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Developmental Psychology in Action MSc

Learn about the course below
October 2022
1 year full-time
2 years part-time
£9,400 (UK/EU) *
£14,500 (INT) *
Course leader
Gemma Reynolds
Fabia Franco

This course is no longer accepting applications for October 2021 entry. The next start date will be 2022.

Developmental Psychology is the scientific study of how and why individuals change over time, with a focus on infancy, childhood and adolescence. Applying our knowledge of developmental psychology in real world settings is crucial and has positively impacted a variety of sectors including education, health, clinical and social settings.

Why study MSc Developmental Psychology in Action at Middlesex University?

This master's degree will equip you with the skills to engage critically with the core theory and research in developmental psychology and psychopathology, while providing a critical understanding of the relationship between theory, research and practice. You'll gain the skills to work effectively with the developmental population, particularly in teaching learning and education, mental health, health and community settings, and for further postgraduate training.

Focusing on key issues, theories and topical research in relation to the application of developmental psychology to real-world settings, this course is uniquely cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary.

You will benefit from the experience of our dedicated and enthusiastic staff, as well as state-of-the-art facilities for teaching and research, including the baby lab (dedicated to infant research), with observation facilities, AV digital support, sound-isolating booth and Tobii eye-tracking.

This programme is ideally suited to those who may wish to extend their research interests to doctoral level or who work in developmental settings. This course also has step-off points at Postgraduate Diploma and Postgraduate Certificate levels.

Course highlights

  • Gain a unique focus on the application of developmental psychology knowledge to real-world settings
  • Benefit from the expertise of our teaching staff who are leading researchers in developmental psychology, neuroscience and quantitative research
  • Carry out an original research project in the field of developmental psychology
  • As a student of this programme, you will receive a free electronic textbook for every module

*Please note, this course is subject to validation

Find out more

Sign up now to receive more information about studying at Middlesex University London.

What you will study on the MSc Developmental Psychology in Action

This programme will equip you to critically evaluate contemporary theory and research in developmental psychology and consider areas of application to real-world settings. You will gain a critical understanding of the spectrum of child development, including key issues concerning core and extended topics covered in developmental psychopathology.

You will develop your understanding of quantitative research techniques and research designs in developmental psychology, embedded by theoretical perspective, as well as challenges associated with conducting research with infants and children.

You will graduate with a ‘toolbox’ of knowledge that will enable you to develop a portfolio of research skills specifically relevant for working with the developmental population and related environments.

You'll focus on:

  • Critically evaluating contemporary developmental psychology research
  • Developing skills in research design, data collection with developmental populations, and statistical analysis of data
  • Acquiring skills that allow you to carry out an original research project in an area of developmental psychology of your choice
  • Specific ethical issues surrounding developmental research
  • Modules

    • Topics and Applied Issues in Developmental and Educational Psychology (15 credits) - Compulsory

      This module will give you a critical understanding of key issues concerning the application of developmental psychology to some applied settings including education, health and social settings. You'll develop in-depth interdisciplinary understanding both with disciplines germane to psychology (neuroscience and education) and in novel perspectives such as arts, health and wellbeing. You'll also critically evaluate relevant theories and topical research in relation to the application of developmental psychology to real-world settings while also considering the important implications of developmental psychology for policy-makers.

    • Developmental Disorders and Psychopathology (15 credits) - Compulsory

      This module will develop your understanding of core theory and both classic and contemporary research in the field of developmental psychopathology. You'll explore the interaction of emotional, cognitive, biological, behavioural and environmental factors in the development of developmental disorders and atypical development, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, anxiety disorders, impairments in language learning, attachment disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, trauma-related disorders, learning disorders and conduct disorder.

    • Developmental Neuroscience (15 credits) - Compulsory

      This module will give you an understanding of the developing relationship between human brain and behaviour. It will draw on evidence from physiological, cognitive and neuroscientific research to examine the development of key cognitive processes including sensory processing, learning and memory, language, action perception and production, and emotion processing at different stages of life.

    • Trauma Impacts and Interventions (30 credits) - Compulsory

      In this module, you will develop a critical understanding of current research evidence and perspectives on psychological trauma and its effects. You will review the impact of trauma on different groups and at different stages of the lifespan and critically examine the models of intervention for psychological trauma. You will also explore the current debates around ameliorating factors and developmental outcomes.

    • Research Methods 1 – Quantitative (15 credits) - Compulsory

      This module extends your undergraduate knowledge of research methods, design and statistics and prepares you for your dissertation and forthcoming supervised practice. It will enable you to choose appropriate methodologies and analyses for research.

    • Research: Practice & Reporting (60 credits) - Compulsory

      This module will give you the opportunity for an in-depth, advanced study in a specific area of applied psychology. You will apply appropriate principles of empirical research, and present your research study in the form of a written journal article, using appropriate styles and conventions.

    • Foundations of Neuropsychology (15 credits) - Compulsory

      This module will introduce advanced level study of topics in neuropsychology, with a particular focus on cognitive neuropsychology. The foundations of the approach will be outlined, followed by examination of neuropsychological case studies and related research in several areas of cognition, including memory, language processing, and visual and perceptual disorders. You will also be encouraged to develop a critical awareness of the controversies that exist within this field and how these link to controversies in neuroscience.

    • Open Science (15 credits) - Compulsory

      The “reproducibility crisis” in Psychology (and in science more generally) has been vigorously debated in recent years in terms of its existence, nature, causes and possible solutions.  Many changes to research practice have as a result been introduced and proposed, commonly referred to collectively as “Open Science”. You'll be able to familiarise yourself with these debates so that you can navigate your way through these rapidly developing changes.

You can find more information about this course in the programme specification. Optional modules are not offered on every course. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, or there are staffing changes which affect the teaching, it may not be offered. If an optional module will not run, we will advise you after the module selection period when numbers are confirmed, or at the earliest time that the programme team make the decision not to run the module, and help you choose an alternative module.

How is the MSc Developmental Psychology in Action taught?

You will attend laboratory sessions, lectures, seminars and workshops, where you will take part in class discussions, and work on research projects, group assignments and critical analyses.

You will supplement all this with your own independent study and will submit a dissertation.

There is a specific module on research methods, and the course also aims to improve your analytical, statistics and IT skills.


A major part of your assessment will be your 10,000 to 15,000-word dissertation, which will be accompanied by a 1,500-word research proposal and a 10-minute presentation, on which you will receive feedback from fellow students as well as your tutor.

Other forms of assessment will include tests, projects, statistical assignments, essays, presentations and reports. You will receive regular feedback on your work, including your assessed coursework and your dissertation.

Changes for students in 2021

If you have travel restrictions to the UK due to coronavirus, this course can be started fully online with support to learn from your home country for the first term.

We are back on campus for the majority of teaching in Autumn 2021, as long as restrictions allow. Your timetable will be built around on campus sessions using our professional facilities, with online sessions for some activities where we know being virtual will add value. We’ll use technology to enhance all of your learning and give you access to online resources to use in your own time.

In case of any changes to government guidance, we‘ll be ready to move to teaching with more restrictions in place and continue to give you an excellent learning experience. In this scenario, on campus teaching should continue although more of your course will take place online.

The table below gives you an idea of what your learning will look like across a typical week. Some weeks might be different due to how we schedule classes and arrange on campus sessions.

This information may change slightly as we receive further guidance from the government. You’ll receive final arrangements for your teaching and a full course timetable before you start.

Scenario A: Without social distancing

Live in-person on campus learning

Contact hours per week, per level:

6 hours

Live online learning

Average hours per week, per level:

4 hours

Tutor set learning activities

Average hours per week, per level:

3 hours

Scenario B: With social distancing and/or with restrictions on travel to campus

Live in-person on campus learning

Contact hours per week, per level:

5 hours

Live online learning

Average hours per week, per level:

5 hours

Tutor set learning activities

Average hours per week, per level:

3 hours

Outside of these hours, you’ll be expected to do independent study where you read, listen and reflect on other learning activities. This can include preparation for future classes. In a year, you’ll typically be expected to commit 1800 hours to your course across all styles of learning. If you are taking a placement, you might have some additional hours.

Read more about our scenarios for returning to campus and what they might mean for your teaching and learning experience, and how you’ll be able to access student support.

Future plans for teaching

We’re developing our plans for in-person on campus teaching following government advice to keep you safe. If more restrictions are put in place in the future, or there is another lockdown, we’ll deliver your learning and support fully online for a temporary period. We’ll make alternative arrangements for any required placements if they can’t go ahead as planned. We’ll always give you notice of any changes that we make.

Definitions of terms

  • Live in-person on campus learning – This will focus on active and experiential sessions that are both:
    • Led by your tutors including seminars, lab sessions and demonstrations We’ll schedule all of this for you
    • Student-led by you and other students, like small group work and presentations.
  • Live online learning – This will include lectures, tutorials and supervision sessions led by your tutor and timetabled by us. It also includes student-led group work that takes place online

  • Tutor set learning activities – This covers activities which will be set for you by your tutor, but which you will undertake in your own time. Examples of this include watching online materials, participating in an online discussion forum, completing a virtual laboratory or reading specific texts. You may be doing this by yourself of with your course mates depending on your course and assignments. Outside of these hours, you’ll also be expected to do further independent study where you’ll be expected to learn, prepare, revise and reflect in your own time.


You’ll have a strong support network available to you to make sure you develop all the necessary academic skills you need to do well on your course.

Our support services will be delivered online and on campus and you’ll have access to a range of different resources so you can get the help you need, whether you’re studying at home or have the opportunity to come to campus.

You’ll have access to one to one and group sessions for personal learning and academic support from our library and IT teams, and our network of learning experts. Our teams will also be here to offer financial advice, and personal wellbeing, mental health and disability support.

More on teaching and learning in 2021/22

Read our guide to what you can look forward to when you study your subject with us including more information about your teaching experience this autumn.

  1. Standard entry requirements
  2. International (inc. EU)
  3. How to apply
  1. UK
  2. EU fees from October 2021
  3. EU/International
  4. Additional costs

How can the MSc Developmental Psychology in Action support your career?

With the strong combination of contemporary and applied child psychology, the programme paves the way to a wide range of careers and employment contexts.

It is particularly targeted at individuals wishing to pursue careers with the developmental population, particularly child practitioners, cognitive neuropsychological assessment, mental health services, health and community settings, teaching and education, as well as academic research and other related real-world settings requiring further PG training (e.g. paediatric clinical neuropsychology, PhD).

The programme is designed for students who wish to apply for further PhD studies in Psychology/Human Development, Educational Psychology/Neuroscience or who plan to progress to Clinical Doctoral and Post-Graduate training with a focus on the developmental population.

Dr Gemma Reynolds
Senior lecturer

Dr. Reynolds’ key research interests lie within atypical childhood development, with a particular focus on cognitive and learning mechanisms. Currently, her research focuses on two main areas. Firstly, investigating the development of emotions such as fear, anxiety and disgust during childhood, exploring mechanisms and mediating factors associated with the development of such emotions, and identifying interventions that could be used to prevent such emotions developing in a dysfunctional way. Secondly, exploring the associative mechanisms and remediation of stimulus over-selectivity; a common characteristic of individuals with autism spectrum conditions, general learning disabilities, and acquired neurological damage. She is a Co-Director of Research in the Psychology department and an advocate of experimental research designs.

Dr Fabia Franco
Senior lecturer

Dr Franco’s main research focus is on infant communication and the development of language. In the course of her career she has studied the development of a first sound-meaning system based on nonsegmental features in infant prelinguistic vocalisations; infant-directed speech; and joint attention. More recently she has begun to study the relationship between language and music in the development of human communication. She established the Middlesex babyLab, a research laboratory dedicated to infant research, and the Music Cognition and Communication Lab, which studies various areas on interaction between music cognition and communication across the lifespan. She is also interested in a number of other aspects of developmental psychology concerning young children's cognition and emotion in typical and atypical groups.

Dr Franco is an advocate of science and arts interdisciplinary research, which you can find out more about at the Music Cognition Communication Lab.

Professor Antonia Bifulco
Professor in Psychology

Professor Bifulco’s research is focused on social and lifespan influences on psychological disorder and she has investigated childhood experience, adversity and attachment style intergenerationally. She is an advocate of intensive interview measures and together with the CATS team runs training courses for researchers and practitioners on attachment style, childhood neglect/abuse and parenting.

We’ll carefully manage any future changes to courses, or the support and other services available to you, if these are necessary because of things like changes to government health and safety advice, or any changes to the law.

Any decisions will be taken in line with both external advice and the University’s Regulations which include information on this.

Our priority will always be to maintain academic standards and quality so that your learning outcomes are not affected by any adjustments that we may have to make.

At all times we’ll aim to keep you well informed of how we may need to respond to changing circumstances, and about support that we’ll provide to you.

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