PIT5001 - Foundations of psychiatry 1 - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 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

School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Fiona Best


Dr Fiona Best

Unit guides




Must be enrolled in M6022 Master of Psychiatry stream


This unit will cover essentials needed to conduct a comprehensive psychiatric interview and is recognised by The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) as an accredited formal education course which is a core component of RANZCP accredited psychiatry training.

This unit teaches patient interviewing and assessment techniques, assessment and management of psychiatric emergencies, diagnosis and classification of psychiatric disorders, basic sciences, basic ethics, professionalism, mental health and related legislation and forms part of the first year of RANZCP psychiatry training.

The foundation skills to conduct competent psychiatric interviews are taught in this unit and are designed to underpin a trainee's progress towards becoming a specialist psychiatrist in any modality.

The Foundation Units have the capacity to provide a sound academic platform for the psychiatrist trainee's clinical training. By the end of semester one, trainees will have to have an in-depth knowledge in how to interview and assess patients with psychotic and mood disorders as well as an understanding of personality disorders, psychiatric emergencies, ethics, professionalism, diagnosis and classification and mental health legislation and other relevant legislation.


Successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Analyse and evaluate historical aspects of psychiatry in the context of current day practice.
  2. Apply essential clinical practice skills of mental state examination and the psychiatric interview to a standard required for psychiatrists in training in mental health settings.
  3. Apply knowledge of the psychiatric interview, history taking and collateral history, phenomenology, mental state examination and use of structured instruments (e.g. MADRS, HONOS) and psychiatric risk assessment to the clinical setting.
  4. Use an evidence-based framework of psychodynamic concepts to conduct psychiatric interviews to probe and access underlying needs or issues.
  5. Critically analyse ethical principles and professionalism in psychiatry during psychiatric interviews with reference to the evidence baes, mental health law and legislations, peer review and supervision and personal reflection.
  6. Apply knowledge in basic neurosciences in psychiatry (neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neurochemistry, genetics and inheritance) to understand psychiatric disorders in clinical practice.


  • 4 x Online commentaries (500 words each) (30%)(Hurdle)
  • Applied learning exercise (2,000 words) (30%)
  • Written essay (2,000 words) (30%)
  • Presentation at Weekend Workshop (10%) (Hurdle)

Workload requirements

12 hours per week - online teacher directed (6) and self-directed (6h)

This is an online unit; with one weekend of interactive workshops on-campus per semester.

Detail: Students will be expected to log on each week to complete at least 12 hours of work consisting of online and self-directed work. Content will include use of a workbook, discussion room exercises, set readings, case based discussions, webinars and power-point lectures with voiceover. Students will be expected to undertake additional readings and dedicate time to the assessment tasks assigned to this unit. One weekend interactive workshop experience (students will spend 9.00am-5.00pm on campus as part of the weekend) to demonstrate the application of theory into practice.

See also Unit timetable information

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