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Master in Research Developmental Psychology

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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 * ability to plan, design and carry out research in the domain of developmental psychology * 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 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 MRes in Developmental Psychology is a particularly suitable course for students who plan to go on to a doctorate. It is also suitable for those planning to go on to further professional training in psychology, for those wishing to pursue a career as researchers, or for professionals wishing to develop their own research expertise in the area of developmental psychology.
  • Academic Title
    Master in Research Developmental Psychology
  • Course description
    Recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as providing a research training foundation course appropriate for potential doctoral students.

    The MRes in Developmental Psychology is designed to increase the depth and breadth of your understanding of children’s development and to develop research skills specific to the area of developmental psychology. The programme covers social and educational aspects of development and the development of language and cognition.

    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 course also includes a course on statistics and research design. A research-based dissertation is an important part of the programme and provides an opportunity to work under the supervision of an experienced research academic in developmental psychology.

    Course content

    The course is offered as a master's in research (MRes), which carries 180 Master's-level credit accumulation and transfer system (CATS) credits.

    The MRes in Developmental Psychology is based on the completion of all taught modules, the module Research Design Skills and a 10,000-word research-based dissertation.
    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; 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, building on students' knowledge of statistics acquired at undergraduate level. Covers standard and advanced statistical theory and methods providing an opportunity to consolidate and extend statistical expertise in descriptive and inferential statistics. It also provides an introduction to multinomial and multivariate analysis, and analysis of data using SPSS.

    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.
    Research-based dissertation modules

    Research Design Skills (10 M-level CATS credits) provides a structured framework within which you identify your thesis topic, critically review relevant previous research, and develop a workable design for your empirical project. The module ensures that you carry out the theoretical and methodological groundwork for your research-based dissertation and provides milestones for project development and an opportunity to gain tutor and peer feedback. A seminar presentation based on material assembled from the critical literature review gives you the opportunity to practice and gain feedback in giving seminars. Practice seminars also provide an opportunity to share knowledge gained from your research. A second seminar is intended to allow you to present the ideas and design that will form the basis of your research-based dissertation. Pilot study data is reported, where relevant. The second seminar is assessed.

    The Dissertation (50 M-level CATS credits) is 10,000 words long. It is an extended and supervised piece of work reporting new empirical data. It is always grounded in a thorough review of the relevant scientific literature and normally requires experimental data collection. The aim of the dissertation is to allow you to develop your own ideas in a specific domain of developmental psychology and to provide you with experience in research design, data collection, analysis, and interpretation. You will also have the opportunity to work alongside an experienced academic from the developmental psychology research group in the Psychology Department. 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 Agency Subject Review. 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.
    ESRC Recognition

    The MRes in Developmental Psychology is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as providing a research training foundation course appropriate for potential doctoral students. Students from the UK and EU are eligible to apply for ESRC +3 studentships to support their Doctoral training. The course offers specific training in developmental psychology research methods in order to enable graduates in Psychology to develop the essential skills needed to become a competent investigator in this field.

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