MSc Psychology: Developmental Psychology


Program Description

Developmental Psychology

Are you curious about how psychological and biological factors, such as genetics and biochemistry, play a role in cognitive development? Do you want to investigate which factors contribute to the development of disorders such as autism or dyslexia? Are you interested in learning how to measure brain processes and use various diagnostic tools? Then the master’s specialisation in Developmental Psychology could be right for you. You’ll study the most recent developmental theories and research findings. And you’ll learn to apply various diagnostic and research tools in the clinical field and developmental research. This will make you well-prepared to work as a psychologist or researcher in mental health or educational institutions.

Why this programme?

The master’s specialisation in Developmental Psychology will help you understand how certain behaviours and cognitive functions relate to a person’s psychological and biological constitution and the development of the brain. The cognitive-biological orientation of this programme is unique in Europe. You’ll study the most recent developmental theories and research findings. And you’ll learn to apply various diagnostic and research tools in the clinical field and developmental research.

You’ll learn what is needed over a lifespan, both biologically and environmentally, to develop normal:

  • audition & vision
  • memory & attention
  • language
  • emotion
  • social perception
  • motor skills

In addition to healthy development, you’ll study several common developmental disorders, including:

  • ADHD
  • Autism
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Williams syndrome

Programme outline

The programme has four compulsory courses:

  • Infancy: provides an overview of the development of cognitive and social-emotional functions during the first two years of life.
  • Perception, attention, and motor development: deals with typical and atypical (ADHD, Tourette’s syndrome) development of these functions in childhood, adolescence and adulthood.
  • Development of cognition and language: provides an overview of typical and atypical (dyscalculia, dyslexia) life-long development of higher cognitive functions (short- and long-term memory, arithmetic, language).
  • Social and emotional development: deals with biological, personality and environmental factors underlying social-emotional and moral development.

You'll also take a number of professional skills trainings in addition to completing an internship and writing your thesis.

Professional skills

You will learn the skills important for a career as a psychologist in applied settings, such as applying and designing instruments that measure cognitive function (like IQ) in infants and children. You’ll also learn scientific skills, such as how to design a developmental experiment and how to measure brain processes using EEG and ERP.

In the second semester, you’ll put these skills into practice during your research internship, which you can do under the guidance of experts in the Netherlands or abroad.

Linking up with ongoing research

The themes of the Developmental Psychology specialisation are closely linked to research of our staff. They include:

  • typical and atypical (ADHD, autism) development of executive control, attention, memory and number processing
  • cognitive training in typical and atypical development
  • life-span social-emotional development in healthy people and in autism

This close link between education and research offers you many opportunities to participate in ongoing research. You will also have access to various instruments to measure behaviour (observational environments, questionnaires and neuropsychological tests) as well as brain imaging techniques (EEG/ERP). This provides you with the opportunity to develop both clinically and scientifically relevant skills. The group has access to excellent lab facilities (eye movement equipment, EEG, fMRI) and mobile EEG equipment for measurements at schools and other organisations.

Internship & thesis

Research internship

The research internship gives you the opportunity to participate in the ongoing research of the faculty’s academic staff or to work with external academic or clinical institutions. You will design and pursue your own research question, which will be the foundation of your master's thesis.

You can choose the subject of your research internship from a wide variety of topics that fit within your chosen specialisation. The internship can be done in the Netherlands or abroad.

Clinical internship (addition to standard programme)

You also have the option to do a clinical internship in addition to the normal programme, which will give you the clinical experience needed to meet the requirements for a professional clinical training programme in the Netherlands (obtainment of BAPD).

Thesis topics

Students have covered the following topics:

  • Autism and prenatal testosterone levels, University of Cambridge
  • Comparing physical cognition in Great Apes, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
  • Social cognition change in 12 to 21 year olds, Kings College London
  • The influence of negative emotions on day dreaming in children, Maastricht University
  • Executive functions and creativity in children, University of Edinburgh

Problem-Based Learning

As with many Maastricht University programmes, the Developmental Psychology programme is taught using Problem-Based Learning (PBL). In small tutorial groups of 10 to 12 students, you'll seek solutions to ‘problems’ taken from real-world situations. Instructors act as facilitators, giving help as it’s needed. This allows you to build independence and develop problem-solving skills that you’ll need in the field. This active, dynamic and collaborative learning method has one of the highest knowledge retention rates of any instructional method.

International classroom

From day one of the programme, you’ll be challenged with differing viewpoints and experiences as you interact with staff and students from all over the world. Your worldview will be enhanced by this interaction, bringing you closer to the programme’s goal of teaching students not only facts and concepts but also international accessibility and understanding. Roughly 80% of the students in this master’s programme come from outside the Netherlands. Such diversity creates an international atmosphere that is strengthened by the international orientation of the programme.

PREMIUM honours programme

Want to gain that extra edge by getting real-world experience during your studies? The PREMIUM honours programme will help you gain the experience and develop the skills employers are looking for. As part of a team of students and under the guidance of our academic staff, you’ll spend about three months working on a real-world assignment for a company, NGO or educational institution. You'll also work on a personal development plan, receive intensive individual coaching and attend master classes and workshops. All of this will take about 250 hours, but it will give you a lifetime of benefits.

Admission Requirements

See website

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Last updated Apr 2020

About the School

Dear prospective student, Thank you for your interest in our master's programme. Please use the form to request our newest study brochure 2016-2017.

Dear prospective student, Thank you for your interest in our master's programme. Please use the form to request our newest study brochure 2016-2017. Read less
Maastricht , Valencia , Valencia , Lüneburg , Valencia + 4 More Less