PSYCH 200 : Special Topic: Foundations of Developmental Psychology


2021 Semester One (1213) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

How do children’s minds develop, how do they work, and how do they influence children’s behaviour? Students will learn the theoretical perspectives and methods that scientists use to investigate the developing mind in infancy through late childhood. Topics of particular focus include learning and memory, concepts and categories, language, the self and identity, social cognition, attachment, and emotion.

Course Overview

This course will introduce you to the large and diverse field of developmental psychology. Broadly speaking, developmental psychology is the scientific study of constancy and change in human thought and behaviour over time. In this course we will address the following questions: 
  • What develops and when? We will learn about key aspects of human physical, social, and cognitive development from infancy through childhood. For example, what do infants know at birth? And, how does memory develop?
  • How is development measured? We will look at development from a scientific perspective, focusing on how we ask and answer research questions objectively and systematically. Different methodologies (and their advantages and limitations) will be discussed. This aspect of the course will encourage you to learn to evaluate critically the research studies and findings that are the focus of the course and to be able to think critically about science beyond this course.
  • What are the mechanisms of change? By examining the “what and when” in relation to theory and evidence, we will begin to understand how the mind and behaviour develop. Learning about the mechanisms of change will enable you to focus on synthesizing what we know about different aspects of development into a more integrated, comprehensive view of the mind.
  • What are the implications? By understanding basic mechanisms of development, we can obtain insight about practical issues. For example, how can research on memory development inform our educational practices?

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: 30 points at Stage I in Psychology

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Compare, contrast, and critically evaluate major theories and research methodologies in developmental psychology (Capability 1 and 2)
  2. Develop a more comprehensive, inclusive, and integrated view of the human mind to explain how factors ranging from biological maturation to culture shape our thoughts and behaviours (Capability 1, 2 and 6)
  3. Build on contemporary research and theory to draw implications for future research, social policy, or applied contexts (Capability 3 and 6)
  4. Develop scientific literacy, communication, and critical thinking skills to become a discerning consumer and sharer of information (Capability 2, 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Online Quiz 30% Individual Coursework
Assignments 30% Group & Individual Coursework
Final Exam 40% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4
Online Quiz
Final Exam

To gain plussage, students must (a) submit each assignment within five days of the due date, (b) obtain a passing grade of 50% overall on coursework, and (c) complete the Experiential Learning Component of the course (this involves participating in research studies or completing writing assignments). 

If you are eligible for plussage: your final grade for this course will be based either on the final exam alone marked out of 100, or on the final exam marked out of 40 plus the coursework (quiz and assignments) marked out of 60, whichever alternative gives the student the better mark.

If you are not eligible for plussage: your final grade will be based on the final exam marked out of 40 plus the coursework (quiz and assignments) marked out of 60. Thus, if you are not eligible for plussage, you are still able to sit the final exam, but your coursework will automatically count toward 60% of your final overall grade.


A Tuākana stream for the tutorial will be available for students.

Key Topics

Psychoanalytic, Learning, and Humanistic Theories 
Cognitive and Systems Theories 
Maori Perspectives on Development 
Intelligence and Creativity 
Language Development 
Self and Personality Development 
Social Cognition and Moral Development 
Attachment and Social Relationships 
Cognitive Development 
Perception, Attention, and Memory 

Special Requirements

There are no special requirements for this course.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in. 

For this course, you can expect to spend 3 hours in lectures each week, a total of 10 hours in tutorials throughout the semester, 2 to 3 hours of reading and thinking about the course content each week, and an average of approximately 3 to 4 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation each week. 

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is required at scheduled activities including tutorials to receive credit for components of the course.
Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including tutorials may not be available as recordings.
The course may include the option to participate in live online events including review sessions.
Attendance on campus is required for the test and exam.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable. 
This course is available to offshore students and students who have been exempted from in-person attendance. Different conditions will apply for these students.

Learning Resources

Sigelman, C. K., Rider, E. A., & De George-Walker L. (2019). Life Span Human Development: Australian and New Zealand Edition (3rd Ed). Cengage Learning Australia. ISBN 9780170415910 
A digital e-copy can also be purchased from UBIQ 
Please note that several copies of the text are also available in the library. 
Please note that other recommended or required resources may be made available through the Canvas course website. 

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

The contact details of the Class Representatives will be made available on Canvas but please note you are also welcome to give feedback directly to the lecturers or pop in for a chat during office hours.

Other Information

We want every student to succeed on this course and we are here to help make that possible. If you have questions about the course or the course content,  just want to go over things that weren't clear, or simply want to talk about psychology, then please come to a lecturer office hour (or contact your lecturer to schedule a time to meet), post a question to the discussion board, and or join a study group.  

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available). 

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

Under the government’s Covid-19 Alert Levels, we anticipate using the following delivery modes. Note this is subject to change depending on the specific circumstances. 
Level 1:  Delivered normally as specified in delivery mode 
Level 2: You will not be required to attend in person.  All teaching and assessment will have a remote option. 
Level 3 / 4: All teaching activities and assessments are delivered remotely 

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 04/03/2021 01:50 p.m.