This unit of study will introduce the field of clinical health psychology together with theoretical frameworks linking psychological and physical aspects of health and illness and key concepts relevant to health and medical psychology.  Learning will focus on the application of clinical psychology principles and techniques to the promotion and maintenance of health and the prevention and treatment of illness.  Psychological assessment within health settings and adherence to treatment and preparation for medical procedures will be covered.  Applications of clinical psychology will be considered across a range of health settings (including primary health and hospital in-patient/outpatient services), various medical conditions (including chronic, acute and psychosomatic), at all life stages (e.g. paediatric, adolescent, adult and aged).  The role of clinical psychologists in developing behaviour change programs for various levels of prevention will be discussed.

Unit details

Study level:
Credit points:
Unit code:

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Explicate an understanding of theoretical frameworks and models relevant to clinical health psychology;  
  2. Implement core clinical psychology skills and specialised assessment for medical problems in various patient groups;  
  3. Exhibit an understanding of the principles of behaviour change in the health context;  
  4. Contextualize an understanding of the psychological impact of illness and the effect of psychological factors on the course of illness; and  
  5. Explicate an understanding of the contribution of clinical psychology to health maintenance and illness prevention.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Assignment Interview and minor report (indicative: 1000 words) 30%
Essay Essay (indicative: 2500 words) 70%

Where to next?

As part of a course

This unit is studied as part of the following courses. Refer to the course page for information on how to apply for the course.

Study a single unit

This unit can be studied on its own, without enrolling in a full degree. Learn more about single units of study at VU.

VU takes care to ensure the accuracy of this unit information, but reserves the right to change or withdraw courses offered at any time. Please check that unit information is current with the Student Contact Centre.