Child Development

Study Child Development and graduate with a university degree

MSc, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma

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Child Development
  • Type Full-time, Part-time
  • Start date September

Linda Cullen
Postgraduate Secretary
University of Stirling
+44 (0) 1786 467640

Why study at Stirling?

This MSc is taught by our expert team of psychologists specialising in early childhood development. The course covers a range of topics from social and cognitive development, to autism and other atypical developmental issues, to the health psychology of infant feeding practices. Teaching is grounded in practice with input from social psychologists, health psychologists, neuropsychologists and primatologists. As well as a month-long placement, you will also benefit from hands-on learning through our in-house playgroup which is integral to teaching and research on the MSc.

Course objectives

What the MSc is for:

To train you how to conduct research into child development. How the brain and mind develop is critical to our understanding of human psychology. Studying this requires special skills and knowledge that you will acquire on this course.

Who the MSc is for:

Graduates in Psychology or related subjects and professionals working with children as continued professional development.

How the MSc is taught:

In addition to core research methods modules, the course includes a seminar series with topics ranging from social and cognitive development to autism and other atypical developmental issues and the health psychology of infant feeding practices. The research placement allows direct experience tailored to each student’s career aspirations, and the dissertation allows extensive research into a chosen aspect of child development.

What you get

Office space and equipment, a personal academic supervisor, and inclusion in a vibrant, stimulating and friendly research community.

Entrance requirements

A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject.  Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your  proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 (5.5 in all bands).

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard.

Our range of pre-sessional courses.

Modes of study

Two semesters for Diploma, 12 months for MSc

Four semesters for the Diploma, 24 months for MSc

Course start date


Structure and content

The course is made up of the following modules:

  • Child Development: A series of participatory seminars with developmental psychologists covering a range of topics in child development: socio-cognitive development in pre-school children; the social and cognitive characteristics of Autistic Spectrum Disorders; the health psychology of infant feeding practices; representation and social learning in infancy; cross-cultural differences in cognition; language and communication development and assessment.
  • Psychological Research Methods I and II: Covers a wide range of techniques used in psychological research and demonstrates these techniques in relation to topics in a range of areas.
  • Advanced Statistics: Assumes a reasonable knowledge of statistics, although an additional introductory module is available. The main statistics teaching is aimed at introducing advanced methods such as multivariate statistics and the rationale of using statistical methods.
  • Key Skills for Psychology Researchers: Focuses on the research process, including ethical reviews, professional conduct and disseminating research effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • Qualitative Research Methods: Provides a broad but solid grounding in qualitative research methodology.
  • Research Placement: This month-long placement, which can be in an applied setting in a childrens' charity, school or child services or within an academic setting such as a Research Assistant, is carried out in the Spring Semester, allowing students to broaden their practical research experience and enhance their employability skills.   

    The Division of Psychology also has its own Playgroup which supports developmental research and teaching.

We also offer some flexibility, allowing students to opt for a module from another subject area if this can meet personal training needs.


For those who go onto the MSc, approximately half of the course of study is devoted to a research project, leading to a 12,000-word dissertation.

Delivery and assessment

Teaching is delivered using a variety of methods including tutorials, demonstrations and practical classes, but the majority is seminar-based. Students are typically taught in small groups in specialist classes, with first-year PhD students or other postgraduate students (for example, in modules from other MSc courses).

The individual module components contribute towards 60 percent of the MSc grade, with the research dissertation contributing the remaining 40 percent.

Course Director

Dr Jan Kuipers


In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.

More information


Psychology at Stirling is one of the leading psychology departments in the UK. It ranked in the top 20 in the recent research assessment (REF 2014) and is one of only seven non-Russell group universities to do so (Birkbeck, Royal Holloway, Sussex, Essex, St Andrews and Bangor; source Times Higher Education magazine). Its quality of research publications ranked third in Scotland after Aberdeen and Glasgow. Furthermore, the relevance of its research activity to society received the highest possible rating which only four other psychology departments in the UK achieved (REF 2014 results).

Psychology at Stirling University is small enough to fully involve MSc students in our lively and collegial community of research excellence.

Your three month full-time dissertation is supervised by leading UK academics.

Our students

The academic skills gained on the MSc have gone a long way towards helping me to achieve my goal of becoming an Educational Psychologist.

Jennifer Dent, MSc Child Development 2009/10


Career opportunities

The course is designed for those going on to do further research in developmental psychology and careers where a knowledge of developmental research is beneficial. The research placement enables you to gain direct experience tailored to your career aspirations and the dissertation allows extensive research into a chosen aspect of child development.


2016/17 Overseas £13,950
2016/17 Home/EU £6,100
2015/16 Overseas £13,500
2015/16 Home/EU £6,000

You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.


There are typically five £1,000 bursaries to contribute towards fees or maintenance costs for students beginning a taught MSc course. All students, including international students, formally accepted onto the MSc course are eligible to apply for these awards. Awards will be decided on both previous experience and academic record but preference will be given to applicants intending to stay at Stirling to pursue a PhD following the MSc course.

Information on other possible sources of funding