Developmental and Social Psychology | Abertay University

Developmental and Social Psychology


This is a core BPS psychology module that is designed to give Masters level students in depth understanding of theory, methods and empirical data in key areas of developmental and social psychology. Topics will include developmental change in cognition, emotion, socialisation and physical development in pre-natal, childhood, and adulthood as well as social cognition, attitudes, group processes and intergroup relations.


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with : knowledge of theories and research approaches in developmental and social psychology, appropriate to their level of study. Second, to promote students' understanding and critical evaluation of social and developmental psychology research.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the major theoretical and methodological approaches in social and developmental psychology.

2.  Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of developmental change in cognition, emotion, socialisation and physical development, including major developmental milestones in children and adolescents.

3.  Show a critical awareness of current thinking on the interaction between biological bases and environmental influences in development.

4.  Show an in-depth understanding of the key research findings in social psychology.

5.  Critically evaluate classic and contemporary research from different branches of social and developmental psychology.

6.  Recognise the links between social and developmental psychology as well as other core areas of psychology.

Indicative Content

1 Biological basis of development; theories and milestones

Pre and postnatal brain development, brain maturation, biological basis of ageing

2 Infancy & Early childhood

Methods for Studying Physical Development: Cognitive Development, Memory and Language Development, Social and Emotional Development

3 Middle Childhood & Adolescence

Physical and Cognitive Development, Social Development and Peer Relations, Emotional and Moral Development

4 Adulthood & Aging

Biological, cognitive and social changes in adulthood. Theories and data on midlife crisis, models of cognitive decline; emotional and personality changes, dementia, death, longevity.

5 Conceptual and historical issues in social psychology

Defining social psychology. Understanding historical shifts from classic psychology to contemporary social cognition. Classic social biases.

6 Pro and anti social behaviour

Exploring key theories concerning the cause of anti and pro social behaviour.

7 Attitudes and attitude change

Understanding how attitudes are formed and the extent to which they influence behaviour. Exploring how internal and external forces drive attitude change.

8 Conformity and obedience

The extent to which people change their behaviour in response to social influences. Understanding blind obedience and factors that change obedience levels.

9 Social identity

The role of group membership in identity and the influence of social identity on person perception and behaviour.

10 Stereotypes and prejudice

Exploring categorisation and individuation. Automaticity of stereotype activation and control. Prejudice effects and reduction strategies.

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

In line with the teaching and learning strategy of the University and its Abertay Attributes, the teaching sessions will integrate lecture style teaching with inquiry led, student centered learning. Lectures will deliver key ideas closely related to staff research activities, and will include interactive elements (e.g., demonstrating important experimental tasks). Seminars will involve discussions centered around specific phenomena and empirical findings. Students will be asked to present and discuss research papers, fostering personal, intellectual and professional skills by developing evaluative understanding, communication skills, confidence and teamwork.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 12
Tutorial/Seminar 24
Supervised Practical Activity 0
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 40
Independent 124

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2018/19 , and may be subject to change for future years.