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VCE Science

Psychology Unit 4 - How is Wellbeing Developed and Maintained?


Psychology Unit 3.

Course Description

In this unit students examine the nature of consciousness and how changes in levels of consciousness can affect mental processes and behaviour. They consider the role of sleep and the impact that sleep disturbances may have on a person’s functioning. Students explore the concept of a mental health continuum and apply a biopsychosocial approach, as a scientific model, to analyse mental health and disorder. They use specific phobia to illustrate how the development and management of a mental disorder can be considered as an interaction between biological, psychological and social factors. Students examine the contribution that classical and contemporary research has made to the understanding of consciousness, including sleep, and the development of an individual’s mental functioning and wellbeing.

Areas of Study

How do levels of consciousness affect mental processes and behaviour?

Differences in levels of awareness of sensations, thoughts and surroundings influence individuals’ interactions with their environment and with other people. In this area of study students focus on states of consciousness and the relationship between consciousness and thoughts, feelings and behaviours. They explore the different ways in which consciousness can be studied from physiological and psychological perspectives and how states of consciousness can be altered. Students consider the nature and importance of sleep and apply biological, psychological and social factors to analyse the effects of sleep disturbances on psychological functioning, including mood, cognition and behaviour.

What influences mental wellbeing?

In this area of study, students examine what it means to be mentally healthy. They explore the concept of a mental health continuum and factors that explain how location on the continuum for an individual may vary over time. Students apply a biopsychosocial approach to analyse mental health and mental disorder, and evaluate the roles of predisposing, precipitating, perpetuating and protective factors in contributing to a person’s mental state. Specific phobia is used to illustrate how a biopsychosocial approach can be used to explain how biological, psychological and social factors are involved in the development and management of a mental disorder. Students explore the concepts of resilience and coping and investigate the psychological basis of strategies that contribute to mental wellbeing.


Unit 4 Outcomes Assessment Tasks Marks Allocated
(school-assessed coursework)
Explain consciousness as a continuum, compare theories about the purpose and nature of sleep, and elaborate on the effects of sleep disruption on a person’s functioning.

Analysis and evaluation of stimulus material using at least one task selected from:

  • Annotations of at least two practical activities from a practical work folio.
  • Comparison of different states of consciousness.
  • A report of a student investigation.
  • Analysis of data including generalisations and conclusions.
  • Media analysis/response.
  • A response to a set of structured questions.
  • A reflective learning journal/blog related to selected activities or in response to an issue.
  • A test.
Explain the concepts of mental health and mental illness including influences of risk and protective factors, apply a biopsychosocial approach to explain the development and management of specific phobia, and explain the psychological basis of strategies that contribute to mental wellbeing. Application of a biopsychosocial approach using at least one task (which is different from the type of task/s for Outcome 1) selected from the above tasks. 30
Design and undertake a practical investigation related to mental processes and psychological functioning, and present methodologies, findings and conclusions in a scientific poster.
A structured scientific poster according to the VCAA template.
Total Marks 90

Overall Final Assessment

Graded Assessment Title Assessment Exam Duration Contribution to Study Score (%)
1 Unit 3 Coursework School-assessed   16
2 Unit 4 Coursework School-assessed   24
3 Written Examination November 2.5 hours 60


Reproduced by permission of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, Victoria, Australia: