BSc Psychology

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Topics and Issues in Developmental Psychology

Unit code PSYC21021
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Division of Psychology and Mental Health
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit builds upon the developmental psychology introduced in First Year; students will be expected to be familiar with basic ideas and concepts as covered in PSYC10211 Introduction to Developmental Psychology. 


The unit aims to:

-          introduce students to empirical research relating to language development and its cognitive and social precursors in the early years

-          examine different theoretical accounts and methodological issues relating to language acquisition

-          introduce students to empirical research that addresses topics relating to higher order cognitive and social developmental processes from early childhood through to adolescence

-          examine a range of theoretical, methodological and applied issues relating to the development of higher order cognitive and social processes


Teaching and learning methods

This course will include 18 hours of lectures and four 1-hour seminars.

E-learning provision: Lecture content, supplementary reading and resources, and a monitored discussion board will be provided via Blackboard.


Knowledge and understanding

Describe, using appropriate empirical evidence:

-          the stages of communicative development in the first three years of life

-          children’s development of self-concept

-          the different types of play exhibited in the preschool years

-          the development of cooperative and morally-directed behaviour throughout childhood and into                                      adolescence

-          theory of mind research in typically developing and autistic children

Critically evaluate, in the light of appropriate empirical evidence:

-          competing theoretical accounts of how children learn to talk

-          the importance of play to children’s social and cognitive development

-          theory of mind research and its relevance for an understanding of autism

-          theoretical accounts of, and the influence of social context on, prosocial behaviour

Intellectual skills

-          critically evaluate theories of children’s development using appropriate empirical evidence

-          critically evaluate developmental research with reference to methodological considerations

-          synthesise a body of developmental research to produce a well reasoned and supported argument

-          arrive at and present a clear conclusion on the basis of an evaluation of appropriate empirical evidence

-          work as a member of a team to discuss a piece of empirical research or a case study and arrive at a shared understanding of its significance

Practical skills

-          use a range of sources (library, internet, electronic databases) to gather information

-          plan how to construct a written argument based around appropriate empirical evidence

Transferable skills and personal qualities

-   describe a variety of sentence types and grammatical categories using appropriate linguistic terminology

-   independently gather and select the most relevant information from a body of work by using online and library sources

-   produce a written summary of research for an educated audience

-   appreciate the cognitive and social abilities and understanding of children at different ages

-   draw on empirical research in developmental psychology to understand how children’s knowledge can be assessed in age-appropriate ways

          -    work effectively in a team by appreciating the importance of recognising the contributions of all team members

Assessment methods

Blackboard quizzes worth 10% and an essay based exam worth 90%.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 18
Seminars 4
Independent study hours
Independent study 78

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Anna Theakston Unit coordinator

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