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Unit information: Developmental Disorders of Communication in 2015/16

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Unit name Developmental Disorders of Communication
Unit code PSYC31049
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1B (weeks 7 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Jarrold
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Psychological Science
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

The study of developmental disorders is relevant, not only to those conditions themselves, but also to our understanding of typical development. In addition, by focussing on developmental disorders of communication this course links to more general theoretical questions of language development. The course itself consists of introductory lectures that highlight these, more general, theoretical themes, before subsequent lectures focus in more detail on the specific cases of: deprivation and otitis media, general learning difficulties, Down syndrome, specific language impairment, Williams syndrome, autism, speech disorders, and dyslexia. Students are also introduced to recent computational approaches to the modelling of atypical language development. A series of tutorials run alongside the lectures and aim to develop student's critical understanding of the key theoretical themes of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit, students will be able to:

  • describe the psychological characteristics of a range of developmental disorders at a general level, and the language problems associated with these conditions in more detail;
  • explain how these strengths and weaknesses fit within the broader framework of the typical pattern of development of language and communication;
  • use this evidence to critically evaluate theoretical approaches to cognitive development.

Teaching Information

This unit comprises 18 x 1 hour lectures plus 3 x 1 hour tutorials.

Assessment Information

Coursework: 1x 1600 word essay

Examination: 1x 2 hour exam

Final Grade: based on 70% exam and 30% coursework

Reading and References

  • Hulme, C. & Snowling, M. J. (2009). Developmental disorders of language learning and cognition. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. RJ506.D47 HUL
  • Bishop, D. V. M. (1997). Uncommon understanding: Development and disorders of language comprehension in children. Hove, UK: Psychology Press. RJ496.135 BIS
  • Bishop, D., & Mogford, K. (Eds.) (1993). Language development in exceptional circumstances. Hove, UK: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. LB1139.L3 LAN
  • Boucher, J. (2009). The autism spectrum: characteristics, causes and practical issues. London, UK. Sage. BF674 BOU
  • Pinker, S. (1995). The language instinct. London: Penguin. P106 PIN
  • Pinker, S. (2000). Words and rules. London: Phoenix. P118 PIN