PSYC2042 Lifespan Development

Graduate Diploma Level Unit

PSYC2042 Lifespan Development

Duration: One trimester

Level: Two

Credit points: Three (out of total of twenty four)

Prerequisites: PSYC1012, PSYC1022, PSYC1032

Mode(s) of delivery: On campus and Blended

Core/elective: Core

Unit co-ordinator: Dr. Fiona Ann Papps

Unit description

This unit examines theory and research related to major themes of psychological development across the life span. The unit will focus on biological and physical development, cognitive processes and development, socio-emotional development, contexts of social development, and death and dying. Within these areas, special attention will be devoted to cognitive development, intelligence, language development, development of self, gender and sexuality, moral development and the impact of family, culture and minority status on psychological development.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students should be able to:

  • discuss the key themes related to various stages of the life cycle, theoretical approaches, issues and methods of study of life span development, including cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and moral development from infancy to old age
  • describe the different approaches to studying development across the lifespan
  • observe, classify and describe behaviour across various ages in test situations, compile group data, and interpret the data in terms of hypotheses being tested
  • identify key life cycle issues related to family context, culture, and minority status
  • evaluate empirical evidence and relate to issues and theoretical approaches discuss ethical issues associated with life span developmental research.

Unit content


  • Theoretical approaches to development across the lifespan
  • Methods of studying development across the lifespan
  • Biological and physical development
  • Cognitive development and intelligence
  • Language development
  • Emotional and social development
  • Moral development
  • Family as a context for development
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Love and intimacy
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Ageing and death, dying and bereavementt

Learning and teaching process

This unit comprises 10 weekly three hour lectures and nine weekly one hour tutorial/laboratories. Attendance at tutorial/laboratories is compulsory. Attendance at lectures is highly recommended. However, lectures will be captured electronically at the time of delivery and will be available later the same day for downloading of the slide content and the oral presentation.

Graduate attributes

The material covered in this unit will contribute to the development of the following graduate attributes:

  1. Knowledge and understanding of core topics in psychology. These topics include abnormal psychology, biological bases of behaviour, cognition, information processing and language, learning, lifespan developmental psychology, perception, social psychology and intercultural diversity and indigenous psychology.
  2. Research methods in psychology. This attribute covers an understanding of the characteristics of the science of psychology and the different and varied research methods used by psychologists. It also includes the acquisition of practical skills in laboratory-based research and other methods, the design of studies to address psychological questions, critical analysis, the formulation of testable hypotheses, the choice of an appropriate methodology, the question of reliability and validity and their meanings and operations, the analysis of data, and the writing of reports.
  3. Critical thinking skills. This attribute includes the application of scientific method to the study of mental and behavioural problems, the examination of other modes of understanding the world and the development of other world views, and a recognition of the fallacies and the biases that can affect human thinking and analysis.
  4. Values, research and professional ethics. This attribute includes the evaluation of the behaviour of psychologists in psychological research and other professional contexts and is in the context of the Australian Psychological Society “Code of Ethics” and the Australian “National Practice Standards for the Mental Health Workforce”. Values and professional ethics must also be understood and evaluated in the context of social ethical principles and ethical conduct in legal, medical and institutional behaviour.
  5. Communication skills. Students need to learn how to communicate effectively orally in various settings (group discussion, presentations, both formal and informal) for various purposes. Written communication, in the form of written reports, should be according to professionally accepted formats. In psychology we follow the American Psychological Association structure and formatting conventions.
  6. Learning and the application of psychology. This attribute includes the application of knowledge of legislative frameworks and the application of knowledge about laws and conventions in work settings, consumer and carer participation and in the general matter of the conduct of application of psychology. It also considers how there may be variation of legislation across different areas of application. 

Students should also be cognizant of the need to sustain independent learning for professional and personal development over their life, in the changing social and cultural practices in society and in the practice and development of the scientific basis of psychology.

Assessment summary



Word count


Two Online Content Assessment Tests (CATs)

These assignments comprise two timed tests that assess knowledge of the content addressed in lectures and tutorials. Each test contains 25 multiple choice items derived from lecture and tutorial notes. Each test is made available in the on-line class space one week prior to the due date, and students are allowed thirty minutes in which to answer the 25 items in the test.

Learning outcomes: a, b, f.

20%, each CAT worth 10%.


No word count prescribed

Week 6 and Week 10

Laboratory Report

The assignment is a report of a laboratory activity which requires observation, classification, and comparison of various stages of the life cycle of a specific behaviour, compilation of group data and interpretation, and critically evaluating and integrating information in related prescribed journal articles.

The report should include: a review and critique of the literature; the presentation of hypotheses; an appropriate description of method; the analysis of data; the careful drawing of conclusions; identification of strengths and limitations.

Learning outcomes: a, c, d, e, f.



Week 9


The examination comprises 100 multiple-choice questions covering the unit curriculum including material presented in lectures, laboratory/tutorials and in prescribed reading.

Learning outcomes: a, b, c, d, e, f.


No word count prescribed

Week 12


Special provisions

Attendance at scheduled tutorial/laboratories is compulsory.

Submission of the two CATs and the assignment and sitting the examination are required for completion of the unit.

Recommended textbooks

Peterson, C. (2013). Looking forward through the lifespan (6th Ed). Melbourne, Australia: Pearson Education Australia.

Santrock, J. W. (2013). A topical approach to lifespan development (7th Ed). Boston, MA: McGraw Hill.

Other significant references

Berk, L. E. (2009). Development through the lifespan (5th Ed). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Boyd, D. & Bee, H. (2009). Life span development (5th Ed).Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

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

Relevant journals and resources

As the unit covers research methods and statistical techniques, knowledge and understanding of these topics will be enhanced by wide reading of international peer-reviewed journal articles from various domains of psychology, which can be accessed via the ACAP Library’s journal databases.

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. This includes plagiarism of any nature. It is your responsibility to make sure that you understand what constitutes plagiarism in order to ensure that you do not engage in it. 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 throughout the trimester. Your lecturer will advise when there are updates on the site and also when readings are available for class discussion.