Change to course schedule

This course will not run in January 2024.

It’s planned to run again from January 2025. Register your interest and we’ll email you as soon as application reopens.

Register your interest

Learn to use developmental psychology to improve children’s mental health and wellbeing.

Join our expert psychologists online to study childhood mental health issues, their causes, and how we can provide more effective support.

You’ll learn to source and use insights from developmental psychology to examine and understand a range of applied issues, including:

  • adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and their impact
  • childhood behavioural difficulties and their causes
  • parenting styles, attachment theory, and ecological systems theory.

Build credits towards a Masters degree

This online short course is part of our accredited Masters in Psychological Studies. You can use the credits you earn on this course towards this MSc qualification if you go on to study it.

Who is this developmental psychology course for?

You do not need to have a background in psychology to join us for this course. It’s open to anyone interested in applied developmental psychology and educational psychology.

It’s ideal if you work in, or are keen to work in:

  • early years or childhood practice, education, healthcare, social care, social justice, the third sector.

We’ll look at issues through the lens of educational practice, but this course is valuable if you work with children in any environment.

Fits around full-time work

This course is designed to fit around work. With part-time hours and 24/7 study access.

You’re in expert hands

We’ve been delivering online and distance learning for decades.

NHS and alumni discounts

NHS staff get 10% off this online course. University of Aberdeen alumni get 20% off.

What you’ll study

You’ll cover the key theories and latest research in developmental psychology.

What is developmental psychology?

Developmental psychology is the scientific study of how human beings develop and change across the lifespan. Its importance is growing within many sectors, including education.

Issues you’ll explore

You’ll use insights from developmental psychology to study and understand current issues in childhood mental health and wellbeing. You’ll examine current approaches to tackling these issues, and how these play out in the real world.

You’ll cover two main themes and a range of topics:

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)

  • What ACEs are.
  • The impact of ACEs on development and behaviour.
  • Support available.

Behavioural difficulties

  • Types of behavioural difficulties, including aggression.
  • Causes of behavioural difficulties, including social-emotional learning.
  • Support options, including behaviour management, self-regulation, classroom management, mindfulness and nurture groups.

You’ll also cover developmental psychology areas including:

  • attachment theory
  • ecological systems theory
  • parenting styles.

Throughout the course, you’ll learn to source and evaluate a range of resources, research and initiatives relating to childhood mental health and wellbeing.

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to…

  • Explain developmental psychological theories.
  • Discuss current ideas in childhood health and wellbeing.
  • Reflect on the strengths and limitations of resources by drawing on developmental psychology theory and research.
  • Apply developmental psychology research and theory to present ideas on an online platform.
  • Communicate your critical understanding to peers using online media.
  • Provide written feedback on presentations given by peers.

How you’ll study

Online learning

This distance-learning developmental psychology course is delivered part-time, 100% online. You can study with us anywhere in the world, with no need for a visa, and manage your study hours to suit you.

Part of our accredited MSc in Psychological Studies, this course is taught at Masters level. You’ll be learning alongside students who are on the full MSc programme.

Your teaching

Your teaching is delivered through MyAberdeen, our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It holds all the materials, tools and support you’ll need in your studies. Take a look around MyAberdeen.

You can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and laptop, 24 hours a day. You’ll find a range of resources at your fingertips, including:

  • videos
  • reading materials
  • the online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library
  • discussion boards with colleagues and tutors.

Your tutors

You’ll learn from expert developmental psychologists from our School of Psychology.

You’ll also learn from your fellow students. You’ll be studying online alongside individuals from a range of backgrounds who may be based all over the world.

This course is assessed entirely online via:

  • regular contributions to discussion boards
  • multiple-choice tests, which will be set and accessed online
  • creation of an online presentation.

The course totals approximately 150 hours of study and assessment time. That’s around 10 – 15 hours per week.

This is an indicative guide to the time required for a typical student at this level to achieve the learning outcomes.

You can largely set your own study hours each week to cover the materials. MyAberdeen is available 24/7, so you can log in and study when it suits you.

Activities at fixed times

There may be some activities scheduled for fixed times. This could include coursework and assessments with deadlines, or online meetings with your tutor. Otherwise, you can access and work through the course at your convenience.

Our first-class support structure will ensure that you aren’t alone in your studies. You’ll have contact with your tutors, which could be by email, Skype, Teams or phone. You can use social media and discussion boards to chat with your fellow students too.

We provide a wide range of services to support you in your studies and beyond:

Wherever you are in the world, you’ll feel part of our very special Aberdeen learning community.

Your course coordinator

Dr Heather Branigan

Heather is a Teaching Fellow whose research interests lie in educational and developmental psychology. She is also a member of the Scottish Developmental Psychology Network for Graduates (ScotDPN).

View Heather’s profile

Where this will take you

Towards a Masters

You’ll earn 15 credits at Masters level (SCQF Level 11) with this course. You can use these credits towards our accredited:

This on-campus Masters degree is:

  • accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS)
  • designed to introduce graduates from other disciplines to the study of psychology, as your first step to pursuing a career in psychology.

Build your learning

This course is part of our series of online mental health and wellbeing courses.

Use these short courses to build your skills and earn more credits towards postgraduate psychology qualifications:

All these online courses are part-time and fit around full-time work.


You’ll leave this course with the skills and confidence to help improve children’s mental health and wellbeing wherever you work.

You’ll have a better understanding of childhood mental health issues that have become a major focus in the education sector and beyond, both nationally and internationally.

Because of its psychological focus, this course is also a great fit for anyone interested in pursuing a future career in educational psychology.

Whatever your industry, you’ll gain career-enhancing expertise, including transferrable skills in critical thinking, communication and presentation.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Your employer or professional institute may recognise this course for CPD hours. Talk to your employer or institute to find out more.

Free career support

Access our free careers service while you study.

  • 1:1 appointments
  • CV checks
  • Interview prep
  • Job opportunities

See how our careers service can help you.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

We welcome students from all over the world.

This course has no formal entry requirements. You do not need to provide proof of your qualifications.

But you do need to check the entry guidance above to understand the level of teaching delivered, to decide if this course is right for you.

If you do not have qualifications from the UK, check the equivalent teaching level for your country.

Visa requirements

You do not need a visa to study online with us.

English language requirements

Teaching is delivered in English.

You do not have to provide proof of your English language skills to join this course. But we want to make sure that you can use English well enough to study successfully.

Recommended level of English

For this course, we recommend the following level of English language proficiency.

These are our Postgraduate Standard requirements, and these are minimum scores.

IELTS Academic and IELTS Online (not IELTS Indicator or IELTS General Training)

  • 6.5 overall
  • 5.5 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 6.0 for writing

TOEFL iBT and TOEFL iBT Home Edition

  • 90 overall
  • 17 for listening
  • 18 for reading
  • 20 for speaking
  • 21 for writing
  • TOEFL DI code is 0818

Cambridge English: B2 First, C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency

  • 176 overall
  • 162 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 169 for writing

LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator (Written and Spoken)

  • Overall High Pass
  • 33 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 38 for writing

PTE Academic (online test not accepted)

  • 62 overall
  • 59 for listening, reading, speaking and writing

For full information about language requirements, see our English Language Requirements page.

You will need access to:

A computer (PC, laptop or Mac) operating on either:

  • Windows 10 or later
  • macOS 10.15 (Catalina) or later.

Most teaching materials are smartphone- and tablet-friendly. But we recommend a proper laptop or desktop for completing assignments comfortably.

Reliable internet access

We recommend:

  • a wired connection
  • a minimum download speed of 2 Mbps so you can take part fully in live sessions.

Speakers or headphones

  • We recommend a headset with built-in microphone and earphones if you’re likely to study in an environment with background noise.
  • A webcam is optional, but you may like to use one from some interactive sessions.


We’ll give you access to Office365 applications. This means you can use online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and install these programs on up to five personal devices.

If your course requires specialist software, we’ll provide you with access to this and a licence that lasts throughout your studies.

See our detailed IT requirements for more information.

When you study with us, you can expect a first-class support structure so that you’re never alone in your studies.

But learning online does mean you have to motivate yourself and manage your own time.

Your most important commitment to your course will be time – the time to work through, reflect on and understand your teaching materials.

Before you start a course that involves a high degree of independent study, we recommend looking at the time you will be able to devote to your course each week:

  • Be realistic
  • Create a weekly schedule as a guide

If you have any questions about studying online, get in touch with our friendly team. We’re here to help.

Fee payment

Your course fee needs to be paid in full before you start your course.

We accept payment via Visa Debit, Visa Credit and Mastercard.

Ways to save

You may be able to get help funding this course via:

  • discounts – if any discounts are available for this course, they’ll appear in the section below
  • employer sponsorship – we accept full and partial fee payments from sponsors.

Find out more about funding options.

Student card

All our students are entitled to a University of Aberdeen student card. This gives you access to a range of student discounts around the city and online.

This course has no formal entry requirements. You decide if it’s suitable for you.

The course is delivered at Masters level. At this level, you’d usually have at least:

  • a 2:2 (second-class) undergraduate degree
  • or relevant experience that supports this level of study.