History of Modern Psychology

PSYC 397/3.0

A survey of the history of modern psychology, from the early 19th century to the close of the 20th. The more important empirical findings of psychology and related disciplines will be examined together with their theoretical explanations. The course will lead to an examination of the caues of differential scientific progress in the various subfields of psychology.

Learning Outcomes

  • Foundations
  • Background
  • Constructing the Modern World
  • Founding Psychology
  • Psychological Science in the Modern World
  • Applied Psychology in the Modern World


A survey of the history of modern psychology, from the 17th century to the present day. Important empirical findings in psychology and related disciplines will be examined in terms of their historical background and theoretical impact. Emphasis will be placed on understanding progress in the various subfields of psychology. In addition, the contribution of Canadian researchers to the emergence of modern day psychology will be discussed.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Describe philosophical traditions that laid the groundwork for modern psychology.
  • Identify the events in the history of scientific, applied, and professional psychology.
  • Outline key perspectives in scientific, applied, and professional psychology.
  • Understand how the development of psychology was shaped by external forces.
  • Identify important figures in the emergence of psychology and describe their contribution to the field.
  • Describe how psychology has and continues to shape society.
  • Evaluate the influence of Canadian research on modern psychology.


Summer 2016
Course Dates: 
May 2 - July 22, 2016
Exam Dates: 
July 26 - 29, 2016


Group Discussion15%
Peer Review Paper15%
Lecture Presentation15%
Wikipedia Entry15%
Final Proctored Exam30%

** Evaluation Subject to Change **

You must write and pass the final exam in order to pass the course.

Final Examination

Students must write their exam on the day and time scheduled by the University. The start time may vary slightly depending on the off-campus exam centre. Do not schedule vacations, appointments, etc., during the exam period.


Mary Olmstead (olmstead@queensu.ca)

Instructor message

My name is Mary Olmstead, although everyone I know calls me Cella.  I am a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Queen’s University, where I have been teaching and conducting research since 1998.  Most of the courses I have taught relate to my primary research interest: neurobiology of cognition and motivation.  If you would like to learn more about my research and the other courses that I teach, please visit my web site.

My interest in the history of psychology was sparked when I took a course on this topic as an undergraduate at the University of Toronto.  When I was in graduate school at McGill University, I attended many lectures on the history of neuroscience which gave me a broader understanding of psychology as a science.  Following this, I spent three years conducting research at the University of Cambridge (UK) where I was constantly reminded of the importance of historical traditions.

Time Commitment

Students can expect to spend, on average, about 10-12 hours per week on the course.

Course Resources


SOLUS is Queen’s Student On-Line University System. You’ll have access to a SOLUS account once you become a Queen’s student. You’ll use SOLUS to register for courses, add and drop courses, update your contact information, view financial and academic information, and pay your tuition.


Moodle is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into Moodle to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the Moodle site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a good-quality computer (Windows Vista/7/8, Intel Core 2 Duo, or Mac OS X 10.8 or higher, Intel i5 processor, 2 GB RAM) with a high-speed internet connection, soundcard, speakers, microphone (or preferably a headset), webcam and up-to-date versions of free software (Firefox/Internet Explorer/Safari, Java, Flash, Adobe Reader). See also Preparing For Your Course.


The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are in our Dates and Deadlines section.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for 2014-15 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Canadian students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $605.31; for a 6.0-unit course, $1210.62. See also Tuition and Payment.

Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point

GPA Calculators
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How does this affect my academics?
See the GPA and Academic Standing page.

Follow the link above for an explanation of how the GPA system affects such things as the Dean’s Honour List, requirements to graduate, and academic progression.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Grading Scheme
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Campus Bookstore

All textbooks can be purchased at Queen’s Campus Bookstore.

Non-Queen’s Students

All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.

Academic Integrity

Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.