Institution / Queens University Belfast

Atypical Child Development

This programme provides advanced study of topics in developmental psychology, with a specific focus on patterns of atypical development and childhood development disorders such as autism, dyslexia, ADHD and genetic disorders.

The programme addresses questions such as:
•What is the relationship between typical and atypical development?
•How do we know that a child's development is atypical and what criteria can we use to assess this?
•How can we best explain the causes of atypical development and understand the effects on children's lives?
•What programmes and interventions can help atypically developing children and how can they be best designed and implemented?

Why Queen's?
The School of Psychology is well placed to offer a programme which deals with these issues. It 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).

Course Details
The programme consists of seven compulsory modules and a dissertation. Modules cover theoretical approaches to developmental psychology, an introduction to developmental disorders (including autism, dyslexia, SLI and dyscalculia), and descriptions of how such disorders are diagnosed and treated.

In addition, students complete modules on research skills and quantitative and qualitative data analysis in order to prepare them for conducting the research that will form the basis of their MSc dissertation. For their dissertation, students are encouraged to conduct their research with children who show atypical patterns of development or on relevant issues with typically developing children.

Students complete three modules per semester in addition to their dissertation. Each taught module involves a mixture of classes and seminars. The quantitative statistics module is lab-based. Student also see their tutor regularly for individual supervision on their research dissertation. Students are expected to spend at least an equivalent amount of time on private study and/or data collection each week as they do in teaching sessions.

Entry requirements

A 2.1 Honours degree or above in Psychology or another closely related discipline, or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University.

If the programme is oversubscribed, applications will be ranked based on quality of academic performance, references and relevant experience.

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

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.

•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.


1 year full-time or 2 years part-time.

Learning and Teaching
Teaching takes place in the morning and afternoon. Lectures and seminars are blocked into two full days for full time students and one full day for part time students.

Careers or further progression

Career Prospects
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 developmental disorders, and to subsequently pursue an academic career.

Note: the programme is not designed as a training in professional psychology and graduates will not be able to offer psychological services or to practise as professional psychologists.

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

Professor Teresa McCormack
School of Psychology
Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 4174

Subjects taught

Modules include:
Assessment and Intervention (20 credits)
Atypical Patterns of Child Development (20 credits)
Perspectives on Child Development (20 credits)
Principles of Qualitative Research Methods and Data Analyses (20 credits)
Quantitative Data Analyses (20 credits)
Research Methods in Developmental Psychology (10 credits)
Research Skills (10 credits)

The dissertation is a further 60 credits.

Assessment method

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

Application date

Postgraduate Taught
Closing dates do apply for some of our courses, and details of these are available on our Course Finder. We advise you to apply as early as possible, particularly for those courses where there is a high demand for places. Early application is also important for international applicants to allow sufficient time to obtain a student entry visa.

How to Apply
Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply. See application weblink below.

Enrolment and start dates

Entry year: 2018

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