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Understanding children's development and learning, Short Course

  • Application Deadline
  • 12 months
University rank #501 (WUR) Online
This Understanding children's development and learning module from The Open University UK is for people working with children and young people and looks at children's development and learning in cultural, educational and social contexts.


It explains how theoretical and methodological frameworks contribute to understanding developmental change and how psychological research can inform educational and clinical practice. You will learn about how children actively contribute and shape their own development through meaningful interaction with others and how the study of atypical development and individual difference contributes to theory and practice. You will also carry out a small-scale, observational study and will design an extended research proposal relevant to your own professional interests.

This Understanding children's development and learning module from The Open University UK is designed for teachers and others interested in psychological accounts of children’s development and learning, and those who work with children and young people in a professional capacity. It invites you to engage with contemporary accounts and theories of children’s development and to consider how these are relevant to educational practice. The module addresses the following questions:

  • What significant processes occur in infancy for development and learning?
  • In what way is play with other children important during the early years?
  • What are the important changes in children’s thinking and problem solving as they get older?
  • Why is collaborative learning important for children’s development?
  • How do cognitive theories of development help us to understand children’s learning difficulties?
  • What can current theories about children’s learning and development contribute to the development of new teaching and learning methods in schools?

This module is for those are interested in finding out how developmental psychologists and educational researchers set out to answer such questions. It will appeal to parents, teachers and other professionals wanting to find out about what psychological research can tell us about children’s development and learning. It will also be of interest to people who want to deepen their understanding of children’s learning difficulties, and those interested in the impact of new computer and web-based technologies on education. You will be able to choose to study the module materials that interest you the most, whilst also meeting the assessment requirements.

This module will help you understand the main theoretical accounts, and research findings that attempt to explain children’s social, cognitive and emotional development from early infancy through the school years. The module also invites you to consider key debates about the applications of research on children’s development, and to consider how these inform decisions about educational and social practices that shape children’s experiences at home and at school.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity Part-time
    • Average part-time duration 12 months
  • Credits
    60 alternative credits
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode

Programme Structure

  • You will consider how babies and young children actively shape their own experiences through meaningful interaction with other people in family and preschool environments.
  • You will consider how different cultural practices relating to parenting and children’s socialisation challenge traditional theories of child development.
  • You will learn about children’s thinking and about how this changes and develops.
  • You will study the observational research methods psychologists use to study children’s development and learning and apply your understanding to design and carry out your own small-scale study that will investigate learning processes.

English Language Requirements

This programme may require students to demonstrate proficiency in English.

Academic Requirements

  • You must hold a bachelors degree from a UK university or other recognised degree-awarding body, or a qualification at equivalent level.
  • We have designed the module to be accessible to all students working at masters level. Knowledge of psychology is not essential, though if you have already taken child development courses that will clearly be an asset. An understanding of research design and the research methods used in education and/or psychology will be an advantage.
  • The module is taught in English, and your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study, as you will need to read and understand original journal articles written in English.

Work Experience

You are expected to have some experience in education or an allied field, but you need not be a practising teacher. You do not need access to an educational institution, but you will need child or adult participants for the small-scale study.

Tuition Fee


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