module specification

PC4008 - Experimental Psychology and Research Methods (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Experimental Psychology and Research Methods
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 300
219 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 15%   001 Portfolio 1
Coursework 20% 40 002 Report 1 (Maximum 2000 words)
Coursework 15%   003 Portfolio 2
Coursework 20% 40 004 Report 2 (Maximum 2000 words)
Unseen Examination 30%   005 Unseen Examination (Two Hours)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Wednesday Morning

Module summary

This module is designed to introduce students to research design and data analysis in psychology, and to develop their understanding of, and skills in, the scientific study of psychological phenomena. Students will also be introduced to the American Psychological Association (APA) style for the written reporting of psychological research.
A significant element of this module is practical work.  Students will be required to act as participants in example experiments from a range of psychological areas in order both to experience taking the role of research participant, and to develop their understanding of various aspects of the research process.

Module aims

The aims of this module are aligned with the qualification descriptors within the Quality Assurance Agency’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications. Specifically, this module aims to introduce students to the practice of conducting and reporting research in psychology, and to develop students’ skills in identifying, analysing and evaluating information. Students will develop their understanding of the link between psychological research questions and psychological investigation methods, and will be introduced to simple data description and analysis techniques; to a range of research methods employed in psychological investigation; and to computer applications that contribute to the conduct and presentation of psychological research. Consideration will be given to codes of practice for psychology researchers, ethics in psychology research, and research reporting conventions. As such, this module encourages students to develop practical, intellectual and interpersonal skills that are of use in many employment settings, and also provides students with a toolkit of intellectual and practical academic skills which will assist their progression to modules at levels 5 & 6.


This module allows students the opportunity to practice and develop their skills in psychology using the scientific method. The syllabus includes an introduction to research design, including the match between research design and research questions; different methods for gathering research data in psychology; research ethics and the BPS code of conduct; summarising and presenting data; using data analysis software; and the conduct and reporting of basic analyses of data.

The experimental psychology syllabus will include an introduction to the structure and purpose of a research report; how to write and format each section of a research report; APA style for scientific writing; and APA referencing style. In addition, this module will introduce students to ways in which they can appropriately include discussion of good practice in the design and conduct of research (including research ethics) within a research report. Finally, this module will involve students in active participation in a range of psychology experiments.

Learning and teaching

The module is delivered through a variety of teaching and learning methods. Lectures will deliver core research methods, report writing, and data handling material to students (e.g., key concepts, calculations, data presentation formats) and provide a framework for further reading and independent study. Workshops provide an opportunity for students to seek clarification of concepts and processes covered in the lectures and to check their understanding of these concepts and processes through a range of discussions and practical exercises. IT workshops deliver core IT material to students. Practical classes will enable students’ experiential learning of the process of experimental research in psychology, as well as providing students with the research examples upon which their written reports will be based.

Students’ active engagement in these elements is essential to success on this module. Students will be supported in their learning through the provision of directed reading and exercises, and through online learning materials, and through opportunities for engagement with peers and the teaching team. Students are responsible for engaging with these activities in a timely manner and for using formative feedback provided in relation to both contributory assessments (practical reports) and non-contributory assessments (directed private study activities) to facilitate learning and reflection on their progress.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  1. Describe different methods of doing psychological research and evaluate their strengths, weaknesses and appropriateness for different research questions.
  2. Discuss key issues in research design and use this knowledge to make and defend design choices for specific research examples.
  3. Appropriately analyse, interpret and report experimental data, using statistical software as appropriate, both when available resources and time are restricted, and when they are not.
  4. Competently write a report of a psychology experiment in the format described by American Psychological Association (APA) style conventions.

Assessment strategy

The summative assessment for this module has been intentionally designed to fit the modules aims. It will be made up of two coursework portfolios (15% each), two practical reports (20% each), and a written unseen examination (30%).

The portfolios allows opportunities for formative feedback and reflection on performance. The portfolio include tasks which allow students to demonstrate their understanding of research methods and data analysis skills and concepts. These portfolio tasks also provide a basis for and formative and summative feedback directly related to the end of module unseen examination.

In the experimental psychology part of the module, summative and formative feedback will be given on each experimental research report. Additional individual and group oral formative feedback will be available to students within workshop sessions in relation to the activities undertaken in those sessions.

Component Percentage of Marks Learning outcomes
Portfolio 15% 1 and 2
Report 1 15% 1, 2, and 3
Reports 2, and 3 20% each  2, 3, and 4
Unseen written examination 30% 3



American Psychological Association. (2010). Concise rules of APA style (6th ed.). Washington, DC:.
American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC. [CORE]
Banyard, P., & Grayson, A. (2008). Introducing psychological research (3rd ed.). Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Breakwell, G. M., Smith, J. A., & Wright, D. B. (Eds.). (2011). Research methods in psychology (4th ed.). London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Brysbaert, M. (2011). Basic statistics for psychologists. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Haslam, S. A., and McGarty, C. (2014). Research methods and statistics in psychology (2nd ed.). London: Sage Publications Ltd. [CORE]
The British Psychological Society. (2014). Code of human research ethics. Leicester: The British Psychological Society. Retrieved from [CORE]