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Educational Psychology


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor: Ana da Cunha Lewin
  • Assessment: a one-hour written examination (70%) and a 1500-word essay (30%)

Module description

In this module we introduce you to the study of educational psychology and to key issues around special educational needs and the contribution of psychological research in this area.

We will discuss classic and modern psychological approaches to cognitive and social development, with specific reference to learning and education, and evaluate current psychological research in education, including the challenges and ethical constraints of research involving children and young people. We will also consider how such psychological research can be effectively applied in educational settings, with a particular focus on the work of educational psychologists.

Indicative syllabus

  • Introduction and overview: what is educational psychology, the role of educational psychologists, an overview of theories of social and cognitive development and their application in this context, educational psychology research and evidence-based practice
  • Cognitive development and learning: metacognition and thinking; literacy; mathematics and scientific understanding
  • Psychological factors influencing educational engagement and attainment (e.g. motivation or personality or intelligence)
  • Emotional and social factors influencing educational engagement and attainment (e.g. family context and parental attitude or gender or relationships with peers)
  • Environmental factors influencing educational engagement and attainment (e.g. teacher effects or the impact of the physical environment on classroom interaction or school effectiveness)
  • Special educational needs: specific learning difficulties (e.g. dyslexia or other language disorders or ADHD)
  • Special educational needs: learning disabilities (e.g. autism or Down’s Syndrome or other conditions)
  • Review, evaluation and integration of key themes and issues: addressing educational disadvantage and raising educational attainment

Learning objectives

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

  • understand a range of psychological research methods, concepts and theories within educational psychology
  • display awareness of psychological, emotional, social and environmental factors which influence learning, including the role of neurobiological components
  • display awareness of links between theory, research evidence, education policy and practice in both mainstream and special needs education
  • understand how education psychologists assess children and young people and then plan appropriate interventions
  • understand, interpret and evaluate relevant research and other reports.