Actually, each student will build two applications. First, everyone will build the same Event Management System, which is used for class exercises to demonstrate how to build different pieces of a web app. Second, each student will build his or her own system, too, using the concepts demonstrated in class. Student performance will be determined by the quality of the second system.
There is no textbook. We will not spend a lot of time discussing theory. However, fundamental concepts will be discussed as they become necessary in the course. This will include conceptualizing and diagramming systems, and verbally exaplinging design and implementation choices. There will be a final exam based on these few theoretical concepts.
By the end of the course students will be web developers, with a realistic application to their credit.
Why study PHP/MySQL? Because they are popular languages. For example, Facebook and Wikipedia are written in PHP/MySQL. Many jobs require or prefer people with experience in those technologies. CodingDojo claims both PHP and SQL are in the top 9 languages most preferred by employers.
This course is intended partly to provide an understanding of web development in the wider field of software development but mostly to provide skills that students can use immediately upon graduation, and possibly even earlier than that. Get ready to have fun and join the exciting world of web development!