Course Description

This course investigates major concepts, issues and methods in the study of human development, from conception through death with emphasis on the following aspects of development: physical, perceptual, cognitive, language, moral personality (social & motional) and atypical.

This course is a broad introduction to the field of developmental psychology. We examine human psychological development from the prenatal period through old age and consider patterns of biological cognitive, social, and emotional development with attention to cultural influences on development.


Number of Units: 4

Prerequisites: PSY 150

Term Length: Semester

Textbook: Provided with the course

Week 1 - Intro

Our weekly lectures will focus on the journey through the life-span including fetal development and birth. This week includes an introduction to prenatal development as well as child development shortly after birth.

Week 2 - History and theories of human development

This week, we’ll examine the history of developmental psychology that includes an investigation into the theories and concepts that are important to understanding changes in the life-span.

Week 3 - Prenatal Period and Genetics

This week’s focus on pre-birth and the biological, cognitive, and social development that happens before birth. We’ll also examine the U.S. hospital system and midwives.

Week 4 - Birth and the Newborn Child

This week’s focus is on the newborn and the weeks that follow after birth. We’ll dive into the biological, psychological, and social changes for the newborn. In addition, we’ll be able to compare cultural differences of babies across different countries.

Week 5 - Infancy

This week’s focus is on the physical, cognitive, and social development of the child between the stages of newborn and toddlerhood.

Week 7 -Toddlerhood

*Please note that Week 6 is for Exam 1.

This week’s focus is the expanding social influences of the toddler (e.g., family, friends, and play dates) as well as her physical, cognitive, and social development.

Week 8 - Early Childhood before Preschool

This week’s focus is on preschool aged children and their cognitive, social, and physical changes that includes education and learning.

Week 9 - Early Childhood in Preschool

This week is a continuation of examining early childhood with the child’s entry into preschool. We will also be comparing different preschool practices across three countries.

Week 10 - Middle Childhood

This week’s focus is on the older child’s journey through grade school and beyond. This includes physical, social, and cognitive changes during the school years. We’ll also investigate the emergence of the self and child’s sense of agency.

Week 11 - Adolescence

This week’s focus is on emergence of the adolescent from childhood. This includes complex changes in social interactions (e.g., cliques, friends, and relationships) as well the psychological changes that comes with puberty.

Week 13 - Emerging Adulthood

*Please note that Week 12 is Exam 2.

A new phase in life is considered in the field of developmental psychology. Emerging Adulthood encompasses the time between the teen years and the mid-life where career, education, and social transitions happens.

Week 14 - Young and Middle Adulthood

This phase of the life-span includes physical changes that stretch to middle age as well as the psychological changes that includes possible changes in careers and friendships. We’ll also dive into the various difficulties and adjustment that must be made with these physical changes.

Week 15 - Late Adulthood

From middle age to retirement, we’ll cover the physical, cognitive, and social changes in the life-span during this phase. This includes topics of retirement, death, and end-of-life issues.