University of Technology Sydney

96049 Assessment Across the Lifespan

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2023 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Health (GEM)
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject covers the principles and practice of psychological assessment skills across the lifespan: children, adults and older adults. Trainees are introduced to the scientific hypothesis testing approach to evaluating all aspects of cognitive, behavioural, personality and emotional functioning. They gain practical assessment skills in the administration, scoring and interpretation of the widely used Wechsler scales and other cognitive tests. The clinical application of assessment skills in understanding disorders giving rise to cognitive deficit is a major theme of the subject.

Successful completion of this subject is required for progression in the Master of Clinical Psychology (C04300).

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

008. Evaluate the reliability and validity of assessment
015. Apply research in a given clinical context
016. Integrate diagnostic information with formulation in treatment planning
020. Develop a formulation from a range of clinical perspectives
022. Determine the appropriateness of providing a diagnosis
023. Apply multiple methods for assessing the severity and types of mental health conditions
024. Identify comorbidity
025. Determine differential diagnoses where appropriate
026. Apply diagnostic systems (e.g., DSM, ICD) in a given clinical context
027. Identify whether a case lies within the practitioner's professional competence
028. Identify appropriate referral services for the client's needs
029. Follow a structured process to arrive at the most accurate diagnosis
054. Explain one's own role, within the context of the service
057. Use written and spoken communication in a manner appropriate to the target audience
058. Produce accurate, succinct, and well-organised communications
070. Interpret initial client information
071. On the basis of available information, establish initial assessment requirements
072. Select appropriate assessment measures and methods for a given case
073. Provide a rationale for the method(s) of assessment utilised
074. Ensure that assessment includes memory, intelligence, personality, behavioural functioning and mental state
075. Conduct appropriate tests, interviews or other assessments
076. Interpret assessment results
077. Communicate results of assessment in an appropriate format to relevant individuals
078. Respond appropriately to any risk arising from assessment
084. Utilise best available methodologies and resources in clinical practice
085. Maintain records and carry out administrative tasks to the required standard
086. Adhere to the guidelines and policies of relevant professional bodies

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

The learning outcomes for this subject are as follows:

  • Apply in practice accurate and comprehensive knowledge of the current state of psychological theories and models, the application, implementation and interpretation of psychological investigations, and the implementation of psychological interventions. (.001)
  • Provide ethically and legally accountable client-centred care, with awareness of own capabilities and limitations. (.002)
  • Assess and report on individual and population psychological health status, using appropriate testing and/or observation methodologies. (.003)
  • Design and evaluate psychological interventions to optimise client or organisational health. (.004)
  • Evaluate evidence and engage in systematic inquiry. (.005)
  • Communicate effectively and accurately with clients and stakeholders in written or spoken language appropriate to their needs. (.006)
  • Represent the psychologist's perspective in multidisciplinary environments, and through self-awareness and acknowledgement of the contribution of other health practitioners, support an interdisciplinary approach to attain the best outcomes for clients. (.010)
  • Demonstrate knowledge of psychological practice in national and global communities, with awareness of their social and cultural contexts, using a consultative approach to the formulation and implementation of management plans to meet diverse needs. (.011)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

This Subject allows trainees to obtain a holistic approach to understanding and supporting client concerns about cognitive and psychological functioning. It provides opportunities to learn cognitive assessment skills including how to administer the WISC, WAIS and other cognitive tests. Trainees will participate in case discussions and case presentations in order to learn how to apply cognitive assessment principles. Assessment skills are discussed in the context of a wide range of clinical disorders in which cognition is affected.

This subject contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

Lifelong learning

Graduates of the Master of Clinical Psychology are lifelong learners, committed to and capable of reflection and inquiry in their quest for personal development and excellence in professional practice.

Professional capacity

Graduates of the Master of Clinical Psychology are client-focused, ethical practitioners with the understanding and proficiency to be leaders in their profession, capable of effectively researching and communicating solutions in a global context.

Global citizenship

Graduates of the Master of Clinical Psychology contribute to society, resolving to undertake those actions and responsibilities that will enhance their role in local, national and global communities.

Cultural competence

Graduates of the Master of Clinical Psychology are culturally competent professionals, able to reflect on and explain their own cultural perspectives, accommodate cultural differences and achieve optimal outcomes through the adoption of a consultative approach to patient care with indigenous Australians and other cultural groups.

Teaching and learning strategies

The course involves a range of teaching methods within a lecture, workshop, clinical practice oriented learning activities and independent learning format.

Preparation for Learning: Students will be provided with the details of preparation activities each week through the subject’s Canvas site. Activities are designed to help students prepare for their learning in lectures and workshops by engaging them with textbook, journals, other readings, videos and online resources.

Active Lectures: During classes, the teaching staff will present theoretical information and demonstrate practical assessment skills. Students will have the opportunity to practice these skills in pairs. During classes, students will have the opportunity to discuss the associated readings, as well as any issues or questions arising from the information delivered during the lectures.

Research-integrated Learning: Specifically, students will take an evidence-based approach to cognitive assessments of cases as this is essential for effective clinical psychological practice and an important skill for Psychology students to develop. Current research will be integrated into the content provided in both lectures and preparatory readings. Students are provided opportunities in workshop classes and through assessments to read, discuss and utilise current research in the context of evidence-based best clinical practice.

Case Based and Collaborative Learning: Students will learn how to apply cognitive assessment principles to client case studies by participating in class discussions and learning activities. This will help them understand how to apply the scientific hypothesis testing approach when performing cognitive assessments.

Collaborative Learning: Specifically, students will develop their teamwork skills by participating in active lectures and workshops, collaborative small group discussions in breakout sessions, and cognitive assessment practice sessions in pairs and small groups. A collaborative approach to case formulation, case management and effective communication of cognitive assessment results is an essential skill to ensure clients are managed appropriately within interdisciplinary teams of health professionals

Practice Based Authentic and Simulated Clinical Experiences: Students will be able to observe peers and clinicians practice and demonstrate cognitive assessment skills during role play in workshops and video recordings. They will also be able to practice their own cognitive testing skills in role play with peers and view video recordings of themselves. These strategies will help trainees learn essential clinical, diagnostic, theoretical and research based skills needed to perform cognitive assessments when they progress to clinical practice in the Psychology Clinic.

Reflective Learning: Students are encouraged to critically reflect on their learning throughout the subject to identify areas where they may improve their performance and to assist in the development of lifelong learning skills.

Self-directed Practice: Specifically, practical workshops will provide students with supervised practice of cognitive assessment skills. However, to attain a sufficient level of competency in cognitive assessment skills it is essential that students engage in regular self-directed practice both independently and with peers outside of class time. This is important preparation for the OSCE exams and clinical placement.

Ongoing Feedback: In-class verbal feedback is an important teaching and learning strategy employed throughout the subject. Specifically, students are provided with immediate feedback to their questions relating to the content of lectures, discussion of case studies and performance of cognitive assessment skills in practical classes supported by lecturers. This will help students develop knowledge and skills relating to their clinical reasoning, understanding of key concepts and cognitive assessment skills. There will be opportunities for verbal formative feedback on student’s questions about assessment tasks and cognitive assessment skills via online group chats and also detailed written formative feedback following submission.

OPELA (online language screening task): An aim of this subject is to help you develop academic and professional language and communication skills in order to succeed at university and in the workplace. To determine your current academic language proficiency, you are required to complete an online language screening task, OPELA (information available at If you receive a Basic grade for OPELA, you must attend additional Language Development Tutorials (each week from week [3/4] to week [11/12] in order to pass the subject. These tutorials are designed to support you to develop your language and communication skills. Students who do not complete the OPELA and/or do not attend 80% of the Language Development Tutorials will receive a Fail X grade.

Content (topics)

  • Introduction to cognitive assessment, including basic functional neuroanatomy and models of cognitive functioning
  • Assessment of intelligence in children and adults
  • Assessment of other cognitive skills, including academic achievement, learning and memory, executive functions, everyday functioning and personality
  • Administration, scoring and interpretation of commonly used cognitive assessment measures
  • Conducting cognitive assessments and report writing
  • Ethical considerations for cognitive assessments
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders, including ADHD, specific learning disorder and intellectual disability
  • Neurocognitive disorders, including stroke, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, dementia and psychiatric conditions
  • Cognitive profile of psychological conditions, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse


Assessment task 1: Cognitive assessment OSCE exams (must-pass assessment)


The ability to administer, score and interpret the Wechsler Intelligence Scales is a core competency requirement of a clinical psychologist. This assessment task is designed to ensure students are competent in the administration of these assessment tools. This assessment task will also help develop knowledge of cognitive tests and scoring practice, reflective learning and clinical skills, effective oral communication, and ethical clinical practice as a clinical psychologist.


This task is aligned with the following subject learning objectives:

054, 057, 075, 076, 078, 084, 085 and 086

This task is aligned with the following course learning outcomes:

.001, .002, .003, .006 and .011

Type: Demonstration
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 50%

Students will be allocated a one hour time slot to complete their administration.


Assessment criteria can be found in the Assessment section underneath the assessment task in the Canvas subject site.

Assessment task 2: Cognitive assessment report (must-pass assessment)


The aim of this assessment is to provide students with the opportunity to practice essential clinical reasoning and report writing skills needed to produce neurocognitive assessment reports for children and adults. This assessment contributes to the development of critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills, knowledge of cognitive tests and interpretation practice, effective written communication, and ethical clinical practice as a psychologist.


This task is aligned with the following subject learning objectives:

008, 015, 016, 022, 023, 024, 025, 026, 028, 029, 057, 058, 070, 076, 077 and 086

This task is aligned with the following course learning outcomes:

.001, .002, .003, .004, .005, .006, .010 and .011

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 30%

2000 words maximum


Assessment criteria can be found in the Assessment section underneath the assessment task in the Canvas subject site.

Assessment task 3: Case study (must-pass assessment)


This assessment task assesses the student’s ability to incorporate their knowledge of cognitive assessment tools, cognitive domains, neurodevelopmental and neurocognitive conditions, and factors that impact cognition to plan an adequate cognitive assessment. Thorough planning and case formulation are key to conducting a comprehensive but efficient cognitive assessment. In addition, given the client typically only attends one session it is important to consider contributing factors and potential hypotheses prior to the assessment. The aim of this assessment is for students to gain experience with critical analysis and planning in preparation for the cognitive assessment. This will enable students to confidently approach cognitive assessments with the necessary tools and knowledge to efficiently answer the referral question.


This task is aligned with the following subject learning objectives:

008, 015, 016, 020, 023, 024, 025, 027, 029, 057, 070, 071, 072, 073, 074, 078 and 084

This task is aligned with the following course learning outcomes:

.001, .002, .003, .004, .005, .006, .010 and .011

Type: Case study
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%

600 words


Assessment criteria can be found in the Assessment section underneath the assessment task in the Canvas subject site.

Minimum requirements

Students are required to attend a minimum of 100% of classes.

To pass this subject, students must achieve a minimum grade of 50%.

Note: There are must-pass assessment in this subject. Please check assessment descriptions for details.

It is a requirement of this subject that all students complete OPELA. Students who received a Basic grade in the OPELA are required to attend 80% of the Language Development Tutorials in order to pass the subject. Students who do not complete the OPELA and/or do not attend 80% of the Language Development Tutorials will receive a Fail X grade.

Required texts

Coursework Assessments Policy

Coursework Assessments Procedures

Graduate School of Health Policy, Guidelines and Procedures (login required)

Required text for the unit:

Crowe. S.R. (2010). Evidence of Absence: A Guide to Cognitive Assessment in Australia. Australian Academic Press.

Recommended texts

Suhr, J. (2015). Psychological assessment. A problem-solving approach. Guildford Publications.

Lezak, M. D. Howieson, D. B., Bigler, E. D., and Tranel, D. (2012). Neuropsychological assessment (5th ed.). Oxford University Press

Lichtenberger, E. O. and Kaufman, A. S. (2013). Essentials of WAIS-IV assessment (2nd ed.). John Wiley and Sons.

Flanagan, D. P. and Afonso, V. C. (2017). Essentials of WISC-IV assessment (1st ed.). John Wiley and Sons.

Sattler, J. M. (2018). Assessment of children: Cognitive foundations and applications (6th ed.). Jerome Sattler Publishing

Groth-Marnat, G. (2014). Psychological report writing assistant. John Wiley and Sons.