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Human Development

Interested in the study of the human lifespan from conception and birth onwards? Human Development investigates how people develop throughout their lives and how cultural and social settings help to shape what is possible.

The Human Development programme explores the development of individuals, families, groups and communities throughout the human lifespan. It is important for those wishing to go into professions such as youth work, eldercare, social work, counselling and teaching. An understanding of human development is relevant to many other careers that involve working with or for people.

Papers  develop skills relevant to career objectives such as human relations, human services, programme planning, community liaison, counselling, policy and evaluation, administration of programs concerned with the family or other groups and research.

Graduates gain a solid foundation in theory and research to understand and explain the development of people from the early years through to old age, have the ability to examine how different contexts influence people's lives, learning and behaviour, and are able to apply this knowledge to specific life situation

Human Development is available as a major and a graduate level subject in the following areas:

Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Social Studies - School of Arts, School of Social Sciences and the School of Education
Bachelor of Social Sciences - School of Education

It may also be taken as a second major or as a supporting subject with other undergraduate degrees (subject to academic approval of the Faculty or School of Studies). Human Development papers also count towards Education and Teaching degrees.

Apply to enrol

Key information

Study Locations:Hamilton, Tauranga, Online
Papers offered differ by location. The Catalogue of Papers has full location info.
Area of Study:

Career opportunities

  • Community or Iwi Development Coordinator
  • Community Educator
  • Policy Analyst/ Advisor
  • Community Advocate
  • Social Services Advocate
  • International Aid Worker
  • Learning Application Developer
  • Trainer

Study in Tauranga

Students in Tauranga can complete a major in Human Development without leaving the Bay. A number of papers are taught at our Tauranga CBD campus, and you'll have online options to choose from as well.

100 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
HELTH110Understanding Hauora, Health and Wellbeing15.024A (Hamilton), 24A (Online) & 24A (Tauranga)
This paper examines a social determinants approach to Health. It includes exploration of a range of interactions that influence the health of populations and determinants of health in New Zealand and global contexts.
HMDEV100Lifespan Development15.024A (Hamilton), 24B (Online) & 24B (Tauranga)
HMDEV100 focuses on understanding and enhancing human development through an exploration of biological, psychological, social and cultural factors that influence patterns of development and learning over the lifespan.
PSYCH101Social Psychology, Health and Well-being15.024B (Hamilton) & 24B (Tauranga)
This paper will introduce major issues in psychology particularly as they relate to health, wellbeing, mental illness, forensic psychology, lifespan development, and social factors in a range of contexts.

200 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
HMDEV200Child Development15.024B (Hamilton)
This paper critically explores a diverse range of theories and perspectives that relate to both historical and current discourses to understanding child development.
HMDEV201Adolescent Development15.024A (Hamilton) & 24G (Tauranga)
The paper promotes a critical study of the construction of theories specific to the developmental stage of adolescence. It introduces theories of adolescence that have been promoted by a range of theorists over time, and considers how these may be socially and culturally constructed. Current discourses about adolescence - and how t...
HMDEV202Adult Development and Ageing15.024A (Online)
This paper draws on theories from developmental psychology, sociology, demography, philosophy and biology to examine learning and change processes through adulthood, and discusses implications for personal and social development.
HMDEV240Group Work for Life Transitions15.024B (Hamilton)
This paper introduces and applies the use of group work skills in various (un)expected life transitions. This paper uses theory from human development, life transitions and group work.
POPST201Population Studies15.024A (Hamilton) & 24A (Online)
This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the multidisciplinary field of Population Studies. Students will develop a sound understanding of the demographic drivers of population change and composition, while exploring some of the rich theories and methodological approaches which comprise Population Studies.
SOCPY201Child Poverty & Social Policy15.024A (Online)
This paper develops students' theoretical understanding of social policy, focusing on the effects of child poverty. We examine how policy shapes and responds to poverty experienced by children and families.

300 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
HMDEV300Children's Development in Families15.024A (Online)
This paper examines the development of children within family and community contexts. Contemporary issues will be investigated with an emphasis on theory and research and their impact on policy and practice.
HMDEV301Critical Issues for Youth in the 21st Century15.024B (Hamilton)
This paper explores new possibilities for human development in a rapidly changing global environment. Analysis and critique of culturally constructed norms sensitive to gender, ability, culture, sexuality and age will be used.
HMDEV302Ageing in a Changing World15.024B (Hamilton)
This paper considers the issues arising for adults as they age. It will critically reflect on issues around positive ageing in a global context.
HMDEV320Disability, Diversity and Inclusion: Intersecting Identities and Experiences15.024B (Online)
This paper looks at the emergence of disability as a social and political identity. Using a rights perspective, it critiques inclusion in the spaces and places of everyday civic society.
HMDEV340Perspectives on Counselling15.024A (Hamilton) & 24A (Tauranga)
This paper examines the philosophical, psychological and sociological principles that underpin the aims and methods of the helping professions in general, and counselling in particular.

500 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
COUNS540Working with Groups30.024B (Block)
This paper explores dialogic group processes with selected kinds of groups. Students will be given the opportunity to develop group membership and leadership roles through observation, participation and evaluation during an experiential workshop format and through on-line discussion and assignments. The paper includes a particular...
COUNS549Counselling and Contexts30.024A (Block) & 24H (Block)
This paper provides an overview of counselling practice and its contexts, including optional modules on school counselling, or addictions. It teaches the skills and ethical perspectives of collaborative approaches to counselling, offering a particular introduction to narrative therapy.
DINST521Critical Studies in Disability and Inclusion30.024A (Online)
This paper critically explores an intersectional understanding of disability and inclusion using Critical Disability Studies and Disability Studies in Education perspectives. It engages with ideas of equality and social inclusion and the social barriers and enablers to equal access in education, health and other social systems. The...
DINST522Inclusion Policy and Practice: A Disability Rights Approach30.024B (Online)
Framed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities, this paper explores learning, living, working and playing from the perspectives of disabled people in Aotearoa and internationally. It looks at how disabled people have and continue to shape the way human rights of disabled people are understood, an...
HMDEV501Development of Children and Young People: International Perspectives30.024A (Online)
This paper provides a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of children and young people's development from birth to 18 years. It discusses research perspectives on optimal development for children and young people within familial, educational and broader social contexts in contemporary societies. Students will be invited to con...
POPST501Population Health and Equity30.024A (Hamilton)
This paper explores population health in Aotearoa/New Zealand and internationally, emphasising the broader determinants of wellbeing and equity. It introduces aspects of epidemiology, considers historical, indigenous and contemporary perspectives of health, and explores relationships between health, community and society.
POPST507Family and Whānau Demography30.024A (Hamilton) & 24A (Online)
This paper introduces students to key theories and contemporary debates in the field of family demography. Particular emphasis will be placed on applying a critical population lens that can be used to understand demographic phenomena. The classes are seminar style and comprise a blend of structured lectures and in-class discussions...

Scholarships and prizes

New to Waikato? The International Excellence Scholarship is worth up to $10,000.

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Human Development is available as a major and graduate level subject in the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences. Papers in this subject are offered by the School of Education.

Students majoring in other Social Sciences disciplines for their BSocSc(Hons) and MSocSc may also consider taking one or two Human Development papers with particular relevance to their major subject: for instance, Psychology majors may be interested in Conflict Resolution, Working with Groups, or Counselling, and Psychology or Social Policy majors with a critical bent might consider taking Young People in Contemporary New Zealand Society and Difference and Diversity in Human Development.

Bachelor of Social Sciences with Honours

To be eligible to be considered for enrolment in the BSocSc(Hons) in Human Development, a student should normally have majored in Human Development in their undergraduate degree and have at least a B average in the best three of their 300 level Human Development papers or all of their undergraduate Human Development papers. Students who have taken an undergraduate major in Psychology will normally be considered to meet the criteria for entry to graduate study in Human Development. Admission requirements vary, so students should consult the Graduate Adviser directly.

To complete a BSocSc(Hons) in Human Development, students must complete 120 points at 500 level, including at least 30 points of research, normally HDCO591 or an equivalent approved by the Programme Convenor and at least 30 further points from papers listed for Human Development. Students who are intending to go on to a MSocSc in Human Development must include an approved research methods paper in their BSocSc(Hons) programme.

Visit Bachelor of Social Sciences to find out more about the entry and requirements for this qualification.

Master of Social Sciences

Entry to the MSocSc in Human Development is open to students who have completed a BSocSc(Hons) in Human Development (or equivalent) and have gained a B+ average across all 500 level papers.

To complete a MSocSc in Human Development, students must take a 120 point thesis, a 90 point thesis and 30 points from approved 500 level papers, or a 60 point dissertation and 60 points from approved 500 level papers. MSocSc students who have not completed an approved research methods paper in their honours degree must include an approved research methods paper in their masters programme.

Visit Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc) to find out more about the entry and requirements for this qualification.

Postgraduate Certificate

Entry to the PGCert(HumDev) is open to suitably qualified candidates who have completed study at an advanced level and satisfied any prerequisites for graduate study in Human Development.

Students must gain 60 points at 500 level or above in Human Development.

Visit Postgraduate Certificate to find out more about the entry and requirements for this qualification.

Postgraduate Diploma

Entry to the PGDip(HumDev) is open to suitably qualified candidates who have completed study at an advanced level and satisfied any prerequisites for graduate study in Human Development.

Students must gain 120 points at 500 level or above, including 90 points in Human Development.

Visit Postgraduate Diploma to find out more about the entry and requirements for this qualification.


Te Kura Toi Tangata School of Education

Phone: 0800 WAIKATO (924 528) or 07 838 4176

International: +64 7 807 9275
Email: [email protected]

Phone: 0800 WAIKATO (924 528) or 07 838 4176

International: +64 7 807 9275
Email: [email protected]