Accessibility statement

Reading Development & Disorders - EDU00047H

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  • Department: Education
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Jelena O'Reilly
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

This module will look at how children develop their literacy skills, what happens when development does not follow a typical pattern, and how we can intervene to support children with literacy difficulties. The module will draw on the substantial body of psychological research (e.g. cognitive, developmental and computational) that focuses on reading development and disorders, and link this closely with current educational policy for the teaching of reading.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2023-24

Module aims

On this module you will learn develop an understanding of how children learn to read, from the earliest stages of reading to becoming skilled reader. You will also be introduced to different reading disorders and the impact of these disorders on a child's educational, social and emotional development. In addition, you will learn about how we assess children' reading ability, current approaches to intervention and the importance of an evidence base. You will develop skills in independently analysing a range of sources from psychology and education and critically engaging with the overlaps between these disciplines. You will also engage with different forms of evidence, reviewing their reliability, validity and significance to the field of psychology in education as well as evaluating different assessment tools.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module you will be able to examine at an advanced level the different theoretical perspectives on reading development and disorders, and the implications of these perspectives for educational practice. You will be able to examine issues of assessment and diagnoses including consideration of the advantages and disadvantages of diagnoses and labels. You will understand the different levels of explanation for reading disorders i.e. biological, cognitive and behavioural. You will be able to apply comprehensive and detailed knowledge of theoretical concepts in seeking to understand the ways in which interventions are developed and delivered More generally, you will build on your skills in formulating academic arguments in written and oral form, proactively seek out and engage with a range of sources and critically evaluate the reliability and validity of these in informing and supporting academic argumentation. You will be able to analyse and critically evaluate the ways in which theories and data from differing disciplines can inform each other and enhance understanding (in this case, of learning development and educational diversity). You will be able to work proactively and autonomously to select and manage information and use this to engage effectively in academic debate. You will be able to conduct a systematic literature search, using search engines and databases effectively and efficiently. You will develop your presentation skills, and be able to compress large amounts of information into smaller more digestible chunks for a range of audiences.

Module content

The following is a list of indicative session topics for this module:

Introduction to reading development and disorders

A general introduction to written and spoken language and the levels of explanation along with an overview of how to conduct a systematic review.

Skilled Word Reading

What we mean by skilled word reading and introducing students to models of skilled word recognition.

Learning to Read and Reading Comprehension

What we mean by reading comprehension, and how reading comprehension fits into current models of reading.


Developmental dyslexia, describing the nature and current theories of this reading difficulty.

Specific Comprehension Difficulties

Sources of comprehension failure and the impact this has on children's understanding of text

Measuring reading and reading comprehension

A look at the measures used to measure reading level and reading comprehension.

Learning to read in English as an additional language

Reading development of children in UK primary schools for whom English is not their first language and consider their reading development in comparison to their monolingual peers.

Reading instruction

How children are taught to read and current debates in instructional techniques.

Intervention for children with word reading/ reading comprehension difficulties

Techniques for supporting children with word reading/ reading comprehension difficulties and review some of the evidence for successful approaches to intervention


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Formative work will be embedded throughout the module including class discussion, preparatory work and group activities as well as formative assessment due in week 6.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive peer feedback in sessions when taking part in discussions, small group work and presentations. Tutor feedback will be given regularly during class activities. Formal tutor feedback will be provided for the formative assessment both at an individual and group level. The feedback is returned to students in line with university policy. Please check the Guide to Assessment, Standards, Marking and Feedback for more information.

Indicative reading

Cain, K. (2010). Reading Development and Difficulties. West Sussex: BPS Blackwell

Carroll, J.M., Bowyer-Crane, C.A., Duff, F.J., Hulme, C., & Snowling, M.J. (2011). Developing Language and Literacy. West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell.

Hulme, C. & Snowling, M.J. (2009). Developmental Disorders of Language, Learning and Cognition. West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.