Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu


[SI0036] - Human Development

Module Code: SI0036
Module Leader: Gabrielle Ivinson Year: 2
Semester: Both
Number of Credits: 20
Recommended 1st Year Modules: SI0197

Teaching Method: Lectures and seminars, supplemented by private study. Seminars will focus on conducting small empirical research projects.
Assessment: Written examination (seen) 2 hours (50%) - Autumn Semester; Coursework (essays) 3500 words (50%) - Spring Semester
Degree Schemes: Education; Social Science; BPS Routes

Module Aims

To develop a critical understanding of major theories of human development and to be able to draw on these theories to describe and evaluate the influence of social relations such as peer collaboration, friendship groups, social identities and how people learn in everyday and school contexts.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Comprehension

  • Demonstrate an awareness of human development as a psychological process
  • Demonstrate an awareness of some of the main theories of human development, their usefulness in terms of explanatory power to address social change and learning in numerous social contexts
  • Demonstrate an awareness of research evidence and how this can be used to support or to criticise some of the major theories of human development.

Skills (Application and Analysis)

  • A capacity to interpret a range of sources of information about psychological aspects of human development.
  • A capacity to recognise diversity in types of information on psychological aspects of human development.
  • Present a sound line of argument in an essay on a human development topic.
  • Evaluate a theoretical approach by comparing it with a different theoretical approach.  

Understanding (Synthesis and Evaluation)

  • Adopt a critical standpoint on various psychological theories of human development.
  • Describe and evaluate the possibilities and limitations of some of the major theories of human development with respect to lifelong learning.
  • Adopt a critical standpoint on research evidence in relation to some major theories of human development.

Transferable Skills

The module will contribute to the development of the following transferable skills: critical thinking through a study of major theories of human development and through the ability to evaluate a theoretical perspective by drawing on empirical research.  Students will be expected to take an active role in seminars and their own fieldwork.

Synopsis of Module Content

This course provides an historical overview of some key concepts in developmental sciences and explores several conceptual possibilities for understanding and researching ontogenetic development.  It provides grounding in classical developmental theories and in contemporary theorizing and research in this area.  It considers different approaches to life-span development and the various ways to conceptualize the life course that take account of how new understandings of society push people to become active agents in their own learning throughout their entire life course.  It explores neo-Vygotskian approaches to learning and learning that takes place throughout the entire life course.  It encourages students to undertake fieldwork in social learning settings and to use this practical work as the basis for developing understandings of conceptual and theoretical issues.

Arrangements for Feedback on Work

Written and oral feedback will be given on  assessed work.  

Indicative Reading

Daniels, H.R (2005)  An Introduction to Vygotsky. London: Routledge.

Gruber, H.E., Voneche, J.J. (1995).  The Essential Piaget: An Interpretative Reference and Guide.  Northvale, New Jersey and London: Jason Aronson.

Kozulin, A. (1990).  Vygotsky’s Psychology: A Biography of Ideas. Cambridge, CUP.

Magnusson, D. & Cairns, R.B. (1996) Developmental science: Toward a unified framework. In R.B. Cairns, E.J. Costello & G.H. Elder (eds) Developmental science (pp 7-30) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tryphon, A., Voneche, J. (eds.) (2001).  Working with Piaget: Essays in Honour of Barbel Inhelder.   Hove:  Taylor and Francis Group.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978).  Mind in Society: The development of higher mental processes . Harvard: Harvard University Press.

Vygotsky, L. (1988).  Thought and Language.  Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press.

Walkerdine, V. (1993) Beyond developmentalism?  Theory & Psychology, 3(4), 451-469

Wertsch, J. V. (1985) Vygotsky and the social formation of mind.  Harvard, Mass.: HUP.