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Developmental Psychology Section

The Developmental Psychology Section promotes the scientific study of the cognitive, emotional, social, perceptual, and biological changes in humans that occur from before birth, through infancy, childhood, adolescence and into adulthood.


Since its inaugural meeting in 1972, the Developmental Psychology Section has had two primary missions.

The first is to encourage, and support the development of high quality research into all aspects of developmental psychology.

The second is to raise and promote the profile of British developmental research, on both a local and international level, with policy-makers, practitioners, and the general public.


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Developmental Psychology Section

Developmental Psychology Forum


Developmental Psychology Forum

Forum is one of the major ways in which the Developmental Psychology Section achieves its aim to promote the advancement and diffusion of psychological knowledge concerning human development to maturity by the exchange of specialist knowledge.

Download the forum

Awards and funding

Distinguished Contributions Award

This award recognises distinguished contributions to British Developmental Psychology.

This award will be presented to a candidate who has made substantial contributions to research in Developmental Psychology or through Developmental Psychology to wider society. The latter may be in the realms of higher education teaching, changing government policy, communication of science to the general public or implementation of interventions. A substantial proportion of time should have been spent working in the UK.

  • Candidates should be nominated by an academic or professional peer
  • The letter of nomination should evidence the substantial contributions made by the nominee
  • The nomination should be support by the nominee’s C.V. and a letter from an additional referee
How to apply

Submit your nomination here using our online portal

We advise that you prepare your submission on a word document or alternative. Download an example of the online form to prepare your submission.

Submission Deadline: Midnight Wednesday 15 December

The award winner:

  • Receive the Distinguished Contributions Award Certificate
  • The winner of the award will be invited to deliver a keynote address at the annual Developmental Section Annual Conference
  • Free registration at the annual Developmental Section Annual Conference
Judging process

The Section Committee will appoint an award sub-committee to adjudicate submissions.

Margaret Donaldson Early Career Prize

Submissions are now closed

Awarded Annually for Outstanding Contributions to Developmental Psychology

This annual award is for outstanding early career contributions to the field of developmental psychology.  The winning candidate will have made an outstanding contribution within any field of developmental psychology; this will be evident in some or all of theory development, originality and innovation in methodology, along with other indicators of esteem.

Eligibility criteria
  • Applicants from previous years are eligible to re-apply, and are encouraged to do this.
  • Candidates are eligible for consideration up to and including 10 years following the award of a PhD.
  • Candidates need not be a member of the BPS but they must be resident in the United Kingdom.
  • Career breaks are not included in the 10 year post PhD completion time, and in accordance with EDI initiatives were supportive of diverse career paths. 
How to apply
  • Applicants can either nominate themselves or they can be nominated by a colleague. Heads of Department and senior faculty members are particularly encouraged to nominate eligible colleagues.
  • Nominations should include a one-page statement outlining the candidate's contribution to developmental psychology plus a full CV. 
Judging process

The Section Committee will appoint an award sub-committee to adjudicate submissions

The award winner
  • Receive the Margaret Donaldson Early Career Prize Certificate
  • The winner of the award will be invited to deliver a keynote address at the annual Developmental Section Annual Conference
  • Free registration at the Developmental Section Annual Conference

The Neil OConnor Award

Submissions are now closed

This annual award is for a piece of published research on cognitive conditions that appear in development and persist throughout life

Neil O'Connor was one of the UK's foremost experimental psychologists, and a pioneer in applying experimental methods to the study of developmental conditions. Friends, relatives and former colleagues have contributed to a trust fund that allows this award to be made annually.

Eligibility criteria
  • Conditions may be of a perceptual, cognitive, social or emotional nature and can include (but are not confined to) deafness, blindness, learning disabilities, dyslexia, language disorder, aphasia, Williams syndrome, Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, autism, ADHD.
  • The candidate must be either the sole or main author of the article concerned. In the case of multiple authors, the relative contribution of different authors must be outlined. The prize and the invitation to speak will be offered to the main author.
  • The candidate should be studying for a PhD or not more than 10 years post-PhD.
  • The publication must be accepted into a peer-refereed journal bearing the date 2019 or later (including articles in press).
  • There is no geographic restriction, but submissions must be in English.
How to apply
  • Applicants can either nominate themselves or they can be nominated by a colleague. Heads of Department and senior faculty members are particularly encouraged to nominate eligible colleagues.
  • Nominations should include a copy of the publication and a copy of the applicant’s CV. 
Judging process

The Section Committee will appoint an award sub-committee to adjudicate submissions.

The award winner
  • Receive the Neil O'Connor Award Certificate
  • The winner of the award will be invited to deliver a keynote address at the annual Developmental Section Annual Conference
  • Free registration at the Developmental Section Annual Conference

Postgraduate Student Bursaries

Financial Assistance is available for current postgraduate students who are members of the Developmental Section to attend our conference in Sheffield (14th-16th September 2022)

Awards could contribute towards registration, accommodation, or travel to the conference. Please request the financial assistance that you require but be mindful that we do have a limited budget and that the maximum award that will be made to an individual is £400.

All recipients of the award will be expected to volunteer some time at the conference to support the committee with the smooth running of the conference. This could involve being on hand to help make sure that things are set up at the beginning of sessions, e.g. that the session chair has arrived and that the AV system is working and signposting delegates around the hotel to the different sessions. Training and instruction will be given, and we anticipate that this experience should complement your own involvement in the conference – and certainly will not detract from it. Upon receipt of your bursary the conference organisers will contact you to discuss your contribution.

In addition, all recipients of the award will be expected write a short (approx. 400 words) piece for Developmental Forum. This could be a review of the conference or a piece on a topic relating to your research. You will be given some direction for this and support from one of our editors.

Applications are welcome until the closing date of 5th August 2022. Applications will be assessed by a sub-committee of the BPS Developmental Committee. Applications will be assessed on the case for need for funding requested and the benefits of attendance. Decisions will be made and communicated by the 19th August 2022.


The award is open to postgraduates registered for degrees at any UK or Republic of Ireland institution.

Applicants must be members of the BPS Developmental Psychology Section.

Application Process

Applicants will be required to provide:

  1. Name
  2. Organisation/affiliation
  3. BPS membership number
  4. Confirmation that they are a member of the Developmental Section
  5. A statement of not more than 150 words providing a brief explanation of why a bursary is needed (e.g., because a postgraduate student is not funded by a research council or their institution), why the applicant should be awarded a bursary, and how she or he will benefit from attending the conference.
  6. Details of any funding being requested (accommodation/registration/travel/etc), including cost breakdown.

Applications will be online Developmental Section Bursary 2022

Further conditions

Late applications will not be accepted and only the first 150 words of any statements that exceed the word limits will be considered.

You will be required to submit receipts as evidence of your expenses to claim the award within one month of the conference. You may submit receipts in advance of the conference with proof of purchase. Note, if you are unable to subsequently attend the conference, you must reimburse the BPS Developmental Section for any claims made. In order to be eligible, it is expected that applicants will pay early bird registration fees.

Decisions will be final, and no correspondence will be entered into regarding unsuccessful applications.

2021 Award Winners

  • Neil O’Connor Award: Dr. Saloni Krishnan for paper titled ‘Functional organisation for verb generation in children with developmental language disorder’
  • Margaret Donaldson Award: Professor Helen Dodd
  • Distinguished Contribution Award: Professor Josef Perner 

Previous winners

Distinguished Contribution Award

2020: Professor Dieter Wolke

2019: Professor Simon Baron-Cohen

2018: Professor Dorothy Bishop (University of Oxford)

2017: Professor Annette Kamiloff-Smith (Birkbeck: University of London)

2016: Professor Bruce Hood (University of Bristol)

Margaret Donaldson Early Career Prize

2020: Dr Jo Van Herwegen

2019: Dr Karla Holmboe

2018: Dr Harriet Over (University of York)

2017: Dr Lucy Cragg (University of Nottingham)

2016: Dr Sue Fletcher-Watson (University of Edinburgh)

2015: Dr Antsushi Senju (Birkbeck: Univrsity of London)

2014: Dr Debbie Riby (Durham University)

2013: Dr Andrew Bremner (Goldsmiths College, University of London)

2012: Dr Gaia Scerif (Oxford University)

2011: Dr Sarah Beck (University of Birmingham)

2010: Dr Victoria Southgate (Birkbeck College: University of London)

2008: Dr Ian Apperley (University of Birmingham)

2006: Dr Denis Marescal (Birkbeck College: University of London)

The Neil O'Connor Award

2020: Dr Lucy Livingston

2019: Dr Chloe Lane

2018: Dr Giorgia Michelini (King's College London)

2017: Dr Jessica Hodgson (University of Lincoln)

2016: Dr Teodora Gliga (Birkbeck College: University of London)

2015: Dr Victoria Simms (Ulster University)

2014: Dr Sarah White (University College London)

2013: Dr Mayada Elisabbagh (Birkbeck: University of London)

2012: Dr Anna Remington (Oxford)

2011: Dr Antsushi Senju (Birkbeck: University of London)

2010: Dr Matthew Belmonte (National Brain Research Centre, Manesar, India)

2009: Dr Emily Farran (Institute of Education)

2008: Dr Angelica Ronld (Birkbeck: University of London)

2007: Dr Elisa Back (Birmingham)

2006: Dr Elizabeth Pellicano (Oxford)

2005: Dr Rebecca Greenaway (Cambridge)

2004: Dr Courtenay Norbury (Oxford)

2003: Dr Gaia Scerif (University College London)

2002: Dr Tyron Woolfe (Sheffield)

2000: Dr Chris Jarrold (Bristol)


Chair: Debbie Riby

Chair Elect: Vacant

Honorary Treasurer: Hayley Cooper

Honorary Secretary: Vacant

Newsletter Editor

  • Amy Pearson
  • Emily McDougal

Information Officer: Thomas Gallagher-Mitchell

Committee Members:

  • Charlotte Bagnall
  • Sheila Cunningham
  • Rachel Nesbit
  • Saloni Krishnan
  • Sarah Rose
  • Ellen Ridley
  • Josephine Ross

BJDP Representatives

  • Harriet Tenenbaum
  • Michaela Gummerum

Conference planning representatives

  • Sarah Rose
  • Hayley Gilman

PsyPAG Representative: Vacant

JSPD Representative: Hiromi Tsuji


Membership of the Deveopmental Psychology Section is only open to members of the British Psychological Society.

If you are not already a BPS member, you can join the Section at the same time as applying for membership of the society.

Apply to join the society

Benefits of belonging

Benefits of Developmental Psychology Section Membership

  • Full access to our website
  • Opportunities to influence and take part in the development of the section
  • Opportunity to voice your opinion, either at the Section’s AGM and/or by becoming a member of the section’s committee
  • Regular updates via our membership announcement email list

Member Announcement Email List

The Developmental Psychology Section uses its membership announcement email list to inform its members of activities and initiatives that are relevant to their interests and to make requests for engagement on topical issues. 

By becoming a member of the Section you are automatically added to the announcement list.

To receive these emails you will need to:

  1. become a member of the Developmental Psychology Section
  2. opt into receiving email communication and provide a working email address

These preferences can be updated by logging into your member portal.

If you have any queries, please contact Member Network Services.

To assist us in responding to your query please make sure to include your membership number and quote 'Developmental Psychology Section announcement email' in the subject line.

Getting involved with the Developmental Psychology Section committee

The Developmental Psychology Section relies on a wide range of people getting involved, and the work of the Section is largely achieved through the dedication of unpaid volunteers.

Our volunteers come from a wide range of different backgrounds, whether they be practitioners or academics, or full members or student members, and together form an open and inclusive community.