BSc Psychology / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Topics and Issues in Developmental Psychology

Course unit fact file
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. In this course unit, we will explore higher order developmental processes from early childhood through to adolescence. We will first focus on how children learn language, beginning with the early social and cognitive precursors to language development, then moving on to early word learning and later combinatorial speech. The second half of this course unit focuses on social and cognitive development, specifically the development of the concept of self, exploration during play, morality, and theory of mind in early childhood. 


This unit aims to:

Introduce students to empirical research relating to linguistic, social, and cognitive development 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 social and cognitive development during early childhood. Examine a range of theoretical, methodological and applied issues relating to the development of higher order social and cognitive processes.

Teaching and learning methods

This unit will be taught via lectures and seminars.

Supplementary reading, 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

-          role of play and exploration 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 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

-          theoretical accounts of morality

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


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

-          engage via online discussion forums with peers and academic staff

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

-   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 in a self-directed and supported way to achieve stated goals; Engage in group discussions and make contributions to a collective goal.

Assessment methods

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

Feedback methods

Students will receive a grade and individual/cohort feedback.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 86

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Saadet Koymen Unit coordinator

Return to course details