction in the development of policies relevant to alcohol/illicit drug use and addictive behaviours.


Students undertaking fieldwork activity for this unit will be informed of the need to obtain written permission from organisations/individuals they work with and any related issues of confidentiality and anonymity.


  • Participation in online discussion (Hurdle)
  • Poster (500-1,000 words) (30%)
  • Review of evidence (3,500 words) (30%)
  • Essay (5,000 words) (40%) (Hurdle) (You must reach a minimum pass of 45% in this assessment to pass the unit)

Workload requirements

Students enrolling in ASC5001 will be expected to contact the course coordinator regularly throughout the semester and participate in online discussion with fellow students and academic staff. Students should expect to spend around 24 hours a week of self-directed learning. This includes accessing online lectures, podcasts and resources as well as participating in forum discussions questions and quizzes via Moodle in addition to conducting offline independent study such as reading, research and writing activities.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study