Research Methods in Psychology MSc/PGDip/PGCert

  • Programme duration: Full-time: 12 months  
  • Programme start: September 2022
  • Entry requirements: You will need a good first degree in psychology or related subject (minimum 2:1 with equivalent marks in modules focused on methods and statistics), or extensive research experience
Research Methods in Psychology msc

Module details

This 12 month programme consists of four taught modules, and a research project carried out over the summer.

Compulsory modules

Research Methods and Statistics (PSYC640)
Credit level30
SemesterFirst Semester
Exam:Coursework weighting50:50

To highlight the importance of research and professional ethics in psychology. 
To broaden students understanding of the range of quantitative and qualitative psychological research methods available to them.
To familiarise students with the concepts, underlying principles and general purposes of basic and advanced data analysis techniques in psychology.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Critically evaluate the principles underlying qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.

(LO2) Select an appropriate research design and method of analysis to answer a research question.

(LO3) Apply appropriate techniques for conducting descriptive and inferential statistics.

(S1) Communication, oral, written and visual. Academic writing including referencing skills.

(S2) Critical thinking and problem solving. Critical analysis.

(S3) Research skills. Ethical awareness.

(S4) Skills in using technology. Using common applications, work processing, databases, spreadsheets etc.

(S5) Numeracy and computational skills. Reason with numbers and mathematical concepts.

(S6) Numeracy and computational skills. Confidence and competence in measuring and using numbers.

(S7) Numeracy and computational skills. Numerical methods.

Advanced Experimental Methods (PSYC641)
Credit level30
SemesterSecond Semester
Exam:Coursework weighting0:100

Provide students with a conceptual and historical background to the wide variety of experimental techniques which have been adopted in psychological research.
Allow students to critically evaluate different experimental techniques in areas such as addiction, appetite and obesity, EEG, language acquisition, experimental psychopathology, and sensation and perception.
Provide students with an opportunity to gain practical experience working in one of the School's laboratories and to bring to fruition a small-scale research project under the guidance of a research-active supervisor.
Equip students more generally with the ability to critique published research, considering the strengths and weaknesses of methodology, experimental design, and underpinning theories.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Demonstrate a knowledge of the historical precedents of contemporary psychological research.

(LO2) Demonstrate a critical understanding of advanced experimental design and analysis.

(LO3) Critically evaluate different experimental techniques, and demonstrate a critical awareness of the limitations of these techniques and their application.

(LO4) Implement established experimental techniques in areas such as addiction, appetite and obesity, EEG, language acquisition, and sensation and perception.

(S1) Writing skills

(S2) Statistical skills

(S3) IT skills

(S4) Communication Skills

(S5) Lifelong learning skills

Advanced Statistics and Methods (PSYC643)
Credit level30
SemesterSecond Semester
Exam:Coursework weighting60:40

• The module aims to introduce students to the concepts, underlying principles, and general purpose of a range of advanced quantitative data analysis techniques.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Critically appraise the use of different statistical techniques and their suitability for addressing different research questions.

(LO2) Analyse complex research questions through robust statistical testing informed by evidence based judgments.

(LO3) Communicate research findings verbally and in writing, using a format appropriate for an academic audience.

(S1) Numeracy (application of) manipulation of numbers, general mathematical awareness and its application in practical contexts’ and another skill ‘Information technology (application of) adopting, adapting and using digital devices, applications and service’

Practical Research Skills (PSYC644)
Credit level30
SemesterFirst Semester
Exam:Coursework weighting0:100

To provide students with the knowledge necessary to decide whether or not to pursue a career in academia and, if so, to obtain a PhD place, following by a Postdoctoral Fellowship and Full-time academic appointment.
To provide students with the skills necessary for writing successful PhD and research grant proposals.
To provide students with the knowledge and skills required for effectively communicating their research in a variety of forms, journal articles, posters, oral presentations, and to understand the importance of publication in high quality journals.
To provide students with the knowledge required for research consultancy work, and for dealing with the media.
To provide knowledge and training in the use of relevant computer software e.g. Excel, Refworks, Endnote.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Students will obtain a systematic understanding of the different aspects of a career as an academic including obtaining a PhD place, a full-time academic appointment and research funding, publishing peer-reivewed journal articles, and working with the public and media.

(LO2) Students will gain a critical awareness of current issues and debates in this area including the assessment of academics via the Research Evaluation Framework (REF), the use of metrics (impact factors, citations) and University league tables and the reduced levels of RCUK funding. This knowledge will be informed by the students' work with researchers who are at the forefront of academia, and have considerable experience with these issues.

Research Dissertation in Psychology (PSYC646)
Credit level60
SemesterWhole Session
Exam:Coursework weighting0:100

During the first semester, students will receive more detailed information about the dissertations on offer.  Most supervisors will offer one or two projects and these will cover a variety of research questions involving different research methods and techniques.  Supervisors from other university departments/schools offer projects, but in this case a member of the School of Psychology will act as a second supervisor. All available options will be briefly summarised, and students will be encouraged to make contact with those supervisors whose dissertations most interest them.  In some cases it may be possible to work with another student on the same project. 

Dissertation Plan:
Once a project has been assigned, it is important that students make an early start on their research plan. Before the start of the second semester, students are required to submit a plan of their research. 
This will include a short review of the relevant previous research with a rationale for the proposed study, the methods to be employed, a description of how subjects are to be recruited and how the data will be collected and analysed.  
A timetable should also be included together with an exploration of potential problems and contingency plans.  

Ethical approval: 
Please refer to the accompanying section. Structure of dissertation: Details on this and advice on the preparation and writing of the report appear in an accompanying section.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) The student will learn the basic principles of carrying out a piece of supervised research on a topic within contemporary psychology.

(LO2) The student will acquire and enhance skills of analytical thinking, empirical design, data analysis and understanding, academic report writing, and oral presentation of research findings.

(LO3) The student will learn to relate a piece of empirical investigation to the broader scientific context within contemporary psychology.

Introduction to Statistics and Methods I PSYC640 (30 credits)

This module aims: to introduce students to basic principles of experimental design; to highlight the importance of research ethics; to introduce the notion of hypothesis testing and behavioural sampling; to familiarise students with descriptive statistics, correlations and associations, non parametric tests and parametric tests; to introduce students to the analysis of naturally occurring language and biographical methods; to introduce students to unobtrusive measurement, content analysis and ethnographic research; to introduce students to open, semi structured and structured interviewing as well as focus groups.

Advanced Experimental Methods PSYC641 (30 credits)

This module aims to: provide students with a conceptual and historical background to a wide variety of experimental techniques which have been adopted in psychological research; provide students with practical experience of working in laboratories and carrying out a small piece of research under the guidance of a research-active supervisor; developing students with an ability to critically evaluate research methods, experimental designs and underpinning theories.

Advanced Statistics and Methods II PSYC643 (30 credits)

The aims of this module are: Quantitative: To introduce the concepts, underlying principles, and general purpose of a range of advanced data analysis techniques. Topics include mixed models, structural equation modelling and time series analysis. Students will learn how to conduct a selection of these analyses using relevant statistical software during supervised Practical sessions. Qualitative: To provide high-level research training in the social sciences and training in their selected discipline (eg planning, politics).

Practical Research Skills PSYC644 (30 credits)

This module will provide students with the knowledge and skills required for effective communication and management of their research in a variety of forms. Students consider appropriate formats, styles, communication skills and how to use effective graphics in their presentations. They also consider the ethical and professional issues that arise when conducting academic research, and learn about effective project organisation and management. Later sessions in the module consider communication with the ‘outside world’, including what to expect when working with the media. Finally, students learn how to write proposals, how to choose the right time to submit a proposal and how to communicate ideas effectively for applications.