PC4009 - Introduction to Research in Psychology (2023/24)
|Module approved to run in 2023/24
|Introduction to Research in Psychology
|Credit rating for module
|School of Social Sciences and Professions
|Total study hours
|Running in 2023/24(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
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 you to the practice of conducting and reporting research in psychology, and to develop your skills in gathering, analysing and evaluating information. You will learn about the link between psychological research questions and psychological investigation methods, and will be introduced to simple data description and analysis techniques. You will explore a range of research methods employed in psychological investigation; and will learn to use computer applications that contribute to the conduct and reporting of psychological research. You will learn about the British Psychological Society’s Code of Human Research Ethics, and what this means for the way in which we design and conduct research studies in psychology. You will also learn about research reporting conventions, and how to share your research with others using professional publication guidelines. Overall, this module aims to encourage you, and give you opportunities, to develop practical, intellectual and interpersonal skills that are of use in many employment settings, and which also provide you with a toolkit of intellectual and practical academic skills which will assist your progression to modules at levels 5 & 6.
This module gives you the opportunity to learn about, and develop your skills in, psychology research. The syllabus includes an introduction to the nature and purposes of research in psychology [Learning Outcome 1], and different approaches to research design [Learning Outcome 2], including the match between research design and research questions [Learning Outcome 6]. We will explore different methods for gathering data in psychology [Learning Outcome 3]; core research design concepts and issues [Learning Outcome 2]; and research ethics for psychologists [Learning Outcome 4].
The syllabus includes coverage of different ways of both summarising and analysing data; using data analysis software to create arithmetic and graphical summaries; and using statistics to draw inferences about populations from research samples [Learning Outcome 5].
The practical research elements of the syllabus will invite you to be active participants in psychology research, and will model and reinforce ethical and professional research practices. You will learn about and put into practice research reporting guidelines, and specifically will learn about 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 [Learning Outcomes 4 and 5].
Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity
The module is delivered through a variety of teaching and learning methods. Lectures will provide you with key information about core research methods, report writing, and data management (e.g., key concepts, data presentation formats) and will provide you with a framework for your further reading and independent study. In-class discussions and activities will give you the opportunity to check your understanding of concepts and processes covered in the lectures, and to apply these to research questions of interest or relevance to you. Workshops will give you the opportunity to develop your digital literacy across a range of tools, and to learn how to use specialist statistical software for summarising and analysing data. Practical classes will give you experience in participating in research in psychology, as well as providing you with research examples that you can use when learning to write research reports. Your active engagement in these elements is essential to success on this module. Additional resources will be suggested or provided as appropriate (e.g., YouTube videos, formative quizzes and self-study questions) to help to scaffold and develop your independent learning of the module material.
You will have opportunities throughout the module for engagement with peers and the teaching team, including assessment preparation sessions and post-assessment feedback for contributory assessments (examination, practical report). In addition, you will have the opportunity to receive peer and teaching team feedback on learning activities such as online discussions, formative quizzes and in-class or workshop activities. Finally, external learning resources will provide an additional opportunity for you to reinforce and extend your learning, and to reflect on your progress.
On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:
1. Outline why an understanding of research methods is useful within your degree; the process of conducting research; and the nature of scientific enquiry.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of core approaches, concepts and issues in research design.
3. Identify different methods of gathering, describing and analysing data, and demonstrate understanding of each method’s strengths, and weaknesses and biases.
4. Demonstrate an awareness of the BPS Code of Human Research Ethics, and how this is implemented in the design and conduct of psychological research.
5. Appropriately analyse, interpret and report research data, in the format described by American Psychological Association (APA) style conventions, using statistical software and other digital resources as appropriate.
6. Apply your understanding of research design issues and biases, research methods and research ethics to a research question of your own choosing.
The summative assessment for this module comprises an open-book multiple-choice examination (40%), a practical report (30%), and a seen examination (30%).
The open-book multiple-choice examination will allow you to evidence your knowledge and understanding of the nature and process of scientific research, including ethics and research reporting conventions; core research approaches, concepts and issues; and data management and presentation topics which are taught in the Autumn Semester. Thus, the open-book multiple-choice examination assesses Learning Outcome 1 and those aspects of Learning Outcomes 2 and 3 covered in the Autumn Semester, and the awareness aspect of Learning Outcome 4.
The practical report is intended to allow you to practice sharing the reasons for conducting a piece of research; the way in which the research was conducted; and the findings and implications of the research using the prescribed APA structure and format for a research report that is taught in the module. In completing this report, you will need to reflect upon and write about how the British Psychological Society’s Code of Human Research Ethics was implemented, and you will need to summarise and analyse your research data using appropriate software. The practical report therefore assesses Learning Outcome 5 and the implementation aspect of Learning Outcome 4. This assessment includes an opportunity for personalisation of your learning – you will have a minimum of two different research examples upon which you can base your report, and you may choose which you would like to write about. The research examples are also designed to connect to the topics that you might study in your other modules, thus providing connections between a study of research methods and your wider degree studies, and illustrating and reinforcing your understanding of Learning Outcome 1.
The open-book Spring Semester examination comprises two sections. The first section (worth one-third of the examination marks) comprises multiple-choice questions designed assess those aspects of Learning Outcomes 2 and 3 covered in the Spring Semester. The second section (worth two-thirds of the examination marks) invites you to apply your knowledge of research ethics, concepts, issues, approaches, methods and data reporting to complete a research proposal for a research question that is of interest to you. Thus, this section of the examination assesses Learning Outcome 6, and is designed to allow you to reflect on your learning across the module, and to personalise this and apply it to your own area of interest. The proposal will take the form of a structured template that includes different headings and prompt questions that you will answer to construct your proposal. This structured template will be introduced early in the Spring Semester and will be used as a tool for reflection and applying learning within each of the lecture-based classes in the Semester. Thus, you will have multiple formative opportunities to think about and clarify each of the elements of this structured template, and to consider how they might reflect both your own and your peers’ research ideas, before the summative examination.