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The Developing Child - A Social Perspective


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor: Ana Da Cunha Lewin
  • Assessment: two 1500-word pieces of coursework, such as essays, case studies, reports or class presentations

Module description

This module aims to provide a more detailed understanding of the experience of childhood by exploring key developmental milestones, psychological, social and cultural processes, life events and rites of passage introduced in The Developing Child - A Psychological Perspective.

Indicative module content

Building on the understanding gained in The Developing Child - A Psychological Perspective, this module focuses on further exploring the internal (psychological) and external (social) factors that shape the experience of infancy, childhood and adolescence and the ways these are expressed in children’s and young people’s behaviours and interactions.

  • Understanding early childhood (0-7): the ways in which babies and young children communicate and express their individuality, the main developmental milestones that underpin their understandings of the world and of themselves and their ways of relating to others. Indicative themes include bonding and relationships with siblings and others during infancy, dependence and the first signs of individuality, transition to school, peer groups, early signs of identity, learning, motivation and managing conflict. This part ends by examining the significant role of the context (socio-cultural environment) in shaping young children’s experiences. It looks into different cultural understandings of childhood and the ways these influence different practices.
  • Understanding middle childhood (8-12): the experiences of school-aged and pre-adolescent children. This part explores learning and motivation, peer relationships, power relationships, aggression and bullying, emerging identity, gender and the onset of puberty. It also considers the roles and positions that children occupy in society and the extent to which their voices are heard and they participate in decision making. Finally, the role of time and place, in shaping the experience of childhood, are considered by examining the beliefs and practices of different cultural settings.
  • Understanding late childhood (13-18): the processes and experiences of young people. This part considers adolescents’ sense of self, autonomy and independence versus dependence, sexuality, relationships, learning and motivation, transitions, young people’s cultures and rights, and ends by examining the role and position of young people in different cultural settings.

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • recognise the interplay of psychological, social and cultural processes and also the life experiences that are characteristic of and experienced during different childhood stages
  • appreciate the ways such experiences influence personality and behaviour
  • explain the central developmental milestones that impact on children’s understandings of their worlds
  • appreciate the formative effects of social factors such as familial influences, interactions with siblings and peers and the process of socialisation on childhood experiences
  • critically analyse the rites of passage and social transitions in shaping children’s experiences, emotions and behaviours
  • critically assess the roles and positions of children in the West, drawing on the children’s rights framework
  • evaluate the role of time and place in shaping childhood experiences by contrasting between different cultural contexts.