University of Sydney Handbooks - 2018 Archive

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Behavioural Sciences

Behavioural Sciences is the scientific study of human behavior, psychology, and mental processes. It is concerned with the way we behave as individuals as well as in groups; it is concerned with the way we act as well as the way we think; and it is concerned with our interaction with the physical world as well as our interaction with others.

When you study Behavioural Sciences, you will cover a range of areas including behavioural neuroscience, personality theory, social influences on the behaviour of individuals and groups, forensic psychology, health psychology, developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, memory, attention, intelligence, sensory processes and perception, research methods, and theories of learning and motivation.

The School of Psychology is part of the Faculty of Science. Units of study in this major are available at standard level, except for PSYC2010 (available at advanced level in PSYC2910), and PSYC3011 (available at advanced level in PSYC3911), PSYC3013 (available at advanced level in PSYC3913), PSYC3014 (available at advanced level in PSYC3914) and PSYC3016 (available at advanced level in PSYC3916).

About the major

The Behavioural Sciences Major is designed for students who do not necessarily wish to train to become accredited psychologists. Rather, this is designed for students who wish to engage in higher degree research in one or more of the areas of psychological science AND/OR to complement their studies in another major where expertise in one of the research areas of psychological sciences would be beneficial.

Please note: Students who wish to undertake professional training at the postgraduate level to become registered psychologists must complete the full Psychology Program. The Behavioural Sciences major is not a pathway to professional accreditation as a Psychologist.

Requirements for completion

A major in requires 48 credit points, consisting of:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 6 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 12 credit points of 2000-level selective units
(iv) 18 credit points of 3000-level selective units

A minor in Behavioural Sciences is available and articulates to this major.

Pathway through the major

The requirements for a major in Behavioural Sciences are spread out over three years of the degree (possibly four years if students are completing a combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degree).

A sample pathway for the Behavioural Sciences major (over three years of a degree) is listed below.

Sample pathway: Behavioural Sciences major (48 credit points)



Units of study


Semester 1

Core: PSYC1001 Psychology 1001

Semester 2

Core: PSYC1002 Psychology 1002


Semester 1

Core: PSYC2012 Statistics and Research Methods for Psychology

Semester 2

Selective: 2000-level units listed for major


Semester 1

Selective: 3000-level units listed for major

Semester 2

Selective: 3000-level units listed for major

Please Note. This sample progression is meant as an example only. Depending on unit prerequisites, students may be able to complete these units in a different sequence from that displayed in the table above.

For details of the core and selective units of study required for the major or minor please refer to the Behavioural Sciences section of the unit of study table, Table S, in this handbook.

Fourth year

The fourth year is only offered within the combined Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies course.

Advanced coursework
The Bachelor of Advanced Studies advanced coursework option consists of 48 credit points, which must include a minimum of 24 credit points in a single subject area at 4000-level, including a project unit of study worth at least 12 credit points. Space is provided for 12 credit points towards the second major (if not already completed). 24 credit points of advanced study will be included in the table for 2020.

There is no dedicated Honours program for the Behavioural Sciences Major. Students who wish to do the Psychology honours program must complete the full Psychology Program.

Contact and further information


School of Psychology
Griffith Taylor Building (A19)
The University of Sydney NSW 2006

Dr Ian Johnston

T +61 2 9351 4353
Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate from Behavioural Sciences will be able to:

  1. Describe in detail the major theories of the core disciplines in the Psychological Sciences: Learning and Behaviour, Perceptual Systems, Cognitive Psychology, Neuroscience, Developmental Psychology, Social Psychology, Differential Psychology, Applied Psychology (Forensic, Health, Organisational), Clinical Psychology, Research Methods and Statistics, and Theoretical Psychology.
  2. Understand, apply, and evaluate basic research methods in Psychology, including research design, data analysis and interpretation, and the appropriate use of technologies.
  3. Apply these concepts to personal, social, and professional issues.
  4. Design, conduct, and interpret experimental research in psychology
  5. Apply critical and creative thinking, skeptical inquiry, and the scientific approach to solve problems related to Psychology
  6. Value empirical evidence; act ethically and professionally; and understand the complexity of sociocultural and international diversity
  7. Evaluate and communicate the findings of research and literature through scientific research report, essays, orally, and in other media.