PSYCH 769 : Special Topic: Developmental Psychology: A Critical Lens


2024 Semester Two (1245) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

No prescription

Course Overview

This course positions itself at the intersection of developmental psychology, educational theory, and social justice. The course is fundamentally aimed at investigating strategies to enhance well-being, tackle disparities, and fostering environments where individuals and communities, connect and thrive. It invites students to critically analyse  and re-think a range of educational and developmental concepts, practices and theories. In particular, the course will encourage students to take a reflexive approach to their understanding of learning and development and to scrutinize and question established norms, expectations and paradigms.

The course will be of particular interest to individuals who are passionate about promoting social change and justice through education and development.  

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: People and Place
Capability 2: Sustainability
Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 7: Collaboration
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism
Graduate Profile: Master of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a critical awareness of how our stories, values and narratives about ourselves and others are influenced by social, cultural and historical contexts, media, and policy. (Capability 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8)
  2. To reflect critically on how historical and cultural narratives about development and education have impacted individuals, families/whanau, national policies and international agendas and responsibilities. (Capability 1, 3, 4 and 5)
  3. To understand and articulate the concepts of social justice, social justice research and methodologies and discuss their importance for addressing systemic inequalities and decolonization. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8)
  4. Critically evaluate and synthesise personal reflections, peer input, and scholarly sources and apply them to a contemporary issue impacting human learning and development. (Capability 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7)
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of what is meant by a critical psychology lens and apply it to human learning and development. (Capability 1, 4, 5 and 6)
  6. Demonstrate capability to engage in tough conversations with compassion and curiosity. (Capability 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Final Exam 40% Individual Examination
Essay 30% Individual Coursework
Reflection 20% Group & Individual Coursework
Participation 10% Group Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Final Exam

The exact nature of the course work assessment is to be confirmed. It is likely to be an essay and reflection piece (but note this may change). The exam will be based on the course readings, lectures and class discussions.


Tuākana Science is a multi-faceted programme for Māori and Pacific students providing topic specific tutorials, one-on-one sessions, test and exam preparation and more. Explore your options at

This course is supported by the Tuākana in Science Programme, which facilitates the success and wellbeing of our Māori and Pacific students. The foundation of the Tuākana Programme is the Tuākana-Teina principle an integral relationship in which older or more expert Tuākana (traditionally brother, sister or cousin) guides a younger or less expert Teina (traditionally younger sibling or cousin). This is a reciprocal relationship which fosters safe learning and teaching environments. Read more here:

Key Topics

Possible topics include:   wellbeing, identity, belonging, values, conceptions of childhood, parenting and family, resilience, norms and expectations, bullying, racism, justice, NZ policy, labels and deficit theorising, success and failure, listening and messaging for justice.

Special Requirements

No special requirements

Workload Expectations

This course is a 15 point course 700-level course.  Students are expected to spend 10 hours per week working on each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 2-3 hours of class time per week. There will be readings to do BEFORE each class.  This means that students are expected to spend approximately 7-8 hours each week (spread throughout the semester) reading, thinking and reflecting on the course content and preparing for the next class, assignments and/or exam.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

The 2-3 hour classes are designed to be highly participatory, and involve group work.

 The course is therefore not suitable for online delivery to offshore students.  In exceptional circumstances, where teaching moves online, attendance is expected for online lectures and the symposium.  

Lectures if given, will be recorded where possible, but only made available on request. 

The course is mostly discussion (based on the readings done BEFORE class) so much of the content will not be able to be captured through a lecture recording. Attendance at class is therefore critical and a role will be kept.

The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable. 

Some in class time will likely be allowed for group work related to the assignments.

Learning 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.

Reading lists will be posted on Canvas for each week.  There are required readings, and optional readings.  The reading list includes book chapters, papers, news items and audio-visual material.  Other resources will be added during some weeks.  All students will be notified of additional resources via Canvas announcements.

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 feedback on this course to date has been excellent. Some students said they were not expecting the course to have such a strong critical and reflexive lens, but they indicated that they really enjoyed this approach once they knew what it was, noting they liked how it was different to other courses they had taken. While we have not managed to change the official course description in the university calendar to highlight our approach, we have tried to make it clear in this course outline. 

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 for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


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 course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

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 students may be asked to submit 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. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 07/11/2023 08:09 a.m.