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PSYC 3511 History of Psychology


Dr. Amanda L. Mahaffey


Includes outline of development of psychological theories since the Greek philosophers, the story of experimental psychology and its problems, and schools of psychological thinking. Students read original sources in English and English translations. Formerly PSYC 4511.

Prerequisites for this class are PSYC 1001 and that you be a Junior or Senior.

In this course, we explore the depths of psychology from its ancient philosophical roots to modern science. We will read and examine a variety of psychological theories beginning with the ancient Greek philosophers and ending with contemporary psychological science. We will review the history of psychological thought, research, problems, and application. This course will take a holistic approach to the topic in that we will touch on the beginnings and current state of most major areas of psychology, including social, cognitive, clinical, and neuroscience. We will closely follow the book, which reads more like a fabulously interesting novel than a textbook. In this online course, we will engage heavily in class discussion, interacting with each other in deep analysis of the material, and leading the discussion of one chapter. There will be no traditional lecture. Instead, we will read each chapter and come to discussion prepared to engage. Exams are written by the professor and based on reading and discussion.


  • Demonstrate an understanding of the origins and evolution of psychological science
  • Examine the roots of thought on the human psyche
  • Analyze the merits of a variety of theories in psychology
  • Delve into the biographies of famous psychologists throughout history
  • Practice the ability to intellectually discuss the roots of human thought by writing critical discussion posts, citing original theory and empirical evidence, and applying these to modern day behavior


  1. Hunt, Morton. (2007). The Story of Psychology (2nd Ed). Anchor Books. (ISBN-13: 978-0307278074). This book is widely and cheaply available in hardcover, paperback, and kindle e-book. This is a large book and we’ll be reading it in its entirety. This class will be heavily reading-based.
  2. Popular media articles, news reports, videos, empirical journal articles, etc., to be assigned or shared by fellow students on an ad-hoc basis


Your final grade is determined by your performance on the following:

Discussion: 50%
Quizzes: 50%

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Monday – Friday
7:30am to 4:30pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado