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Aims and Structure

The Aims and Structure of the Course

Adopting a predominantly cognitive developmental approach, the course aims to

  • provide you with a critical understanding of the relationship between typical and atypical development;
  • give you detailed knowledge of the research findings on specific examples of atypical child development, for example, dyslexia, autistic spectrum disorders, motor co-ordination disorders, and attention deficit and hyperactivity;
  • enable you to link theoretical and practical questions through detailed study of diagnostic methods, intervention strategies and educational consequences for children;
  • train you to use developmental psychological theories to formulate research questions relevant to atypical patterns of development;
  • provide you with the skills to use appropriate quantitative and qualitative methods and to interpret quantitative and qualitative data;
  • provide you with the skills to apply theories and findings about atypical development in different employment settings.

The course will consist of six compulsory modules and a dissertation. Students will be encouraged to conduct their research with samples of children who show atypical patterns of development.

The six modules are:

Research Design and Professional Skills
This module will introduce you to different epistemological perspectives and research designs, ethical issues in planning your research and SPSS software for statistical analyses.

Principles of Qualitative Research Methods and Data Analyses
This module will introduce you to different methodological issues in designing and conducting qualitative research and equip you with the necessary skills to use the following approaches to qualitative data analyses; Grounded Theory, IPA and Discourse Analysis.

Quantitative Data Analyses
This module will provide you with the skills to conduct a range of multivariate statistical and modelling techniques (e.g., ANOVA Models, Factor Analysis, Multiple Regression, SEM) and interpret their findings.

Perspectives on Child Development
This module will address how theories of typical development have been richly informed by the study of atypical development and vice-versa. Specific topics will include the importance of early childhood experiences for development, working memory, executive functioning, the modularity of the mind, etc.

Atypical Patterns of Child Development
This module will include the study a number of the most prevalent atypical patterns of child development – dyslexia, dyscalculia, autistic spectrum disorders, motor disorders, attention deficit and hyperactivity.

Assessment and Intervention
This module will focus on practical techniques for assessing the prevalence of atypical developmental patterns. Diagnostic tests and methods, as well as a range of intervention strategies, will be examined and critiqued.