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Special Topics in Applied Psychology/Social Sciences

Course Code: PSYC 3901
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Psychology
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 Weeks
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course examines a special topic or emerging questions in the fields of applied psychology and social sciences. Readings and topical content will include theory, research, critical debate, and applications relevant to the specific topic.

Course Content

The general framework of an upper-level special topics course in psychology can be represented as below:

  1. Historical Context
  2. Theories
  3. Mechanisms and Processes
  4. Critical Analysis and Remaining Questions

A specific example of topics for a course on Systemic and Sociocultural Bases of Psychology (all topics as they apply within the disciplinary realm of psychology):

  1. The ways in which societal structures, and the complex systems they comprise, impact psychology, mental health and personal wellbeing
  2. 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
  3. Theories, concepts, and paradigms that do not account for the impact of structural and systemic factors on mental health and on human well-being, and alternative paradigms or ways of thinking about these factors
  4. Systemic and structural approaches to mental health (e.g., policy, programmatic, or precedence) and the personal responsibility and individualistic approach, and their relative strengths and weakness
  5. 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
  6. What is means to be socially responsible in terms of psychology and mental health
  7. Social Justice models, Liberation perspectives, and Post-colonial/Post-modern perspectives on psychology and mental health
  8. Intersectionality, power, privilege and oppression in the disciplinary realm of psychology
  9. Feminism, Race, Culture and Ethnicity, Sexuality and Gender, Ableism, Religion: applications to psychology and mental health
  10. Impact of globalization and education systems on health, mental health, and public policy relevant to the field of psychology

A specific example of topics for a course on Positive Psychology:

  1. Historical perspectives on well-being 
  2. History of positive psychology
  3. Research methods in positive psychology
  4. Subjective well-being: Measurement, correlates, influence, and outcomes
  5. Humanistic perspectives on optimal functioning: Eudaimonia, wisdom, self-actualization, transcendence, and other humanistic ideals of well-being
  6. Scientific perspectives on human strengths
  7. Cultural factors in well-being
  8. Well-being across the lifespan
  9. Mindfulness: Traditions, research, outcomes, and limitations
  10. Institutional influences on well-being: The impact of workplace and governmental policies on well-being
  11. Critical perspectives on positive psychology
  12. The future of positive psychology

A specific example of topics for a course on Psychology of Intimate Relationships:

  1. Attraction & Social Cognition
  2. Communication
  3. Interdependency
  4. Friendships
  5. Love
  6. Sexuality
  7. Stresses & Strains / Conflict
  8. Power & Violence
  9. Dissolution & Loss of Relationships
  10. Maintaining & Repairing Relationships

Methods of Instruction

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following:

  • Lecture
  • Audio-visual materials
  • Small group discussion
  • Problem-based learning

Means of Assessment

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

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%

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

  1. Identify and describe relevant theoretical influences on current scholarship relating to the specific topic of the course.
  2. Define and apply key terms and concepts relating to the specific topic of the course.
  3. Analyze, synthesize, and critically evaluate scholarly research relating to the specific topic of the course.

course prerequisites

Courses listed here must be completed prior to this course:

  • PSYC 1100
  • PSYC 1200


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

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.