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Module PPP-2011:
Developmental Psychology

Module Facts

Run by School of Psychology

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Mihela Erjavec

Overall aims and purpose

This module focuses on biological, cognitive, and social development processes and their interrelations. In the first part of the module, students are presented with a critical overview of the main theories and approaches to the study of basic processes in development, with an emphasis on their origins in childhood. In later lectures, some of the applications of developmental research are presented and discussed.

Course content

Topics covered in lectures will include introduction to developmental psychology; prenatal development and birth; early development, perception, and learning; piagetian view of cognitive development; vygotskian theory and context for development; development of social cognition, imitation, and theory of mind; development of emotions and attachment. In lectures and guest talks, we will also consider the ways in which research findings can be applied to improve developmental outcomes in children and their families.

Assessment Criteria


Adequate answer to the question, largely based on lecture material. No real development of argumnets. Demonstrates familiarity with key developmental concepts introduced in the Module but without elaboration. Minor errors. Students who perform at this level would receive D-, D, or D+ grades.


Reasonably comprehensive coverage. Well organised and structured. Good understanding of the material. Evidence of engagement and understanding of all developmental concepts introduced in the Module. Students who only just reach this level would receive C-, C, or C+ grades. Those who show more accomplished performances would receive B-, B, or B+ grades.


Comprehensive and accurate coverage of the area clarity of argument and expression. Depth of insight into theoretical issues. Evidence of wider reading and detailed knowledge of developmental topics covered in the Module. Students who perform at this level would receive A-, A, A+, or A* grades.

Learning outcomes

  1. Understand major concepts in developmental psychology and theoretical approaches to the study of child development, including biological, cognitive, and social developmental perspectives.

  2. Critically evaluate issues surrounding some of the major topics studied by developmental psychologist within the framework of relevant theoretical perspectives.

  3. Consider developmental psychology as a science in its wider societal and cultural context; examine some of its key concepts, ethical issues, and political influences.

  4. Understand research methods used to investigate the origins of individual differences in children and evaluate their strengths and limitations.

  5. Describe the major stages and processes in children’s cognitive, emotional, and social development.

  6. Examine the broader context in which development occurs.

  7. Understand the origins and impact of some of main childhood development issues and evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions designed to alleviate these problems.

  8. Communicate some of recent research in developmental psychology in a way that can be helpful to specified target (specialist or lay) audiences.

  9. Working independently, search the literature to learn about methods and findings used to investigate specific topics, and consider their strengths and shortcomings.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
COURSEWORK The Conversation article

Students will write an article for The Conversation reporting on recent findings from developmental literature.

EXAM Essay

Students will write short answer questions covering module topics.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

  • Weekly lectures will incorporate visual media to illustrate key concepts, findings, and methods, and guest talks will complement the lecture materials with applied research presentations
  • Questions will be answered after each lecture and via email. Individual students will be seen in weekly drop-in sessions.
Private study
  • Setting aside a couple of hours each week to go over the materials presented in lectures and required reading (22 hours)
  • For coursework, we recommend at least 10 hours to identify a topic and conduct a literature search and another 10 hours of writing and editing (20+ hours)
  • Students should use the remaining time for revision ahead of the Final Exam; we recommend spending around 2 hours per topic and 5-10 hours on practicing mini-essay writing using the examples presented in class (30 hours).

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Caring - Showing concern for others; caring for children, people with disabilities and/or the elderly
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Understand the scientific underpinnings of psychology as a discipline.
  • Apply multiple perspectives to psychological issues and integrate ideas and findings across the multiple perspectives in psychology.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in written form.
  • Be computer literate for the purpose of processing and disseminating psychological data and information.
  • Retrieve and organise information effectively.
  • Handle primary source material critically.
  • Be sensitive and react appropriately to contextual and interpersonal psychological factors.
  • Use effectively personal planning and project management skills.
  • Work effectively under pressure (time pressure, limited resources, etc) as independent and pragmatic learners.
  • Problem-solve by clarifying questions, considering alternative solutions, making critical judgements, and evaluating outcomes.
  • Reason scientifically and demonstrate the relationship between theory and evidence.
  • Comprehend and use psychological data effectively, demonstrating a systematic knowledge of the application and limitations of various research paradigms and techniques.
  • Employ evidence-based reasoning and examine practical, theoretical and ethical issues associated with the use of different methodologies, paradigms and methods of analysis in psychology.
  • Be aware of ethical principles and approval procedures.


Resource implications for students

There will be books in the Library, although reliance on these resources requires good planning. Any additional reading will be made available to the class through Blackboard. Required reading for each lecture topic will be indicated in class.

Talis Reading list

Reading list

Module textbook. Copies will be available through Library. Students will be advised to buy the book.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: