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Psychologie du développement

academic year

Course teacher(s)

Bernard DAN (Coordinator), Julie BERTELS and Charline URBAIN

ECTS credits


Language(s) of instruction


Course content

"Cognitive development" - Prof. Julie Bertels
  • Questions and controversies in the study of cognitive development
  • The main theories of cognitive development
  • Methods in the psychology of cognitive development
  • Perceptual development (vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell)
  • Coordination of sensory modalities
  • Causal relations
  • Conceptual development and categorization of objects
  • The development of theories of mind (TOM)

"Cognitive development" - Prof. Charline Urbain
  • Childhood brain development
  • Brain development & plasticity: the importance of sleep
  • Functional brain development: memories
  • Functional brain development: emotions
  • Typical development (a): cross interactions

"Emotional and social development" - Prof. Lotta De Coster
  • Introduction to developmental psychology. Continuity and changes in behavior over the life course
  • The role and interaction of innate and environmental factors in human development.
  • The main research methods in developmental psychology
  • Human development theories, socio-emotional development theories (stages) and current knowledge
  • Socio-emotional development (emotions and social relationships)
  • The development of early interactions and attachment

Objectives (and/or specific learning outcomes)

After following this teaching unit, the student will be able to:
  • differentiate key concepts in developmental psychology: growth, critical period, nature and environment, changes and continuity, crisis, developmental task, etc.
  • explain and illustrate the main methods of data collection in developmental psychology.
  • differentiate the main theories of cognitive and socio-emotional development, identify their points of agreement and their specificities.
  • enumerate the main milestones in perceptual, sensorimotor, psycho-affective and cognitive development while being aware of the variations that the developmental trajectory of each subject may present.
  • recognize the major stages of development (i) of learning / memory systems as well as (ii) of emotional regulation processes in children and associated brain networks
  • recognize the major stages in the development of the brain processes involved during sleep and their associations with the phenomena (i) of cerebral maturation (ii) of cerebral plasticity (iii) of consolidation in memory in children,
  • recognize the major stages of socio-emotional and psycho-emotional development according to different theories.
  • know the main principles of children's brain development
  • know the main arguments highlighting the importance of cross interactions between typical and atypical child development
  • relate typical development to developmental disorders
  • analyze different contexts and development environments (apply the ecosystem model of Bronfenbrenner, etc.).
  • formulate a critical position vis-à-vis the different paradigms and theories presented.

Teaching methods and learning activities

Lectures (on the campus & distance learning)

Contribution to the teaching profile

Contribution to the teaching profile

This course helps the students to:

  • Acquire the key concepts in the field of perceptual, motor, cognitive and socio-emotional development
  • Link the typical development of the child with developmental disorders
  • Acquire key concepts in functional and structural brain development in children
  • Become aware of the importance of the relational, interactional and social context in the development of the individual

Skills that will be developed (according to the teaching profile - Bachelor in Psychological Sciences and Education):
  • Adopt an ethical and deontological posture. Questioning of the ethical implications of research or intervention in the discipline of developmental psychology.
  • Learn about a scientific research process. Identify the epistemological paradigm and the theoretical framework used in a developmental research. Characterize the research methods to be applied according to the type of data collected.
  • Identify and situate oneself in relation to questions relating to the psychological sciences. Distinguish between the different levels of analysis (eg biological, developmental, psychosocial, interindividual) allowing to apprehend a psychological fact.

References, bibliography, and recommended reading

Cognitive development - Prof. J Bertels

J. Vauclair (2004). Perceptual, motor and cognitive development in young children. Belin Editions.

Complementary readings will be recommended for each lesson.

Cognitive development - Prof. C Urban
Complementary readings will be recommended for each lesson.

For example:

  • Karmiloff-Smith A. Development itself is the key to understanding developmental disorders. Trends Cogn Sci. 1998; 2 (10): 389-398. doi: 10.1016 / s1364-6613 (98) 01230-3
  • D'Souza D, Karmiloff-Smith A. Why a developmental perspective is critical for understanding human cognition. Behav Brain Sci. 2016; 39: e122. doi: 10.1017 / S0140525X15001569
  • Gogtay N, Giedd JN, Lusk L, et al. Dynamic mapping of human cortical development during childhood through early adulthood. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004; 101 (21): 8174-8179. doi: 10.1073 / pnas.0402680101
  • Khundrakpam BS, Lewis JD, Zhao L, Chouinard-Decorte F, Evans AC. Brain connectivity in normally developing children and adolescents. Neuroimage. 2016; 134: 192-203. doi: 10.1016 / j.neuroimage.2016.03.062

Social and emotional development - Prof. Lotta De Coster

All the teaching material will be available on the Virtual University:

  • Notes and slides prepared by the teacher.
  • Extracts from Miljkovitch, R., Morange-Majoux, F., & Sander, E. (edited by) (2017). Developmental psychology. Issy-les-Moulineaux: Elsevier Masson. 
  • Complementary readings including recent scientific articles in developmental psychology. Unless otherwise indicated, these additional readings are not obligatory, nor to know for the exam but they aim to contribute to your understanding of the lessons.

Course notes

  • Université virtuelle

Other information








Method(s) of evaluation

  • written examination

written examination

Written exam on 20 points

Cognitive development (J. Bertels and C. Urbain):  Mulitple choice questions on 10 points.

Socio-emotional and affective development (L. De Coster): written exam with multiple choice questions (MCQ) on 10 points.

Mark calculation method (including weighting of intermediary marks)

Simple arithmetic mean of the grade for the “socio-emotional and affective development” part (L. De Coster) and of the grade for the “cognitive development” part (C. Urbain and J. Bertels)

The student who has passed (grade> 10/20) one of the two parts will not have to take the other part again in August (second session).

Language(s) of evaluation

  • french