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Master Child Development and Learning

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  • Objectives
    The course aims to develop your: * ability to critically evaluate contemporary evidence and issues in the promotion of children's development * knowledge and experience of different research methods in the study of children's psychological development * knowledge of theories about children's cognitive, affective, social and cultural development * own ideas and interests in the domain of child development * capacity to communicate and collaborate in the construction of knowledge about children's development.
  • Entry requirements
    Applicants must normally possess the following qualifications: * a second class or first class honours degree in psychology or an acceptable cognate discipline, or * an academic equivalent to an honours degree in psychology, such as Oxford Brookes University's Graduate Diploma in Psychology or a similar conversion course, or * a recognised teaching, or health professional qualification, and * English as their first language, or GCSE or O-level English Language, or a TOEFL score of at least 600, or an IELTS score of 7.0, or equivalent evidence of proficiency in English. Applicants with exceptional experience may apply for consideration of their portfolio by the admissions committee. Applicants who, as a result of qualifications or experience (or both), can demonstrate knowledge and capabilities equivalent to those possessed by holders of the qualifications listed above may be admitted with dispensation from the requirement to possess those qualifications. The MSc in Child Development and Learning attracts a variety of students. Among them are those with a fascination for the subject matter; those wanting to further their personal or professional development; and those wanting to enhance their academic or skills profile for professional training at postgraduate level. It is an ideal course for people working with children who wish to advance their research-based knowledge.
  • Academic Title
    MSc / PGDip / PGCert Child Development and Learning
  • Course description
     MSc / PGDip / PGCert

    The MSc in Child Development and Learning introduces the advanced study of children and their psychological development from pre-school through middle childhood. It is designed to increase the depth and breadth of your understanding of children's development and offers an excellent basis for professionals who work with children, such as teachers, social workers, counsellors and paediatric nurses. This academic programme is designed to be of value to professionals, rather than a professional training course.

    You will develop your knowledge of the methods used in the investigation of children's development as well as your understanding of  theories and research advances in this domain. The programme also covers theory and design of research in psychology, statistics, the social and educational aspects of development, and the development of language and cognition.

    Course content

    The course is offered at three levels: a master's degree (MSc), a postgraduate diploma (PGDip) and a postgraduate certificate (PGCert). The courses carry 180, 120 and 60 master's-level credit accumulation and transfer system (CATS) credits respectively.

    The MSc in Child Development and Learning is based on the completion of all taught modules, the module Critical Thinking & Presentation Skills for Research and a 10,000-word library-based dissertation. To gain a PGDip you need to take all four taught modules, but not the Critical Thinking and Library-Based Dissertation modules. To gain a PGCert you need to take two modules: Social and Educational Aspects of Development and The Development of Language, Memory and Cognition.

    The taught modules:

        * Introduction to Theory and Methods in Research (20 M-level CATS credits) advances students' knowledge of theory and research methods and provides the opportunity for reflection on the nature of scientific inquiry and the advancement of psychological science. The syllabus covers qualitative methods and philosophy of science; observation, ethnography and case studies in psychological research; the interview as a method of data collection; theoretical and methodological approaches in the analysis of interviews; quantitative methods; the use of computational models of cognitive processes and the use of psychometric methods; critical analysis of research papers and methods.
        * Research Methods in Developmental Psychology (20 M-level CATS credits) focuses on conceptual, design, and analytic issues in research on child development. Topics include the nature of child development, central questions in developmental psychology, research paradigms and research designs. The module also provides hands on experience of a range of analytical techniques and tools in developmental psychology research, including the analysis of observational, cross-sectional, longitudinal, interview and psychometric data.
        * Statistical Analysis of Psychological Data (20 M-level CATS credits) advances students' knowledge of statistical concepts and techniques of analysis, and provides practical experience for analysing materials collected in the module Theory and Methods in Research. The module builds on students' knowledge of statistics acquired at undergraduate level by introducing ideas that form the background of psychological measurement and statistical modelling.
        * Social and Educational Aspects of Development (40 M-level CATS credits) provides you with a socio-cultural view of development and how education impacts on development and cognition. Topics covered include paradigms for analysing social influences on development, cognitive developmental theory, culture and cognition, culture and socialisation, children in interactions with care-givers, understanding others and the social world, children in schools, moral development, relationships in the family, non-normative families, gender roles, reading development, writing development, development of numeracy.
        * The Development of Language, Memory and Cognition (20 M-level CATS credits) enables you to develop a critical understanding of key aspects of cognition, their biological basis and their development. Topics covered include developmental cognitive neuropsychology; perceptual-motor development; working memory; language development; ADHD and other disorders.

    The dissertation modules:

        * Critical Thinking & Presentation Skills for Research (10 M-level CATS credits) provides a structured framework within which students identify their dissertation topic, critically review relevant research literature and develop their bibliographic and presentation skills. This includes an introduction to reviewing skills and writing in psychology as well as hands-on experience of performing literature searches, preparing visual aides for presentations and using software to collate references. Students participate in presentations and debates about their own research and submit a written proposal for their dissertation.
        * The Library-Based Dissertation (50 M-level CATS credits) is 10,000 words long. It is an extended and supervised piece of work offering students an opportunity to carry out a detailed review and evaluation of the relevant scientific literature in a specific domain of research in developmental psychology.  The aim of the dissertation is to allow you to develop your own ideas in a specific domain of child development and learning and to provide you with experience in critical thinking and interpretation of research findings and writing-up of a dissertation. The content consists of individual tutorials with project supervisors and individual work.

    Teaching, learning and assessment

    The programme is taught through a combination of lectures, research seminars, workshops, tutorials, case presentations, supervised seminar presentations, and independent reading and research. Diverse teaching methods are employed to aid the quality of learning opportunities for students' understanding of child development and learning. These methods are described in the modular handbooks, and their effectiveness is monitored and analysed in the module feedback system and the psychology annual review process.

    Methods of assessment are described in the module handbooks and monitored and evaluated using student feedback procedures and the psychology annual review process.

    Summative assessment methods include:

        * coursework assessments
        * individual and/or group presentation assessments
        * class tests.

    Formative assessment methods include:

        * coursework feedback processes
        * informal tutor discussion
        * group discussion.


    The Psychology Department has an excellent reputation for teaching and was awarded 23/24 at the last Quality Assurance Audit. The most recent Periodic Review noted that the department was 'very alert to and aware of the importance of the student experience'.
    Research in the department focuses around three research groups. The largest research group is in Developmental Psychology where the focus is on cognitive, linguistic, social, and motor development and, in particular, developmental disorders. The Psychology Department at Oxford Brookes has one of the largest groups of developmental psychologists in the UK. The research group in Adult Cognition and Neuropsychology has a focus on computational modelling, visual cognition, adult cognitive processing and disorders. The third group has expertise in Qualitative Methods.

    The course is taught by subject matter experts who have published their own research in this field. The external examiners are satisfied that the course content and programme outcomes are reflective of what an MSc in Child Development and Learning should deliver.

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