Key Facts

Course Title: Child Development
Course type: MSc
Mode of Study:Full Time or Part Time
Contact Details:Bev Davies
Website: Go to School homepage
Faculty: Faculty of Natural Sciences
Subject Area: Psychology


 ****  Application deadline is 31st May 2018  ****

The MSc in Child Development is designed to prepare psychology graduates for the next stage of their career in research or applied areas of psychology. 

Keele has a vibrant, well-established and ever-expanding community of researchers in child development. Students will benefit from their expertise across a wide range of areas including child social development (e.g. bullying and peer relationships), child cognitive development (e.g. theory of mind, attention in autism and ADHD) and education (e.g. girls and Psychology PG image science and enhancing collaborative learning in the classroom). MSc students are made to feel part of this research culture both through the formal modules and through involvement in research seminars and meetings.

Students become members of the new Children and Young People’s Research Network through which the teaching of the advanced study module is delivered.


Key features of your MSc programme in psychology will include: 

· Strong focus on your personal skills development throughout the course to help you pursue your career goals

· Opportunities to pursue your personal interests with expert support

· A broad range of research methods training to maximise your employability skills

· Small group specialist teaching in your chosen field from research-active tutors

· A large cohort of MSc students sharing the core modules provides a lively and supportive peer community



Aims of the Course

The programme provides taught content and research training in a range of areas in Child Development, building on areas of staff research expertise. Strengths include: children’s peer relationships, e.g. bullying in schools, teenage relationship abuse; eye movements in children with autism and ADHD; children’s face recognition; interrogative interviewing of vulnerable child witnesses; children’s use of humour; social influences on learning, such as how teachers use feedback in the classroom; how to promote collaborative learning; factors that influence children’s subject choices, e.g. girls and science; children’s musical development and engagement; and parenting, e.g. interactions at family mealtimes.

We have well-established links with local schools and have created research partnerships where students come to the university to experience learning in a university setting as well as allowing our students to gain valuable experience working and collecting data in a school setting. We also run the project White Water Writers which gives groups of young people the chance to write and publish their own full length novel in a week. We work with local primary, secondary, SEN and other youth groups such as with looked after children, and MSc students are given the opportunity to take the lead in running this project.

The overall aims of all our MSc Psychology programmes are as follows:

  • To equip you to formulate and conduct psychological research projects;
  • To develop your knowledge of different theoretical perspectives, philosophical traditions and methodological approaches to psychology;
  • To enable you to understand the strengths and weaknesses of different research methods and different forms of data, and to evaluate their appropriateness for different research problems;
  • To enable you to define and formulate research questions and testable hypotheses, and to design appropriate research to answer these questions using relevant methods of data collection, consistent with British Psychological Society principles of ethics and research governance;
  • To provide you with knowledge of quantitative and qualitative approaches to research and data analysis techniques;
  • To provide you with a range of opportunities to engage with advanced research in substantive areas relevant to their own research topic and to the discipline of psychology;
  • To provide you with opportunities to enhance and develop your written and communication skills, independent learning skills, and critical reflection and evaluation skills.

You will develop these skills in the context of your chosen specialism.

Entry Requirements

This course is open to graduates with a first or upper second-class degree in psychology (or a cognate discipline with some psychology study) or equivalent. International students are very welcome, but will require IELTS 7.0 overall with 6.0 in each subtest. 

Course Content

Our MSc Psychology programmes are designed to foster a vibrant and collaborative peer culture amongst our MSc students. Several of our modules are shared by all four of our MSc psychology programmes. We also know it’s vital that you develop the advanced specialised skills you will need to pursue careers in your chosen fields. Throughout your MSc degree you are supported and encouraged to focus your work to help you conduct in-depth explorations of your specialist subjects and personal interests.

You will undertake a double weighted Advanced Study module in MSc Child Development (30 Credits).

The teaching for this module is delivered through the new Children and Young People’s Research Network. The module aims to deepen students’ knowledge and understanding of key concepts, theories and research evidence on child development and to develop their critical awareness of current issues and new insights in this area of psychological research. There is a key focus on the ethical and practical issues associated with conducting research with children and young people. Topics can include: children’s humour, children and face perception, children and advertising, bullying in schools.

All MSc Psychology undertake the following core modules designed to help you engage with the pluralistic nature of psychology and understand the broader field within which your specialised interest sits:

  • Contemporary Research in Psychology (15 credits)
  • Advanced Research Skills and Design (15 credits)
  • Advanced Quantitative Data Analysis (15 credits)
  • Research Apprenticeship in Psychology (15 credits) 

In addition to the core modules all students can tailor their research methods training to suit their needs and interests by choosing one of the following option modules:

  • Qualitative Research Methods (15 credits)
  • Advanced Cognitive Neuroscience Research Methods (15 credits)

Research is a key emphasis in our programmes and you will be supported by a specialist tutor in your chosen field to undertake original research as part of the Research Preparation (15 credits) and Dissertation (60 credits) modules. 

Teaching and Assessment

Each module has different prescribed learning activities, including formal lectures and seminars, discussions and consultation with staff. You should expect some lively debates and interesting discussions. Please be aware that you will be expected to contribute to the programme, in the form of advance reading (of which there is a substantial amount), preparing presentations and contributing to discussions in seminars, and bringing your own ideas to bear on the teaching material.

The programme is assessed through a range of formats including:

  • Blog portfolios
  • Personal skills audits
  • Research Critiques
  • Lab Reports
  • Unseen exams and class tests
  • Verbal presentations
  • Independent research written up as a dissertation.

Full time and part time students all study together for the taught/seminar/class discussion elements of the programmes, but in certain modules part-time students have more extended deadlines to enable them to complete work without placing too much burden on them.  Attendance is compulsory at all teaching sessions.

In order to obtain an MSc degree, every student is required to obtain 180 M level credits:

  • Full time students complete the course in 1 year (51 weeks). In order to obtain an MSc degree, students are required to obtain 180 M level credits, including a 60-credit dissertation.
  • Part time students complete the course in 2 years (103 weeks), taking 90 credits in each year.

A Postgraduate Certificate is available for students who have completed 60 credits of their programme and a Postgraduate Diploma is available for students who have completed 120 credits of their programme. There are no restrictions on which modules need to be passed.

On the Advanced Study module you get to choose the topic to focus on for the Critique. Previous topics have included: the influence of siblings; the intergenerational transmission of violence; whether attachment in childhood is fixed; the implications of a ‘growth mind-set’; Theory of Mind and Autism; the interplay between child temperament and parenting. For the group report, you work together in small groups to devise an intervention to bring about behavioural change. This year’s projects include: a schools-based mental health intervention, a domestic abuse prevention education programme for primary-age children; and an App for children at risk of exclusion to help manage their emotions. 

Additional Costs

Apart from additional costs for textbooks, inter-library loans and potential overdue library fines we do not anticipate any additional costs for this postgraduate programme. Limited support is available for research-related expenses.

For information on fees please see the latest information here for taught postgraduate fees.

There are a number of bursaries on offer to both home and overseas postgraduate students. Please see this page for more information.

MSc Psychology students can bid for funding support to attend conferences or other extra-curricular activities to support their studies or present their research.

Many of our MSc graduates go on to take up positions working with children and young people, register for professional psychology training (e.g. educational psychology) or a PhD in psychology.

Charlotte Bagnall

Charlotte Bagnall

"Overall, pursuing a masters not only gave me time to critically reflect on what I want to do with my future, but skills, opportunities and insight into other very tantalising prospects which combine my two passions: psychological research and teaching, which in essence has helped me to get to where I am today."

MSc Child Development