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Developmental Psychology

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

This course will offer an insight into how and why children think, feel and behave in the way they do. You will learn about physical, perceptual and cognitive development of children from conception through to adolescence and will examine whether nature or nurture is responsible for how children develop.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No previous knowledge is required.

Content of Course

1. History of study of child development .

Only recently have children been thought of as individuals in their own right. Prior to this they were seen as small adults.

2. Nature versus nurture.

What makes children who they are? Is an intelligent child born clever or is s/he made clever? A look at both sides of the debate

3. Self Concept.

Influences on a child’s developing sense of self and consideration of the Theory of Mind link with autism

4. Social and emotional development.

The bond an infant makes with its mother or main caregiver is an important one. Bowlby’s Theory of Monotropy and Maternal Deprivation Hypothesis.

5. Social and emotional development.

Mary Ainsworth’s Sensitivity Hypothesis and Strange Situation

6. Piaget’s stage theory of cognitive development.

The father of developmental psychology and the first person to regard children as being different to adults. A brief look at his stage theory of cognitive development.

7. Alternative cognitive developmental theories (Vygotsky Bruner).

Piaget’s theory has faced some severe criticism. Vygotsky & Bruner took Piaget’s theory further arguing that a child’s culture and language play a significant role in cognitive development.

8. Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality Development.

Are we motivated by unconscious instinctual drives?

9. Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory of Personality Development.

A lifespan view personality development and the influence of social interaction.

10. Social Learning Theory.

Bandura’s theories of observational learning and self efficacy.

Teaching method(s)

Lecture based with class discussion.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Understand different accounts of how children develop physically and cognitively;

  • Understand the key theories about how cognition develops in children;

  • Demonstrate knowledge of how development progresses in cognitive, social and physical development;

  • Demonstrate a good understanding of specific areas within developmental psychology.


Core Readings


  • Bee, H. L. and Boyd, D. 2011. The Developing Child. 13th ed. Boston; London: Pearson.

Earlier editions are also acceptable


  • Lightfoot, L., Cole, M. and Cole, S., 2012. The Development of Children. 7th ed.New York: Worth.

Class Handouts

Handouts will be provided.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.