BESC5011 Developmental Psychology

Graduate Diploma Level Unit

BESC5011 Developmental Psychology

Level: Higher

Credit points: 3

Prerequisites: none

Unit description

This unit provides a comprehensive framework for developmental psychology across the lifespan. Through this unit students will acquire in-depth knowledge of developmental psychology for understanding and appreciating their own development as well as for those people they interact with in their counselling or work-related role. Emphasis throughout this unit is on applying the theory to practical situations they may encounter in their work roles.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students should be able to: 

  • explain the concepts of lifespan and developmental psychology
  • identify the key theories related to developmental psychology
  • discuss the nature and nurture influences over the lifespan
  • describe development in the stages preceding birth and also following birth
  • identify the physical changes throughout the lifespan
  • identify the cognitive changes throughout the lifespan
  • discuss the concept of intelligence and how this changes throughout the lifespan
  • explore the development of self-conceptions
  • describe personality development
  • identify social changes and moral development throughout the lifespan
  • identify the influence that family and attachment has throughout the lifespan
  • describe theories of aging
  • explain the processes of dying from a physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual perspective

Unit content

  • Exploring the Lifespan
  • Theories of Developmental Psychology
  • Prenatal, Perinatal and Postnatal Development
  • Physical Changes Throughout the Lifespan
  • Cognitive Changes Throughout the Lifespan
  • Learning Throughout the Lifespan
  • Social and Moral Changes Throughout the Lifespan
  • Development of Self and Personality Throughout the Lifespan
  • The Role of the Family: Nature and Nurture Together in Action
  • Gender and Sexuality Throughout the Lifespan
  • The Final Stage of the Lifespan
  • Fitting It All Together

Unit workload

The workload for this unit is 9.75 hours per week.

Assignment summary

Regular Term



Word count


Academic Essay




Reflective Essay




Summer School (2014)



Word count


Reflective Journal and Directed Reflection


Reflective Journal (800) & Directed Reflection (600)

Blended & Online Delivery: 3

On Campus: End of on campus week

Case Study



Blended & Online Delivery: 3

On Campus: 5

Graduate attributes

The following graduate attributes will be developed in this unit:

  • Creative self-expression
  • Reasoned criticism
  • Multiple research methodologies
  • Complex data acquisition techniques and analysis
  • Written expression and reasoned argument from empirical data
  • Evaluating possible outcomes of alternative courses of action

Recommended text

Sigelman, C. K., & Rider, E. A. (2012). Life-span human development (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Relevant journals

Adultspan: Theory, Research and Practice
Aging and Mental Health
Applied Developmental Science
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Australian Journal of Early Childhood
Australian Journal of Psychology
Brain, Behaviour and Evolution
British Journal of Developmental Psychology
Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Child Development
Child: Care, Health and Development
Contemporary Sexuality
Disability of Handicap
Infant and Child Development
International Journal of Aging and Human Development
Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Journal of Humanistic Counselling, Education and Development
Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability
Journal of Men’s Studies
Journal of Personality
Psychology and Health

Academic misconduct

Ethical conduct and academic integrity and honesty are fundamental to the mission of ACAP. Academic misconduct will not be tolerated by the college. Please refer to for full details of the Academic Misconduct Policy.


This unit outline may be updated and amended from time to time. To ensure you have the correct outline please check it again at the beginning of the semester.