Perspectives in Child Development

The details
Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 27 June 2025
16 March 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA L520 Childhood Studies,
BA L521 Childhood Studies (Including Year Abroad),
BA L522 Childhood Studies (Including Placement Year),
BA L523 Childhood Studies (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

This module offers an introduction to perspectives in child development and includes an emphasis on therapeutic approaches.

The module proceeds historically, beginning with the advent of developmental conceptions of the mind in the nineteenth century and continuing into contributions of developmental psychology in the 20th and 21st centuries, including psychoanalytic and psychodynamic theories.

Beginning this module, you will consider the theoretical contributions made by some of the key developmental theorists, including Freud, Erickson, Skinner, Piaget, Bronfenbrenner, Vygotsky, Bowlby, and Klein. Following this, you will explore some concepts central to understanding child development, including birth, play, and sociality. The module will conclude with a consideration of the limitations of developmental psychology. To this end, we will read critiques of developmentalism made by scholars in feminist theory, critical race studies, cultural studies, dis/ability studies, and post-colonial studies. The final week of this module considers both developmental theories and critiques of them in terms of potential therapeutic interventions.

You will have the chance to consider, evaluate and debate this range of perspectives which will be fundamental to your learning in other modules in Childhood Studies.

Module aims

The aims of the module are:
1. To explore a variety of theoretical perspectives in child development, and to identify the distinctiveness of each theoretical perspective
2. To gain knowledge of how psychoanalytic and psychodynamic theories are used to understand child development
3. To recognise how areas of developmental psychological understanding have been extended to clinical and therapeutic applications
4. To articulate the shortcomings of developmental perspectives as elaborated by critical perspectives like feminist and post-colonial theory

Module learning outcomes

On completion of the module:

1. Students will gain an understanding of diverse perspectives in child development and be able to identify their foci and implications
2. Students will be able to identify the contributions of psychoanalytic theories (e.g., Freud, Erickson, Bowlby, Klein) to understanding child development
3. Students will be able to critically compare and assess a number of theories and perspectives
4. Students will be able to asses both the contributions and the limitations of developmental perspectives

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

20 x 1 hour lecture 20 x 1 hour discussion seminar


  • Piaget, Jean. (c1980) 'The Thought of the Young Child', in Six psychological studies, Brighton: Harvester Press., pp.77-87
  • Crowley, Kevin. (c[2016) 'Theories of development', in An introduction to child development, Los Angeles: SAGE., pp.23-48
  • Mitchell, Juliet. (1986) 'Introduction', in The selected Melanie Klein, Harmondsworth: Penguin., pp.9-34
  • CastaƱeda, Claudia. (2002) 'Developmentalism and the Child in Nineteenth-Century Science', in Figurations: child, bodies, worlds, Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press., pp.12-45
  • Blades, Mark. (2015) 'Play', in Understanding children's development, Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., pp.230-249
  • Skinner, B. F. (1993, c1974) About behaviorism, London: Penguin.
  • Bronfenbrenner, Urie. (1981) The ecology of human development: experiments by nature and design, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
  • Lareau, Annette. (2011) 'Class Differences in Parents' Information and Intervention in the Lives of Young Adults', in Unequal childhoods: class, race, and family life, Berkeley: University of California Press., pp.263-311
  • 188, 182. (c[2016) 'Theories of cognitive development', in An introduction to child development, Los Angeles: SAGE.
  • Klein, Melanie. (1998) 'Early Stages of the Oedipus Conflict', in Love, guilt, and reparation, and other works, 1921-1945, London: Vintage., pp.186-198
  • Cole, Sheila. (2018) 'Contexts of Development', in The development of children, New York, NY: Worth Publishers/ Macmillan education., pp.329-367
  • Akbar, Na'im. (2002) 'Our Destiny: Authors of a Scientific Revolution', in Black children: Social, educational, and parental environments, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage., pp.17-31
  • Freud, Sigmund; Strachey, James. (1962) Three essays on the theory of sexuality, London: Hogarth. vol. no. 57
  • Cole, Sheila. (2018) 'The Study of Human Development', in The development of children, New York, NY: Worth Publishers/ Macmillan education., pp.1-45
  • Tag, M. (2012) 'Universalizing Early Childhood: History, forms, and logics', in Childhoods at the intersection of the local and the global, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan., pp.34-55
  • Oates, J.; Hoghughi, M; Dallos, R. (1995) 'Child therapies', in Influencing children's development, Cambridge, Mass: Blackwell in association with the Open University. vol. 4
  • Tronick, Edward Z.; Morelli, Gilda A.; Ivey, Paula K. (1992) 'The Efe forager infant and toddler's patterns of social relationships', in Developmental Psychology. vol. 28 (4) , pp.568-577
  • Crowley, Kevin. (c[2016) 'Social development', in An introduction to child development, Los Angeles: SAGE., pp.277-308
  • Crowley, Kevin. (c[2016) 'Theories of development', in An introduction to child development, Los Angeles: SAGE., pp.31-34
  • Lack, Caleb W.; Abramson, Charles I. (2014) 'Race, Psychology, and Scientific Racism', in Psychology Gone Astray: a selection of racist & sexist literature from early psychological research, Fareham: Onus Books., pp.5-18
  • Bamberger, Joan. (1974) 'Family Structure and Feminine Personality', in Woman, culture, and society, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press., pp.45-65
  • Erikson, Erik H. (1993) 'Eight Ages of Man', in Childhood and society, New York: Norton., pp.247-274
  • Holder, Alex. (1995) 'Anna Freud's contribution to the psychoanalytic theory of development', in Journal of Child Psychotherapy. vol. 21 (3) , pp.326-346
  • Chodorow, Nancy. (c1978) 'The Relation to the Mother and the Mothering Relation', in The reproduction of mothering: psychoanalysis and the sociology of gender, Berkeley: University of California Press., pp.77-91
  • Margaret S. Mahler. (1963) 'Thoughts about Development and Individuation', in The Psychoanalytic Study Of The Child. vol. 18, pp.307-324
  • Valsiner, Jaan. (1994) 'The Problem of the Cultural Development of the Child', in The Vygotsky reader, Oxford: Blackwell., pp.57-72
  • Gilligan, Carol. (2003) 'Woman's Place in Man's Life Cycle', in In a different voice: psychological theory and women's development, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press., pp.5-23
  • Crowley, Kevin. (c[2016) 'Social development', in An introduction to child development, Los Angeles: SAGE., pp.277-308
  • Freud, Anna. (1973, c1965) 'The Concept of Developmental Lines', in Normality and pathology in childhood: assessments of development, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books., pp.59-82
  • Winnicott, D. W. (1971) Playing and reality, London: Tavistock.
  • Bowlby, John. (2005) The making and breaking of affectional bonds, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Cole, Sheila. (2018) 'Birth', in The development of children, New York, NY: Worth Publishers/ Macmillan education., pp.104-117
  • Burman, Erica. (2017) 'Morality and the goals of development: Ethical-political dilemmas of developmentalism as inscribed within models, and some proposals', in Deconstructing developmental psychology, New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group., pp.272-291

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Essay 1    100% 
Coursework   Essay 2     

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Norman Gabriel, email:
Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Student Administrator Room 5A.202 telephone 01206 874969 email



External examiner

Prof Heather Montgomery
The Open University
Professor of Anthropology and Childhood
Available via Moodle
Of 40 hours, 35 (87.5%) hours available to students:
2 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
3 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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