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History of Psychology



In the History of Psychology course the focus will be on changeability and fallibility of knowledge in general and psychological knowledge in particular. The course aims to show how internal and external scientific factors have contributed to the development of psychology as a discipline, and how the academic discipline of psychology continues to be indebted to the more general development of science and the history of philosophy.

As well as the history of psychology from 1600 until the beginning of cognitive psychology in the 20th century, the course will also include:

  • an introduction to the theory and history of science

  • an introduction to philosophical terminology

  • an introduction, or re-introduction, to social history

Course objectives

The main objectives of the course are the following:

  • Students will be introduced to the main historical conceptions of psychology from 1600 to the beginning of cognitive psychology.

  • Students will learn that ideas on psychology as an academic discipline and on the psychological functioning of individuals change over time.

  • Students will learn that ideas on what constitutes a scientific approach are also determined by developments in society.

  • Students will become acquainted with basic philosophical concepts of knowledge and the world.


History of Psychology (2013-2014):



First-year students will automatically be registered for the course.


Students will not be automatically enrolled for an examination — they can register via uSis from 100 to 10 calendar days before the date. Students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the examination.

Mode of instruction

8 two-hour lectures and 4 work group sessions.

Work group sessions

There will be four work group sessions. A work group will consist of one instructor and a maximum of 24 students (two tutorial groups combined). Attendance is obligatory, and students will be graded. The work group grade will be included in the calculation of the final grade. Assignments will be used to check knowledge and understanding of the material in the course book chapters under study. The instructors will assess the answers as ‘pass’ or ‘fail’. An overall grade will be awarded for participation and assignments. For information on how this grade will be calculated, see the course workbook.


The material to be studied for the examination consists of chapters from the reading list and lecture material, as assigned by the instructor. The examination consists of 40 multiple-choice questions. The grade for the work group sessions will be included in the calculation of the final grade.


Current information on the course is available on the Blackboard course site: the lecture schedule, weekly study material, questions for study and discussion, and any other information that may contribute to a better understanding of the material.


  • R. E. Fancher and A. Rutherford (2012). Pioneers of Psychology. New York: Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-93530-1 (pbk).

If you are a member of the study association Labyrint you may purchase books at a reduced price via their study book service. Alternatively there are the academic book shops.