module specification

PC4009 - Introduction to Research in Psychology (2019/20)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2019/20
Module title Introduction to Research in Psychology
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 300
192 hours Guided independent study
108 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Unseen Examination 40%   EXU MCQ Examination
Coursework 20%   Research Report
Unseen Examination 40%   EXU Semester 2 Examination
Running in 2019/20
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year (Spring and Summer) North Tuesday Morning
Year North Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

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 learn about, and develop their skills in, psychology research.

The syllabus includes an introduction to the nature and purposes of research in psychology; and different approaches to research design, including the match between research design and research questions.  We will explore different methods for gathering data in psychology; core research design concepts and issues; and research ethics for psychologists. LO1,LO2,LO3,LO4

The syllabus includes coverage of different ways of both summarising and presenting data; using data analysis software; and using statistics to draw inferences about populations from research samples. LO4,LO5

The practical research elements of the syllabus will involve students in active participation in a range of psychology research, and will address the real world conduct and reporting of simple research studies, including an introduction to the structure and purpose of a research report; how to write and format each section of a research report; and APA style for scientific writing. LO3,LO4,LO5,LO6

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

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 or their understanding of these concepts and processes through a range of discussions and practical exercises.  SPSS workshops enable students to develop competency in the use of this software.  Practical classes will facilitate 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, 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 (summative assessment tasks, 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. Outline the importance of an understanding of research methods, the process of conducting research, and the nature of scientific enquiry.
2. Describe different methods of doing psychological research and discuss their strengths, weaknesses and appropriateness for different research questions.
3. Demonstrate an awareness of the BPS Code of Human Research Ethics (2014) and how this is implemented in the design and conduct of psychological research.
4. Demonstrate an understanding of key concepts and issues in research design.
5. Appropriately analyse, interpret and report research data, using statistical software as appropriate, both when available resources and time are restricted, and when they are not.
6. Competently write a report of a psychology class practical 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 a multiple choice examination (40%), one practical report (20%), and a written unseen examination (40%).

The multiple choice examination allows opportunities for formative feedback and reflection on performance. The multiple choice examination allows students to demonstrate their understanding of research design, research methods, research ethics, basics of report writing and data analysis. This multiple choice examination also provides a basis for formative and summative feedback designed to support students in directing their learning, and designed to support success in the later components of assessment.

In the practical research part of the module, summative and formative feedback will be given on the written 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.



American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC.
Heath, W. (2018). Psychology research methods: Connecting research to students’ lives.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
The British Psychological Society. (2014). Code of human research ethics. Leicester: The British Psychological Society. Retrieved from

Banyard, P., & Grayson, A. (2008). Introducing psychological research (3rd ed.). Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Bourne, V. (2017). Starting out in methods and statistics for psychology: A hands-on guide to doing research. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Brace, N., Kemp, R., and Snelgar, R. (2016).  SPSS for psychologists (and everybody else) (6th ed.).  Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Breakwell, G. M., Smith, J. A., & Wright, D. B. (Eds.). (2012). Research methods in psychology (4th ed.). London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Brysbaert, M. (2011). Basic statistics for psychologists. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Dancey, C. & Reidy, J. (2017). Statistics without maths for psychology (7th ed.). Harlow: Pearson Education.
Haslam, S. A., and McGarty, C. (2014). Research methods and statistics in psychology (2nd ed.). London: Sage Publications Ltd.
McBride, D. M. (2015). The process of research in psychology. London: Sage.