Sociopolitical and Critical Psychology

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
PSYC 3339
Sociopolitical and Critical Psychology
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
15 Weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours

Lecture: 2 hours/week; Seminar 2 hours/week


Hybrid: 2 hours/week in class; 2 hours/week online


Fully online

Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

Methods of instruction for this course will include some or all of the following:

  1. Lecture
  2. Audio-visual materials
  3. Small group discussion
  4. Problem-based learning
Course Description
The objective of this course is to examine the influence of sociopolitical and economic factors on mental health and psychology. Specifically, this course will examine the impact of critical social issues such as racism, class, gender, heterosexism, ageism, disabilities, oppression, psychosocial trauma, and poverty on researching and practicing psychology. In addition to providing students with the ability to identify and critically analyze how sociopolitical issues like oppression, domination, inequality, and injustice contribute to psychological suffering, the course will also enable students to specify the historical, theoretical, and methodological foundations of the field of Sociopolitical and Critical Psychology. Readings and topical content will include pertinent theory, research, critical debate, and applications relevant to the field of sociopolitical and critical psychology.
Course Content
  1. Historical, theoretical, and methodological bases of Sociopolitical and Critical Psychology
  2. Social justice models
  3. Liberation perspectives
  4. Postcolonial/postmodern perspectives
  5. Intersectionality, power, privilege and oppression
  6. Feminism
  7. Race, culture and ethnicity
  8. Sexuality and gender
  9. Ableism
  10. Religion
  11. Capitalism, neoliberalism, and globalization
  12. Health, mental health, public policy
  13. Education systems
Learning Outcomes

The objective of this course is to convey the knowledge and skills required for identification and analysis of systemic and structural impacts in psychology and mental health.  At the conclusion of this course the successful student will be able to:

  1. Explain the historical, theoretical, and methodological bases of Sociopolitical and Critical Psychology, as these contrast with those from mainstream psychology.
  2. Analyze and evaluate the ways in which sociopolitical structures, and the complex systems they comprise, impact psychology, mental health and personal wellbeing.
  3. Explain how structures and systems such as public policy, institutional behaviors/practices and macrotrends, differentially impact health/wellbeing and social identity groups, and confer privilege or disadvantage.
  4. Analyze and evaluate theory, research methods, concepts, and paradigms that do not account for the impact of structural and systemic factors on mental health and on human well-being, and expose students to alternative paradigms or ways of thinking about these factors.
  5. Analyze and contrast the systemic and structural approach (e.g., policy, programmatic, or precedence) and the personal responsibility and individualistic approach, and determine their relative strengths and weakness.
  6. Apply the results of structural and systemic analyses to inform their knowledge of psychology; explore the practical challenges to assuming a more structural or systemic orientation in the analysis and resolution of mental health and other psychological and social problems.
  7. Critically evaluate scholarly research relating to the field of Sociopolitical and Critical Psychology.
  8. Create their own authentic sense of what it means to be socially responsible in terms of psychology and mental health.
Means of Assessment

The course evaluation will be in accordance with the Douglas College Evaluation Policy. Evaluations will be based on the course objectives. The specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor at the beginning of the semester.

Students may conduct research with human participants as part of their coursework in this class.  Instructors for the course are responsible for ensuring that student research projects comply with College policies on ethical conduct for research involving human subjects.

An example of a possible evaluation scheme would be:

  • Small group assignments 10%
  • Term project paper 20%
  • Term project presentation 10%
  • Midterm exams 40%
  • Final exam 20%
  • TOTAL 100%
Textbook Materials

The reading materials for this course may include a textbook and/or a course package with readings.

Examples of textbooks:
Fox, D., Prilleltensky, I., & Austin, S. (2009). Critical Psychology (2nd Ed.).  Sage Publications.

Selected readings may also be assigned by the instructor.

Examples of selected readings:

Prilletensky, I. (1989). Psychology and the status quo. American Psychologist, 44(5), 795-802.

Smedley, A., & Smedly, B.D. (2005). Race as biology is fiction, racism as social problem is real: Anthropological and historical perspectives on the social construction of race. American Psychologist, 60(1), 16-26.

McIntosh, P. (1988) White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.



PSYC 1100 AND PSYC 1200


One of PSYC 2150 or PSYC 2207 or PSYC 2300 or PSYC 2301 or PSYC 2315 or PSYC 2341 or PSYC 2360 or PSYC 2901 or permission of instructor


Courses listed here must be completed either prior to or simultaneously with this course:

  • No corequisite courses

Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

  • No equivalency courses