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Issues in Families and Development

University of Warwick

Department of Psychology 2021/22

Module Code:


Module Name:

Issues in Families and Development

Module Credits (CATS):


Module Convener

Fiona MacCallum

Module Teachers

Hester Duffy & Fiona MacCallum

Module Aims

This is an advanced module focusing on child development in unusual circumstances, whether because of the family situation or a disorder of development. The first part of the module focuses on child development in different family situations, including single parent families, same-sex couple families, families created using assisted reproduction, and adoptive families. The significance of other family factors, such as parental psychological health and interparental relationships, for child development is also considered. The second part of the module focuses on difficulties and disorders of development, including dyslexia, autism, attention deficit disorder and language impairment. Issues in the definition and diagnosis of developmental disorders are also examined.

Please note: If students wish to take this module, they are required to have completed

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Show an understanding of the interaction between genetics and the environment in determining a child’s development

  • Assess the influence of interparental conflict and parental psychiatric disorder on children’s psychological development

  • Understand how family structure can affect development, with particular reference to parental absence and non-genetic relationships

  • Identify the aspects of parenting and child development that may differ between natural conception families and those created through assisted reproduction or adoption, and explain the reasons for these differences

  • Consider the issues involved in prognosis of children with developmental disorders, and how these can be affected by intervention

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the symptoms and possible causes of a range of developmental difficulties, including autism, language impairment and ADHD

Assessed by:

Essay & exam

Module Work Load

Module Length

12 Weeks


Around 2-hour lecture each week


One seminar each week (online and synchronous)


Attendance at lectures and seminars is compulsory

Module Assessment

Assessed work:






Module Programme

1 Parental psychiatric difficulties and interparental conflict 2 Single parent families 3 Lesbian mother and gay father families 4 Assisted reproduction families 5 adoptive families 6 Language impairment 7 Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder 8 Autism and pervasive developmental disorders 9 Deafness 10 Dyslexia

1 Revision 2 Revision

Module Reading List

Empson, J. (2015) Atypical Child Development in Context. (2nd ed.) London: Palgrave Golombok, S. (2015) Modern Families. Cambridge: CUP Golombok, S. (2000) Parenting: What really counts? London: Routledge Norbury, C. F., Tomblin, B., & Bishop, D. V. M. (2008) Understanding developmental language disorders: from Theory to Practice. Hove: Psychology