Spring 2020 - PSYC 450 D200

Advanced Topics in Developmental Psychology (4)

Evolution and Human Development

Class Number: 8392

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 11:30 AM – 2:20 PM
    RCB 7322, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    PSYC 201, 210, 250 and 60 units, and a CGPA of 3.0. Other prerequisites vary by topic offering.



Course can be repeated for credit. Students may not take this course for further credit if similar topics are covered. See Psychology department website for course description.


Through this course, you will become familiar with the basics of evolutionary perspectives on human psychological and behavioral development. This will include research based in evolutionary developmental biology, evolutionary anthropology, and evolutionary developmental psychology. Building on the fundamentals we establish early in the course, together we will read and discuss recent research in human evolution and development and tackle ongoing debates about the concepts of “human nature” and “innateness.” We will read this literature with a critical eye, to highlight gaps in the research literature where an evolutionary approach to developmental psychology is likely to provide new insights into human development.


This class will enable you to better understand the ways in which developmental theories of human psychology and behavior are consistent with evolutionary theoretical approaches. Through this class, you will learn to identify key issues and themes in the human behavioral social sciences, recognize gaps in the research literature, and reconcile seemingly disparate theoretical frameworks with a broad evolutionary perspective. This class will also help you to build practical writing skills and abilities through a structured writing assignment. This writing assignment will follow the format of a peer-reviewed manuscript, in which you submit a draft, receive (and give) peer review, and then resubmit a revised draft along with a response to your reviewers.

The participation component of evaluation includes in-class discussion participation, submitting weekly reading questions, and taking the role of discussion facilitator during a designated class session. The writing component of evaluation includes a paper review the week you facilitate class, as well as your own paper proposal, outline, draft for peer review by your classmates, and the submission of peer reviews of your classmates' work. The term paper will include a revised draft of your manuscript, a response to the peer reviews, and a cover letter as if submitting to an academic journal.


  • Participation: 30%
  • Writing Assignments: 40%
  • Term Paper/Project: 30%


There is no traditional textbook for this class. Instead, you will be required to read multiple shorter books and research articles. Research articles will be posted online via Canvas. We will also use the open/downloadable textbook titled "How to be a Modern Scientist" by Jeffrey Leek, to develop relevant professional skills. See the syllabus for details of the readings.

Evolutionary developmental psychology, biology, and anthropology; evolutionary psychology, innateness, heritability, cultural evolution, human nature, cultural variation

Class meetings will consist entirely of discussion of class readings. Students will be responsible for facilitating discussion in class meetings, based on a schedule that will be set at the beginning of the term.



none Required

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html