module specification

SW7053 - Critical Aspects of Human Growth and Development (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Critical Aspects of Human Growth and Development
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 10
School School of Social Professions
Total study hours 100
20 hours Placement / study abroad
50 hours Guided independent study
30 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   E-Portfolio of tasks
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

This module critically examines sociological and psychological theories of human growth and development and through critical reflection and application helps to prepare students for effective social work with children and adult service user groups.

Module aims

This module provides opportunities for students to:

  • Develop effective social work knowledge, skills and values through critical examination of and reflection on sociological and psychological theories of child development and evaluate their application through observational skills.
  • Critically analyse and develop a comprehensive understanding of ‘normal’ child developmental milestones within the context of diverse cultures, contested ideas and relevant legislative and policy frameworks.
  • Gain insight into the lived experience of adults who use services in order to emphasise, as well as to explain, critically analyse and evaluate, specific difficulties encountered because of ill-health, impairment, disabling contexts and the support people who use services value.
  • Develop their understanding of the significance of ethics and anti-oppressive theory and practice


The contribution of a range of psychological and sociological theories of, research into and perspectives on, development through the human life-course
The relevant developmental milestones and factors that promote sound physical, social, emotional and cognitive development in children and young people
The significance of relationships for human development including between children and their families, carers and peers
The impact on development of contexts including social, family and community structures Understanding the role of and developing skill in child observation in order to apply and critically evaluate theory and research.
The significance of anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice and service user perspectives
Theory, research and models of understanding disability, impairment, loss and bereavement
Understanding key features associated with mental health diagnoses (e.g. depression and schizophrenia); learning disability, physical impairment including: treatment and support, disabling contexts and effects on lifestyle and opportunities;
Myths and realities of ageing including types of ill health associated with older age; caring roles and experiences.
Substance misuse: treatment and support

Learning and teaching

A range of learning and teaching strategies and skills development are employed in this module: These include lectures and smaller group seminar activities, role play, reading discussion groups, case-study analysis, child observation in the community and critical reflection, service user led seminars and workshops, Weblearn, video materials and online educational content

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will:

LO1 Engage in a critical analysis of the relevant sociological and psychological theories which attempt to explain human growth and development across the life course, including those from different cultures and with diverse needs.

LO2 Evaluate the contested nature of developmental theories through direct observation of a child.

LO3 Articulate and explain normal development in childhood and provide explanations of the potential adverse effects on development of experiences such as  change, loss, abuse and disruption.

LO4 Analyse how people’s identities are informed by their life experiences including impairments, disability and discrimination, and reflect on the support they find most valuable

LO5 Critically evaluate specific day to day difficulties of, and disadvantages faced by people with learning disabilities, experience and diagnoses of mental illness, long-term physical impairment, bereavement and loss and substance misuse in a context of human diversity and experience.

Assessment strategy

An e-portfolio of tasks (100%) (LO1-5): a critical analysis of a child development and critical reflection on learning about adult service user groups.


Adams, R., Dominelli, P. and Payne, M. (2009) Critical Practice in Social Work. (2nd edn) Hampshire: Palgrave.
Barn, R. (Ed) (2003) Working with Black Children and Adolescence in Need. BAAF
Beckett, C. (2002) Human Growth and Development. London: Sage.
Doel, M. and Best, L. (2008) Experiencing Social Work: learning from Service Users. London: Sage.
Crawford, K. and Walker, J. (2010) Social Work and Human Development (3rd edn.) Exeter: Learning Matters/Sage.
Daniel, B, Wassell, S. and Gilligan, R. (2010) 2nd edition Child Development for Child Care and Protection Workers. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Davies, M. (ed) (2013) The Blackwell Companion to Social Work (4th edn.) Blackwell.
Davey, B. (ed) (2001) Birth to Old Age in Transition Oxford: OU Press.
Dwivedi, K. (ed) (2002) Meeting the Needs of Ethnic Minority Children - Including Refugee, Black and Mixed Parentage Children. A Handbook for Professionals. London: JKP.
Fawcett, M. (2009) Learning Through Child Observation. (2nd edn.) London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Green, L. (2010) Understanding the Life Course Cambridge: Polity Press
Hockey, J. and James, A. (2003) Social identities across the life course. Basingstoke. Palgrave
Howe, D (2011) Attachment across the life course: A brief Introduction Palgrave
Howe, D. (2005) Child Abuse and Neglect: Attachment, Development and Intervention Basingstoke Palgrave Macmillian
Priestley, M. (2004) Disability: A Life Course Approach. Cambridge: Polity.
Robinson, L. (2007) Cross-Cultural Child Development for Social Workers: An Introduction. Hampshire Palgrave
Sheridan, M. (2001) From Birth to Five Years. London: Routledge
Sudbery, J. (2010) Human Growth and Development: An introduction for social workers. London: Routledge.
Wilson, K., Ruch, G., Lymberry, M. and Cooper, A. (2008) Social Work: An Introduction to Contemporary Practice. Harlow: Longman.