Psychology - Inherent Requirements

The inherent requirements for Masters of Psychology degrees at the University of Adelaide identify core abilities and competencies needed to become a Registered Psychologist.

Psychology, in all areas of practice endorsement offered at the University of Adelaide (Health, Clinical, and Organisational and Human Factors), is a complex and demanding profession. It requires appropriate behavioural, cognitive, and emotional skills to ensure the delivery of safe and effective care and/or professional services.

The Inherent Requirements for Master of Psychology programs outline abilities and capacities which are needed for Master of Psychology students to be able to complete their course of study, which includes coursework and substantial practicum experience.  At the completion of the program, Master of Psychology students are judged to be able to practise as an independent, registered psychologist. Although students gain necessary knowledge and skills for psychological practice during their course of study, the skills and knowledge gained during the degree build on and develop the skills and capacities which are identified as Inherent Requirements.

The development of Inherent Requirements for Master of Psychology students is consistent with the principle of inherent requirements for other externally accredited and AHPRA-registered health professions programs. The Inherent Requirements for Master of Psychology students in the attached document are consistent with those of equivalent nationally accredited Master of Psychology programs.

Inherent requirements must be met by all students. They are the abilities, knowledge and skills needed to complete the degree. Students with a disability or chronic health condition with demonstrated needs may have adjustments made to enable them to meet these requirements. There may also be other considerations, such as cultural or religious considerations, that may impact on the capacity to meet an inherent requirement; with a demonstrated need students may have adjustments made.  While, with a demonstrated need, reasonable adjustments can be made according to a student’s situation, these adjustments cannot compromise academic and professional practice integrity. The School is committed to making reasonable adjustments to teaching and learning assessment and other activities for students with demonstrated needs so that they can successfully participate in their degree.

It is the student's responsibility to check all the requirements of courses, including practicum placements, and consider the effects of any medical condition or disability on their ability to complete the degree requirements.

There are eight categories of inherent requirements in the Master of Psychology degree.

  • 1. Ethical behaviour

    Psychology is a profession governed by the codes, guidelines and policies of the Psychology Board of Australia where psychologists are both accountable and responsible for ensuring professional behaviour in all contexts.

    In order to meet this requirement, students must endorse the Master of Psychology Code of Conduct and demonstrate knowledge of, and engage in, ethical behaviour in practice.

    Students demonstrate:

  • 2. Behavioural stability

    Behavioural stability is required to function and adapt effectively and sensitively in a demanding role.

    In order to meet this requirement, students must demonstrate the ability to work constructively with clients, colleagues, managers, and supervisors, in diverse and changing academic and practice environments, which may at times be challenging and unpredictable.

    During your studies (and professional careers) you will be exposed to a range of unexpected and emergency situations. Responding appropriately to these situations, and providing safe and effective care, will require personal resilience and a consistent, sustained level of physical and mental performance.

    As a student, you will need to demonstrate the:

    • ability to be receptive, and respond appropriately, to constructive feedback from clients, managers, and supervisors
    • ability to effectively cope with your emotions and behaviour when dealing with individuals in the clinical setting
    • capacity for self-awareness to monitor your own health and wellbeing, and the ability to seek appropriate assistance as required.
  • 3. Legal and regulatory requirements

  • 4. Communication

    Effective and efficient verbal communication, in English, is an essential requirement to provide safe delivery of psychological care. Effective non-verbal communication is fundamental to psychological practice and needs to be respectful, clear, attentive, empathic, honest and non-judgemental. Effective written communication is a fundamental professional psychology responsibility, which has professional and legal ramifications.

    Students must demonstrate an ability to communicate and work constructively, in both academic and clinical settings, as part of a group as well as in one-on-one scenarios with other people, including other students, University staff, supervising practitioners, clients and other community members.

    As a student, you will need to demonstrate:

    • the ability to understand and respond to verbal communication accurately, appropriately and in a timely manner;
    • the ability to provide clear instructions relevant to the context of the situation;
    • timely and clear feedback and reporting;
    • the capacity to recognise, interpret, and respond appropriately to behavioural cues;
    • consistent and appropriate awareness of one’s own behaviours;
    • sensitivity to individual and cultural differences in verbal and non-verbal communication;
    • the capacity to construct coherent written communication, appropriate to the circumstances and intended audience.
  • 5. Cognition

    Consistent and effective knowledge and cognitive skills must be demonstrated in order to undertake safe and competent psychology practice.

    Competent literacy skills are essential to permit safe and effective practice of psychology during placements.

    Competent and accurate numeracy skills are essential to provide safe and effective demonstration of psychology practice skills.

    As a student, you will need to demonstrate:

    • the capacity to locate appropriate and relevant information;
    • the ability to process relevant information;
    • the ability to integrate and implement knowledge in practice;
    • the ability to accurately acquire information and to convey appropriate, effective messages;
    • the ability to read and to comprehend a range of literature and information;
    • the capacity to understand and implement academic conventions in order to construct written text in a scholarly manner;

    the ability to interpret and correctly apply numerical data, measurement and numerical criteria in the execution of psychology practice.

  • 6. Relational skills

    Psychological practice requires the ability to make and maintain strong relationships with a wide range of clients, often under stressful circumstances.

    As a student, you will need to demonstrate:

    • the ability to make and maintain rapport with clients;
    • the ability to engage in effective counselling skills;
    • accurate empathy;
    • strong communication skills.
  • 7. Reflective skills

    Psychological practice requires self-awareness and a capacity for reflection in order to consider the effect of one's own issues, actions, values and behaviours on practice.

    As a student, you will need to demonstrate:

    • the ability to accurately reflect on their professional performance;
    • the ability to accept feedback on their professional practice and to respond constructively to feedback received.
  • 8. Sustainable performance

    Psychological practice requires both physical and mental performance at a consistent and sustained level over time.

    As a student, you will need to demonstrate:

    • consistent and sustained physical energy to complete a specific task in a timely manner, and over time;
    • the ability to perform repetitive activities with a level of concentration that ensures a capacity to focus on the activity until it is completed appropriately;
    • the capacity to maintain consistency and quality of performance throughout the designated period of duty.

Can we make exceptions?

The University of Adelaide strongly supports the right of all people who wish to pursue studies in the Master of Psychology programs in the School of Psychology to achieve their potential and chosen career objectives. The school is committed to making reasonable adjustments to teaching and learning, assessment and other activities to address the impact of students' disabilities so that they can successfully participate in their degree.

Students with disabilities for whom reasonable adjustments are required for them to undertake their program, should contact Disability Support before the commencement of the first semester. Some adjustments need up to 4-8 weeks lead time to organise, so it is imperative that early contact is made. In some instances, more advance notice is needed, such as for practicum placements. 

If you are intending to enrol in the Master of Psychology Program, you should review these inherent requirement statements and consider whether you may experience challenges in meeting these requirements. If you think you may experience challenges related to your disability, chronic health condition or any other reason, you should discuss your concerns with the University’s Disability Support service to ensure a managed approach, in conjunction with the School of Psychology.

The University of Adelaide Inherent Requirements have been adapted from the UNSW Inherent Requirement Statements for the Master of Psychology programs, from University of Western Sydney Inherent Requirements for Master of Psychology (Clinical Psychology) which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International licence, and additionally from The University of Adelaide School of Nursing Inherent Requirements.