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Language & Development 1 - PSY00018C

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  • Department: Psychology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Hannah Hobson
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

Two faculties that set us apart from other animals are our extraordinary capacity to learn and to communicate. This module focuses on these faculties through the psychological study of infant and child development, and the acquisition of language skills from infancy to adulthood. The module begins with a broad introduction to language and development, leading to a more detailed look at infancy (including cognitive, linguistic, and motoric abilities) and early language acquisition. The module ends with a consideration of how, as adults, we manage to recognise the sounds we hear as comprising individual words.

Module learning outcomes

  • Be able to differentiate the various mechanisms underlying typical and atypical language acquisition in humans
  • To describe and evaluate the methods used in developmental psychology and the theories of Bowlby, Piaget and Vygotsky
  • Explain the main approaches to the study of language and evaluate their implications for language acquisition, animal or human communication and the relationship between language and cognition
  • To appraise and understand the profound cognitive and social changes that occur in early human development between conception and the age of two.
  • To evaluate different methodologies and techniques used to explore infant cognition and behaviour.

Module content

This module focuses on two key areas of psychological study: Developmental Psychology and the Psychology of Language. The module begins with a broad introduction to language discussing what human languages are, what characterises them in comparison to animal communication, how they are acquired, and what role they play in human cognition and culture. The second part of the course will focus on introducing students to Developmental Psychology. The first session is an introduction to the discipline of developmental psychology. There will be sessions focusing on developmental research methods and on the ideas of the key theorists in Developmental Psychology: John Bowlby, Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky.

The third section of this module will explore prenatal physical development in humans, focusing on understanding how the brain develops. It will explore infants' cognitive development and discuss how cognitive development is studied and some of the associated methodological problems. It will also cover infant expression, understanding of emotion and the development of communication skills. The final part of this module will explore how language abilities develop over childhood. Topics covered include what babies can learn about sound, speech and language while still in the womb, how children acquire the meaning of words and syntax, and communication disorders in childhood.


Task Length % of module mark
Closed/in-person Exam (Centrally scheduled)
Language & Development 1
2 hours 50
N/A 20
N/A 30

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Closed/in-person Exam (Centrally scheduled)
Language & Development 1
2 hours 62.5
N/A 37.5

Module feedback

The marks on all assessed work will be provided on e-vision.

Indicative reading

Harley, T. A. (2008). The Psychology of Language: From data to theory (3rd. ed.) Hove: Psychology Press.

Slater S. & Bremner, J. G. (2011). An Introduction to Developmental Psychology, 2nd edition.

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.