Moray House School of Education and Sport

MSc Education: Child and Adolescent Psychology pathway

This pathway takes a psychological perspective towards understanding development from infancy to adolescence, focusing on cognitive, social and emotional development, and contextualising this within a broad understanding of educational theory and policy.

This pathway draws on psychological theories and research to explore a number of questions, including:

  • What are the key processes of child and adolescent development?
  • What is the role of family in children’s development and education?
  • How do developmental disabilities such as autism and Down’s Syndrome influence children’s experiences and development?
  • How do children learn through play?
  • What are the range of factors that influence children’s interaction with technology?
  • How can knowledge of child and adolescent development inform work in educational contexts?

This pathway will appeal to those interested in or with previous experience supporting children’s development in educational settings. You will engage with current issues across a stimulating range of topics, from early literacy to friendships in children with autism, the role of physical activity in cognitive development to the impact of technology on children’s futures.

You will explore this field through lectures, group discussions and multimedia projects, with the opportunity to work with a range of different technologies. You will study with well-established child development researchers and benefit from the involvement of a range of guest lecturers from Education, Psychology, and Technology.

You will be supported in the development of your thinking through a range of assessments, including presentations, essays, blog posts and collaborative video projects, and have the opportunity to participate in a vibrant research environment, for example attending seminars organised by the Developmental Psychology in Education research group.

This pathway will provide a solid foundation for further study to doctoral level with a focus on children’s development and for those seeking to work with children and young people in an educational profession (for example, as a digital officer for a local authority or educational advisor in a children’s charity).

Pathway structure

You will be required to take a number of compulsory courses and option courses and complete a dissertation in order to earn this MSc degree. 

Compulsory courses

You will take the following courses:

Option courses

In addition, you will complete two option courses (40 credits), selected from a broad range on offer within the School. Option courses are subject to change each year, but have included:

Please note: Autism and Developmental Disabilities, Children and Technology, and the Psychology of Learning and Teaching can also be taken as an option course.

Course Descriptions (2023-24)

This course gave me an opportunity to think critically and engage with concepts that were valuable to other courses. [The course organiser's] detailed responses to final course assessment was very helpful; I will be able to employ the recommendations to improve performance in future assessments.

Sources of Knowledge: Understanding and analysing research literature - nominated for Outstanding Course in the EUSA Teaching Awards 2021


Over the course of studies in semester one and two, our staff will support you to gradually become more independent in your studies. This helps prepare you for your dissertation project. On successful completion of the core and option courses, you will complete a dissertation project which is a piece of independent, original research of 12,000 words.

Once you reach the dissertation stage, you will have a series of small group and one-to-one meetings with your allocated supervisor, who will work closely with you during the dissertation project. One of the benefits of being in a large department is that there is a wide range of staff skills to draw upon so dissertation supervisors are more likely to be specialists in your chosen area of research.

You will be supported to write a dissertation on a topic within developmental psychology, and this might take the form of a systematic review or an empirical piece of work.

Examples of recent dissertations in this pathway area include:

  • The effect of the Daily Mile project on school-aged children's working memory.
  • The role of digital technologies in the lives of home-schooled children with limited health capacities.
  • How do practitioners support relationships between typically developing children and children with autism in a mainstream early years setting?
  • Comparing sex and gender identity as predictors of academic choices, self-efficacy and enjoyment in high school education in China.

Pathway-specific career opportunities

Graduates will develop:

  • A critical awareness of current developmental psychology research.
  • An understanding of the research methods used to help understand the lives of children and young people, and the ethical issues involved when working with children.
  • The capacity to think analytically about the potential applied value of research findings to work with children in educational settings.
  • The ability to critically evaluate the claims made in relation to educational and technological interventions for children and young people.
  • Your own digital skills and understanding of statistics.

Contact us

For further information about this pathway, please contact the Pathway Co-ordinator.

Pathway Co-ordinator: Dr Josie Booth

Apply now

Find detailed entry requirements, fees and costs, and apply for this pathway via the Degree Finder.  

Apply now