Module code: PSY3103

Module Overview

Please note: This module is part of the Developmental Psychology and Neuroscience streams of Level 6 optional modules and will not be running every year. In some years an alternative optional module(s) within the Developmental Psychology and Neuroscience streams will be offered instead.

A large number of disorders have their origins during the early stages of development. This module will teach you about the basic mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental disorders and how disorders may manifest during vulnerable stages in brain development. You will learn about the relationship between biological and psychological aspects of developmental disorders, including genetics, hormones and social factors, and you will gain insight in current challenges and biopsychological techniques to study typical and atypical neurodevelopment. You will also learn about the course of some common neurodevelopmental disorders and how to consider the process of development itself. The module consists of lectures, oral presentations, exercises, group discussions and a poster session organised by and for the students.

By the end of this module, students will be able to

  1. Read and reflect research articles and theories on the biopsychological mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental disorders

  2. Review and report scientific research on typical and atypical neurodevelopment

  3. Critically discuss research articles in a scientific setting and group discussion

  4. Contribute to the scientific discourse on neurodevelopment Outcomes 1 to 3 will be assessed by written exam and outcome 4 will be assessed by poster presentation.

Outcomes 1 to 3 will be assessed by written exam and outcome 4 will be assessed by poster presentation.

Module provider


Module Leader

GENTLE Judith (Psychology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 126

Lecture Hours: 20

Seminar Hours: 4

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

BSc Psychology Levels 4 and 5 or equivalent

Module content

The module incorporates a number of different methods of teaching and learning, including lectures, class discussions, oral presentations, group work, and hands-on-experience with psychological assessments.

The following range of topics will be covered

Introduction to neurodevelopmental disorders

Brain basis and imaging of developmental disorders

Genetics and developmental disorders

Understanding multilevel risk and causes in developmental disorders

Risks and social factors in early development

Learning and motor difficulties

Hormones and developmental disorders

Introduction to psychological assessment of children with developmental disorders

The module incorporates a number of different methods of teaching and learning, including lectures, class discussions, oral presentations, group work, and hands-on-experience with psychological assessments.

Lectures + Class Exercises (7 x 2 hours)

These sessions will be led by Dr Peter Klaver, Dr Hayley Leonard or Professor Derek Moore, and will be split into two components. The first half of each session will be an introductory lecture to a topic, while the second half of each session will involve class discussion, oral presentations and group exercises relating to that topic. For each session, recent articles will complement text book reading. Students are required to read the articles before each lecture, and take turns to  present the content to the group. Exercises will target gaining specific and transferable knowledge and insight to link theoretical and methodological aspects on neurodevelopmental research.

Group Work and Oral Presentations (2 x 2 hours)

The coursework assignment will be introduced in one session and students will be put into groups to discuss and begin to develop the theme for their poster, which will be presented in a conference format in Week 10.

Hands-on-Experience (1 x 2 hours)

A range of assessments used to assess individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders will be introduced, including tests of intellectual ability, motor skills and social communication. Students will have the opportunity to use the assessments, and to learn how they contribute to the assessment of neurodevelopmental disorders.

This module is designed to be interactive, and students will benefit most from these teaching and learning methods if they fully engage with the different tasks. This will include completing the reading before discussion sessions, participating fully in group work and the conference session, and taking advantage of the excellent opportunities to visit a lab in another institution and learn about different diagnostic assessments.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment

Posters can be created and presented individually (30%). Students who take temporary suspension partway through this module may not be able to complete the remaining classes for this module on their return if it is not running in the following academic year. Such students will have the choice to take a replacement module, or, if they have already completed an assessment for the original module, to attend classes from a new optional module within the same stream (area of psychology) and complete an alternative assessment based on this content that meets the learning outcomes of the original module. The specific alternative assessment will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate

  1. Insight into the biological and psychological mechanisms of neurodevelopmental disorders

  2. Understanding of risks to develop developmental disorders and resources that prevent chronic manifestation of developmental disorders

  3. Understanding techniques to study the basis of developmental disorders

  4. Orally present, summarize and discuss scientific reading on neurodevelopmental disorders

  5. Initiative and ability to conceptualize novel studies on neurodevelopmental disorders

  6. Design and present posters with scientific concepts

Outcomes 1 to 3 will be assessed by exam. Outcomes 4 to 6 will be assessed by poster presentation.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • A 90 minute essay questions examination in the formal exam period: Students choose two questions (70%).

  • Poster presentation and discussion on a concept of a study design to target at the investigation of the basis of neurodevelopmental disorders or therapeutic intervention (30%). This will take place in Week 10.

Formative assessment and feedback

  • Formative feedback will be provided on a plan / outline of the poster. Written feedback will be provided to help inform your final assignment

  • Feedback on oral presentations will be provided (orally) during class discussion

  • Feedback on poster presentation will be provided during (orally) and after (written) class discussion

Module aims

  • This module aims to: Link the biological basis of brain development to typical and atypical psychological functioning
  • Specific aims are: To provide an understanding of the psychological and biological basis of typical and atypical development
  • Specific aims are: To provide an understanding of psychological and biological risk and protecting factors for developmental disorders
  • Specific aims are: To provide an understanding of factors that influence the dynamics during transition from a healthy individual to a patient with a chronic mental disorder
  • Specific aims are: To have a concept of current theories and gaps in research on neurodevelopmental disorders and to provide ideas how associations between brain and psychological development can be investigated using brain imaging techniques

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Critically analyse and summarize research articles on the biopsychological basis of neurodevelopmental disorders C
2 Know about theories and mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental disorders. Know about risks and protecting factors that influence to the manifestation of neurodevelopmental disorders K
3 Know about risks and protecting factors that influence to the manifestation of neurodevelopmental disorders K
4 Scientifically report and critically discuss research methods and concepts on neurodevelopmental disorders PT
5 Develop and present research concepts on the biopsychological basis of neurodevelopmental disorders PT
6 Design and present a research proposal on a poster PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

A - Substantiate knowledge on brain structure/function and development

B &ndash Develop a high level understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying typical and atypical development, specifically neurodevelopmental disorders

C &ndash Develop an understanding of the risks and resources that influence the manifestation of developmental disorders

D &ndash Develop insight into the links between brain disorders and psychological disorders and how these can be investigated

E - Develop skills in critical scientific thinking

F - Develop skills in scientific discourse and communication

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • 7 x 1 hour lectures

  • 7 x 1 hour oral presentations, group exercises and class discussion

  • 2 x 2 hour group work and oral presentation sessions

  • 1 x 2 hour hands-on-experience of psychological assessments

  • Independent student reading

  • Independent group preparation for coursework assignment

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: PSY3103

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Psychology BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2019/0 academic year.