Developmental Psychology MSc develops your understanding of the psychological processes that underlie an individual's social, emotional and cognitive development throughout their life.
To understand any psychological phenomenon fully it is necessary to understand how it develops. The Master’s programme at Kent gives you a deep understanding of the advanced methods, analytical techniques, and theoretical and practical approaches to developmental psychology and developmental psychopathology
You focus on questions such as: What psychological changes occur during infancy, childhood, and adolescence? What psychological processes drive the development of children? What can psychologists do to promote healthy development in neurotypical individuals and support development among individuals with developmental disorders?
The MSc in Developmental Psychology at Kent is taught by academics and professionals such as educational psychologists, clinical psychologists, child therapists, and speech and language therapists.
The programme draws on the strengths of academic staff and researchers working in the field of developmental psychology, with expertise including language development, representational ability and early social-cognitive understanding of others, singing, infant face processing, the development of prejudice and social exclusion, and developmental psychopathology. MSc students also have the opportunity to use the Kent Child Development Unit (KCDU), a resource including child-friendly lab space and a register of 3,000 potential child participants.
Watch an additional video about Taught MSc Degrees in the School of Psychology and find out about the excellent support we give to our students.
As a student within the School of Psychology at Kent, you benefit from our supportive, dynamic and diverse environment for creative research and learning.
All of our taught Master’s (MSc) programmes have been recognised by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as meeting the nationally recognised criteria for preparation training for PhD research.
Conducting both basic and applied research in several areas, Psychology at Kent is highly regarded as a leading European centre for postgraduate research. Our cutting-edge, internationally recognised research in developmental, cognitive, social, and forensic psychology underlies our reputation for research excellence across these areas. We attract excellent visiting scholars and postgraduate students from both within the UK and overseas.
Some of our PhD students are self-funded, and others are funded by grants or awards either from the School, UK or their countries of origin. Some are also paid to undertake part-time teaching within the School. We have a strong track record of attracting ESRC research studentship funding, which involves partnerships with external organisations such as Age UK and the Equality and Human Rights Commission and collaborative studentships with partners such as People United.
A final degree classification (grade average) of at least a 2.1 or Merit in the UK system (the second highest classification after First/Distinction). Results from institutions in other countries will be assessed individually according to this standard. However, applicants who do not meet this criterion are still welcome to apply, and their individual circumstances will be considered on a case by case basis.
Applicants with undergraduate degrees in psychology are preferred and those with related social sciences or science degrees are also considered. If the undergraduate degree is in a different subject, or if it is not accredited by the British Psychological Society, please ask your academic referee to complete the Pro-forma for Developmental Psychology and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This programme includes a one-year statistics sequence which you must normally pass in order to receive your award. The teaching assumes that you are familiar with the following topics:
Therefore, your existing degree transcript should note that you have taken and passed a minimum of one term each in statistics and social science research methods courses (or two terms of a joint statistics and research methods course).
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.
The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time
We provide you with specialised knowledge of a range of theoretical and practical approaches to developmental psychology and developmental psychopathology, including an understanding of how research in developmental psychology can inform policy and practice across educational, health, forensic and clinical professional practice (eg research on language and reading development, social and emotional development).
You study four compulsory modules and two option modules. The compulsory modules are Statistics and Methodology (SP801), Advanced Topics in Cognitive Development (SP581), Advanced Topics in Developmental Psychopathology (SP854) and a supervised empirical or theoretical dissertation (SP998).
View this year's timetable. Please note that timetabling and modules may change from year to year.
The modules below are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
This module provides a postgraduate-level orientation to both basic and advanced contemporary statistical and methodological issues in psychology. The methodological issues you consider include qualitative research methodologies; experimental, quasi-experimental, and correlational research designs in the laboratory and field; and the fundamental issues in psychological measurement including reliability and validity. The statistical techniques you learn include univariate and multivariate descriptive and inferential statistics; basic and advanced topics in ANOVA and ANCOVA; linear and logistic multiple regression; some scaling methods; classical test theory, factor analysis; fundamentals of structural equation modelling (path analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, multiple-group analysis), and some item response theory.
This module explores the typical development of key cognitive functions and the psychological methods employed to study these developments. The aim of the module is to explore these topics at an advanced level, allowing students to evaluate critically pieces of research in terms of their findings, conceptual underpinnings, and/or methodological approaches. Lecture topics may include: Research methods in developmental psychology; Critical periods and plasticity; Introduction to theories of word learning; The critical period for language learning; Social learning and imitation; Thinking about the minds of others; Understanding knowledge; Metacognition
This module investigates common forms of neurodevelopmental disorder. The goal of the module is to help students understand the behavioural manifestations of these disorders, as well as their possible psychological/cognitive, neurobiological, and/or etiological (genetic/environmental) causes. Moreover, the module will explore some characteristic approaches that clinicians take when attempting to support people with these disorders and remediate the difficulties that these people experience. Finally, students will learn to evaluate critically pieces of research on developmental psychopathology in terms of study findings, conceptual underpinnings, and/or methodological approaches
The module will survey cutting edge research emphasising the role of sensory and motor systems in human cognition. We will discuss the relationship between brain, mind and body, from physiological, experimental, philosophical, linguistic, and neuroscientific perspectives. The module will cover areas such as sensorimotor interactions, interoception, somatosensory and motor plasticity, body representation, body ownership, the sense of agency, as well as embodied cognition. Implications for cognition, social behaviour and clinical conditions will be emphasised.
The focus of this module is on developing your understanding of how developmental psychology can be applied in professional settings, e.g. education, healthcare and clinical psychology. You receive lectures from professionals working in clinical psychology, educational psychology and speech and language development, who can explain, first-hand, current issues in professional settings where developmental psychology could provide insights or solutions. The speakers outline major theories that inform practice and critically evaluate the role of developmental psychology in their professional setting with reference to case studies.
The aim of the module is to provide an understanding of the current conceptual debates within Social Psychology and an appreciation of how practitioners apply psychology in their work. You study the major theoretical models and perspectives, including social cognition, stereotyping, group and interpersonal processes and intergroup relations.
This module provides an opportunity to study at an advanced level the literature on intergroup relations. The module builds upon knowledge gathered in the undergraduate degree on social and personality psychology. It will stress how social-psychological and personality theories in combination can explain intergroup processes. Emphasis will be placed on applying theoretical models and empirical findings to the analysis of real-world problems. Topics that will be addressed include social identity and social categorization, social inequality, prejudice, intergroup conflict and innervations to improve intergroup relations. The module relies primarily on research in social and personality psychology, but we will also consider perspectives from other fields, such as political science and sociology. This module relies heavily on student presentation, participation and student discussion.
This module provides an understanding of current conceptual debates in Social Psychology together with an appreciation of how practitioners apply behavioural principles in their field of work. The module focuses on the application of conceptual and methodological insights to significant real-world problems, as well as the development of new theoretical approaches based on the lessons learned from applied research and practice.
This module will provide students with theoretical instruction and practical experience in some key advanced research methods appropriate for scientific research in cognitive (neuro)psychology. The study of cognitive processes and the temporal nature of brain activity will feature highly in this module.
All students undertake a supervised empirical research project in an area of psychology relevant to their chosen MSc programme, and submit it as a typed dissertation of approximately 8,000 words. The aim of the dissertation is to test the student's ability to plan, execute, analyse, and report a piece of independent research in the relevant setting. The dissertation requires detailed theoretical knowledge of the discipline, an appreciation of the ways in which that knowledge has been applied in previous research and practice, and the methodological and statistical skills to set up a scientific investigation. Supervision is provided by the principal teaching staff and by other appropriate staff with research interests in a student's chosen area. Students are advised to read the School's Ethics pages for information on submitting applications for ethical approval to the School and to relevant outside bodies.
The programme includes lecture, workshop, and seminar-based teaching, as well as practical demonstrations of modern methods for studying child development (eg behavioural techniques, eye-tracking, electroencephalography), and an individually supervised empirical research project. Assessment is mainly by coursework assignment (4000-6000-word essays), examination (for the Advanced Statistics and Methodology, and the Advanced Topics in Developmental Psychopathology modules only), plus the dissertation.
This programme aims to:
You will gain knowledge and understanding of:
You develop intellectual skills in:
You gain subject-specific skills in:
You will gain the following transferable skills:
The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.
For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact email@example.com.
The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.
Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.
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In The Complete University Guide 2021, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 10 for research intensity. This is a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the university.
Please see the University League Tables 2021 for more information.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Psychology was ranked 11th in the UK for research intensity.
An impressive 95% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 97% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.
The School of Psychology is highly regarded as a leading European centre for postgraduate research, with an international reputation for excellence in social psychology (including group processes and intergroup relations); cognition and neuroscience; developmental psychology; and forensic psychology. We have staff who can supervise research degrees in all of these areas. The research environment is designed to sustain a strong, vibrant research culture, encourage collaboration, and unite staff and students with shared research interests. Our themes ensure critical mass and create a highly energetic and stimulating intellectual climate.
Research activity is supported by:
Much of the research conducted by members of the Developmental Psychology group is conducted with neurotypical infants, children, and adolescents. However, we also take a lifespan approach to the study of development and conduct research with older adults. Moreover, a key focus of our research is on neuro-developmental disorders. Central research topics include:
Developmental group members are particularly interested in the expression and control of ethnic and gender prejudice, social ostracism and inclusion, conversational norms and group identity in children. We also conduct research on social aspects of older adulthood, in particular self-stereotyping and prejudice against elderly people.
Cognitive development is a major focus of many of our developmental psychologists. In particular, members of the Developmental Psychology group actively research topics such as the development of social cognition and theory of mind, language, information and sensory processing, and conversation and pragmatic skills.
Our developmental research also focuses on adolescence, as well as infancy, childhood and older adulthood. In particular, we are interested in the emergence of gang activity and antisocial behaviour during this period of development.
We also conduct cutting-edge research into neuro-developmental disorders, such as autism and language impairment, with a view to understanding the nature and basis of, and best ways to treat, these disorders.
Much of our social psychology research is co-ordinated through the Centre for the Study of Group Processes (CSGP), the largest research group in this area in Europe. CSGP attracts a stream of major international social psychology researchers, who are officially affiliated to it and visit regularly to work with our staff. The Social Psychology group also includes the co-editor of Group Processes and Intergroup Relations (Abrams).
Social psychology research at Kent is funded by a variety of British and international sources, currently and recently including ESRC, British Academy, Leverhulme, Age Concern, European Commission, European Science Foundation, Home Office, Equality and Human Rights Commission, Nuffield, and Joseph Rowntree Foundation, as well as government departments such as the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions.
The Social Psychology group includes the following themes:
This research is carried out in our social psychology laboratories, at schools and in business organisations. For example, research within this topic focuses on questions such as: how contact between members of different social groups is represented psychologically, how intergroup contact affects prejudice, when outgroups are seen as less human, when and why children show prejudice, and why organisational mergers sometimes fail.
Research on this topic combines theory-driven research and engagement with policy. It is conducted in real-life settings such as the workplace, and involves national and international surveys. For example, the research focuses on the well-being of elderly people in Britain, work participation and motherhood, and discrimination against different groups in society.
Laboratory studies and community-based research are conducted on this topic. For example, research focuses on co-operation in small groups, group decision-making, perception and influence of leaders, social communication and language, subjective group dynamics in adults and children, the dynamics of prison gang activity, and the impact of alcohol on group processes.
Much of this research is carried out in laboratories, through surveys and in clinical or other applied settings. For example, research has examined aggression, the adaptive functions of perfectionism, and consequences of mortality salience.
Research under this theme has an international reputation in the topic areas of Visual Cognition, Attention and Memory, and Language and Communication.
Research on this topic focuses primarily on the role of vision and visual perception in human performance. The fundamental aim of this work is to identify the cognitive processes and neurological mechanisms underlying various visual tasks. Studies involving neurologically healthy volunteers examine issues such as face recognition and identification, eyewitness testimony, person detection, emotion processing, episodic memory and pattern and motion recognition.
Research in this group examines various aspects of semantic, pragmatic and syntactic understanding. Research questions on healthy populations include the role of executive functions in successful language use and communication, how language influences attentional processes and perspective taking, anomaly detection, and the effect of interruptions on reading. Work on developmental populations examines issues such as how children learn to understand and produce sentences in their own language, and how they learn conversational conventions and self-repair. Research also examines developmental disorders of communication, including autism spectrum disorders and dyslexia. This research group has links with researchers in the School of European Culture and Languages, as part of the Centre for Language and Linguistic Studies.
Forensic Psychology research at Kent and all forensic-related teaching operates through our newly constituted Centre of Research and Education in Forensic Psychology (CORE-FP). Current research is focused on bullying in prisons, prison gang behaviour, jury decision-making, child sexual offending, rape, rape proclivity, female sexual offending, theories of offender rehabilitation, firesetting, sexual harassment, violence, aggression and alcohol, and the infrahumanisation of offenders. Other areas of research include social cognition, social and moral emotion, and group process theory, all of which are applied to the study of offending behaviour or court process issues.
Forensic psychology research at Kent is funded by various national and international sources, which include: The British Academy, Economic and Social Research Council, Home Office, Leverhulme, Ministry of Justice and the Nuffield Foundation.
Research may be carried out with staff or offenders/ex-offenders in a variety of settings, including prisons, youth offender institutions, secure mental health units and probation offices. Alternatively, research may take place with students or members of the community in our newly equipped laboratories.
The School of Psychology currently includes two formally constituted research centres, representing areas of concentration and excellence in research.
The Centre for the Study of Group Processes (CSGP) was set up in 1990 to consolidate the School’s excellent international reputation for social psychological research into group processes and intergroup relations. CSGP is now a thriving international research community, including 15 full-time academic staff and a large number of research fellows and PhD students. The Centre also attracts a stream of major international group researchers, who are officially affiliated to it and visit regularly to work with our staff. The Centre also edits an international journal, Group Processes and Intergroup Relations.
The main aim of the Centre of Research and Education in Forensic Psychology is to conduct high-impact psychological research to further understand key forensic issues of social significance, and to lead to cutting-edge teaching and research opportunities for postgraduate students. Forensic psychology is an extremely popular and rapidly developing branch of psychology that seeks to understand the psychological processes underlying offending behaviour (including group processes), the reduction and supervision of offending behaviour (ie rehabilitation, treatment and management of community risk), victim responses to offending, the mechanisms underlying the criminal justice system more generally (ie jury decision-making and the courts), and attitudes to offenders and offender reintegration in society.
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Our Developmental Psychology MSc graduates commonly go into the fields of health, teaching or further education. Many of our graduates take up roles as assistant psychologists in the NHS with a view to becoming a professional clinical psychologist, or pursue doctoral study and academic careers at higher education institutions. Because the MSc Developmental Psychology programme is taught by academics and professionals, it offers students wide opportunities to pursue a variety of careers.
The programmes we offer help you to develop general critical, analytic, and problem-solving skills that can be applied in a wide range of settings. For example, last year’s graduates have taken up full-time salaried/funded positions as assistant psychologists, as PhD trainees, as healthcare advisers/workers in the private sector and in Childhood and Adolescent Mental Health Services, and as specialist charity workers.
All of our taught Master’s (MSc) programmes have been recognised by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as meeting the nationally recognised criteria for preparation training for PhD research.
The School has excellent facilities for both laboratory and field research, including advanced laboratory and teaching facilities. Resources include:
Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Psychological Bulletin; Science; Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry; Journal of Experimental Social Psychology; Journal of Personality and Social Psychology; Child Development. Details of recently published books can be found within the staff research interests.
All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.
The online application form will ask you to provide the name and email address of one academic referee from your degree-granting institution. On submission of your application, they will receive a reference request by email.
To save time, we recommend that you notify your referee in advance. Their reference should describe their impression of your academic achievements, preparedness and motivation for postgraduate study in your chosen field, and personal qualities relevant to postgraduate study.
Learn more about the applications process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.
Once started, you can save and return to your application at any time.
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