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Psychology of Childhood Adversity

The programme provides advanced study of topics in developmental psychology, with a specific focus on development in the context of adversity.

Childhood adversity refers to factors extrinsic to the child such as growing up in contexts of parental psychopathology, economic deprivation and community conflict. Psychological, educational and behavioural outcomes of adversity will be explored as well as the predictors, mediators and moderators of outcome.

The MSc will also focus on international contexts of childhood adversity and will address the impact of war and conflict, sexual violence and exploitation and the challenges faced by children who live in and work on the streets. It will examine the cultural sensitivities that researchers and humanitarian workers need to keep in mind when working in non-Western settings and explore both mental health and psychosocial interventions that seek to help children and young people affected by humanitarian disasters.

Students will additionally have the opportunity to study interdisciplinary approaches to tackling childhood adversity, with compulsory and optional modules in Children's Rights, Youth Justice and Caring for Children with Complex Health Needs.

The study of the psychology of childhood adversity will address questions such as:
• What aspects of childhood adversity impact of child and adolescent development?
• How do intrinsic (eg child's personality) and extrinsic (eg parenting) factors interact to moderate outcomes of adversity?
• What programmes and interventions can help children growing up in adversity and how can they be best designed and implemented?

Why Queen's?
The School has a long-standing reputation for research and practice in developmental psychology and currently offers two professional Doctorates in applied areas of psychology (clinical and educational).

Entry requirements

MSc: Normally a 2.1 Honours degree or above in Psychology or a related honours subject or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Applicants with relevant work experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

PG Diploma (and PG Certificate(): Normally a high 2.2 Honours degree (57%) or above, or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in a relevant subject.

International Qualifications
For information on international qualification equivalents please select Your Country from the list on our International Students website.

Additional Information for International Students
International students (for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their studies. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required.
*taken within the last 2 years

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this programme, our partner INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability to entry to this programme.

For additional information, please visit our website.
• English for University Study - an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level.
• Pre-sessional English - a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English
• See Also The Into Graduate Diploma In Finance Which Combines Academic Study, Intensive English Language Teaching And Study Skills To Prepare You For Entry Into A University Masters Degree.


1 year full-time or 2 years part-time. Teaching time is usually over 2 days (Tuesday/ Wednesday).

Teaching Times
Morning and afternoon.

Note: includes additional workshops outside normal teaching hours.

Careers or further progression

The programme is designed to prepare graduate students for more advanced research in developmental psychology, for professional training in psychology or related disciplines, and/or for employment in children's voluntary or statutory services. It will also provide graduates with the research skills and knowledge to carry out a PhD in developmental psychology and/or in childhood studies, and to pursue an academic career.

Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes alongside sterling integration with business experts helps our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

Further enquiries

Dr Teresa Rushe
Programme Director
School of Psychology
Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 4336

Subjects taught

The programme consists of compulsory and optional modules and a dissertation (MSc route only). Students take half the taught modules in semester 1 and half in semester 2.

Modules include:
• Childhood Adversity (10 credits)
• Improving Outcomes with Evidence Based Interventions (10 credits)
• Principles of Qualitative Research Methods and Data Analyses (10 credits)
• Quantitative Data Analysis 1 (10 credits) and 2 (10 credits)
• Research Design and Professional Skills (10 credits)
• Theoretical Perspectives on Child and Adolescent Development (20 credits)
• Quantitative Data Analyses 1 (10 credits) and 2 (10 credits)
• Psychological Methods in Developmental Research (10 credits)
• Children in International Contexts of Adversity (10 credits)
• Dissertation (60 credits)


Did you know?
A PG Diploma in Psychology of Childhood Adversity is also available. Contact Dr. Teresa Rushe for more information.

Assessment method

Assessment will consist of a dissertation, coursework assignments and class tests.

Application date

Deadline for applications: June 2017

Enrolment and start dates

Year of entry: 2017

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