Survey of ethics education in Australian University Schools and Departments of Psychology

Document Type

Journal Article


Australian Psychological Society


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Psychology




Davidson, G., Garton, A. F., & Joyce, M. (2003). Survey of ethics education in Australian university schools and departments of psychology. Australian Psychologist, 38(3), 216-222. Available here


In 2000 the Ethics Committee of the APS conducted a survey of ethics education and training in all Australian University Psychology Academic Organisational Units (AOUs). Content analysis of course syllabi received directly from AOUs and/or obtained from accreditation documentation lodged by them with the APS as part of the 5-year APS course accreditation cycle showed that ethics education appeared in less that one quarter of syllabi for years 1–3 and approximately 90% of syllabi for years 4 and 5–7, with a clear emphasis on the integrative approach in years 1–3 and roughly equal emphasis on integration within or separation from the core curriculum in years 4 and 5–7, and with roughly equal emphasis on philosophical and code-based instruction in years 1–3, but mainly the latter instruction in years 4 and 5–7. Research ethics constituted the predominant theme in years 1–3; a comprehensive listing of professional topics was covered in years 4 and 5–7, with few thematic differences between these year levels. Less than half of the syllabi for AOUs teaching ethics in years 1–3 contained evidence that ethical knowledge was assessed, while this figure increased to 78% and 68% of year 4 and 5–7 syllabi respectively. Commonly used texts were tabulated. The results are discussed in relation to published findings on the efficacy of different approaches to teaching ethics in psychology education, and recommendations are made for the revision of ethics education in Australian Psychology AOUs.





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