Psychological Ethics and Legal Issues


PSYB17 - 129

Type of instruction




Part of degree program


Recommended in

Semester 3

Typically offered in

Autumn semester

Course description

The purpose of the course is to provide a general philosophy and ethical guidance to cover all situations encountered by professional psychologists. The evolution of moral behaviours, history of professional psychologists’ ethical codes, fundamental ethical principles of psychologists, relationship between legal and ethical issues, and evaluative procedures and corrective actions in case of complaints about unethical conduct will be covered by lectures, problems and dilemmas emerging in the practical application of professional ethics will be discussed in seminars.

Learning outcome, competences

  •  has appropriate knowledge in the main fields of psychological ethics
  •  knows the most important expressions and phenomena of psychologica ethics and the fundamental texts and contexts of the European, American and his/her national code of


  •  familiar with the legal regulations of psychological conduct


  •  is capable of cooperation and solving tasks in teams;
  •  is sensitive to and interested in noticing ethical phenomena and problems;
  •  has effective communication and problem solving skills;
  •  his/her behavior in human relationships is ethical and humane;


  •  is able to identify and resolve ethical dilemmas
  •  is able to see causal relationships, can think logically, and can prepare comprehensive reviews;
  •  can perceive human behavior distinctly and can recognize situations efficiently;
  •  is aware of the limits of his/her competence: can differentiate between tasks that are within and outside of his/her professional competence, and does not exceed this limit;

Content of the course
Topics of the course

  •  Ethical principles and problems of psychological research and publication.
  •  Competence, confidentiality, assessment, relational issues
  •  Ethical thinking and decision making regarding ethical dilemmas

Learning activities, learning methods

Evaluation of outcomes
Learning requirements, mode of evaluation, criteria of evaluation:

  •  active participation, contribution to class discussion
  •  preparation for the calsses based on the required readings

mode of evaluation: combined exam: written and oral

criteria of evaluation:

  •  Factual knowledge
  • Professional level of resolving ethical issues

Reading list
Compulsory reading list

  •  European Federation of Psychologists Associations: Ethical Codes. Source:
  •  National Codes of Ethics.
  •  POPE, K. S. & VETTER, V. A. Ethical dilemmas encountered by members of the American Psychological Association: A national survey. Source:
  •  USA Ethical code in psychology Source:
  •  BARNETT, J. E. & JOHNSON, B. (2008) Ethics Desk Reference for Psychologists Washingthon, DC: American Psychological Association

Recommended reading list

  •  BERSOFF, D. (2003) Ethical conflicts in psychology. Washingthon, DC: American Psychological Association.
  •  KOOCHER, G. & KEITH-SPIEGEL, P. (1998) Ethics in psychology (2nd edition). Oxford University Press.
  •  NAGY, T. F. (2005) Ethics in plain English: An illustrative casebook for psychologists. 2nd ed. Washingthon, DC: American Psychological Association.
  •  NUCASE Internet Resources: Click on StepForward and NUCASE resources (Library)