BEHV 3011 History and Philosophy of Psychology

Credit Points 10

Legacy Code 100015

Coordinator Catherine O'Gorman Opens in new window

Description This unit provides an overview of the origins and historical development of psychology. It examines the major landmarks in the history of psychology, focusing on important individuals, schools of thought, and recurrent ideas and themes. Historical conceptual problems are related to areas of controversy within contemporary psychology, and an insight is provided into the philosophical underpinnings of the various new movements and major theoretical conflicts within psychology today. The unit also provides a critical appraisal of psychology's status as a science, and explores the limits of psychological inquiry.

School Psychology

Discipline Behavioural Science

Student Contribution Band HECS Band 4 10cp

Check your HECS Band contribution amount via the Fees page.

Level Undergraduate Level 3 subject

Pre-requisite(s) BEHV 1016 AND
BEHV 1018

Assumed Knowledge

Basic understanding of core concepts of personality, cognition, learning, perception, biological, social and developmental psychology and research methods is desirable

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:
  1. Display basic knowledge of the historical and conceptual origins of psychology as a discipline, the major landmarks in the history of psychology, and the particular contributions made by various individuals and schools of thought or movements (APAC Graduate Attribute 1);
  2. Apply knowledge of historical conceptual problems to contemporary problems in psychology (APAC GA 3);
  3. Recognise the problems for psychology of some of its major concepts (such as: mind; behaviour; consciousness; meaning; values; theory; explanation; and so on) (APAC GA 3);
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of the various arguments which have been presented in favour of (or against) certain kinds of psychological theory (APAC GA 3);
  5. Evaluate the historical background and contemporary debates contributing to the great science/non-science divide in psychology, and the relationship of psychology to other disciplines (APAC GA 3);
  6. Describe the interdependence of theory and practice in psychology, including the role of ethics, and the relationship between theory and practice in the scientist-practitioner model of psychological practice (APAC GA 3 and 4);

Subject Content

1. Introduction and major themes
2. Mind and reality in the classical world
3. Mind and reality in the medieval world and the renaissance
4. Descartes, dualism and rationalism
5. British Empiricism and Kant?fs response
6. The Darwinian revolution and William James?fs functionalism
7. The Freudian revolution
8. The behaviourist and cognitive revolutions
9. Psychology and 20th century philosophy of science
10. Recent challenges to traditional scientific psychology
11. Contemporary controversies and future directions


The following table summarises the standard assessment tasks for this subject. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated, where there is a difference your Learning Guide takes precedence.

Item Length Percent Threshold Individual/Group Task
Portfolio 2000 Words 50 N Individual
Final Exam 2 hours; 1000 words to be marked 50 N Individual

Teaching Periods