module specification

PC4106 - Introduction to Psychological Research Methods (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Introduction to Psychological Research Methods
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 10
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 100
70 hours Guided independent study
30 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Practical report 1
Coursework 50%   Practical report 2
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester LMET Distance Learning - Not applicable

Module summary

This module introduces students to basic methods of psychological investigation and develops their competence in the use of the SPSS statistical package.

Module aims

The module aims to provide an introduction to the methods of psychological investigation, specifically:
• To develop students’ understanding of the link between psychological research questions and psychological investigation methods;
• To introduce students to some simple research designs and appropriate methods for assessing the data collected
• To develop students’ ability to write research reports in the format adopted by psychological journals.


Topics will include

• Basic issues in the design of psychological investigations
• Approaches to gathering data in psychology: experiments, quasi-experiments, observation, survey, interview, case-study, etc.
• The logic of experimental method; basic issues in the design of experiments
• Ethical issues in psychological investigations
• The structure and purpose of reports of psychological investigations
• Arithmetic summaries of data: summary tables, frequency tables, summary charts, frequency graphs
• Elementary probability and introduction to statistical hypothesis testing
• Statistical hypothesis tests for research designs involving (a) two independent groups of participants and (b) one group providing repeated measures in each of two conditions.

Learning and teaching

Lecturer-provided materials will be placed online. These will include lecture slides with accompanying audio, self-test materials, and – where available – online readings. 
Students will engage as participants in two simple experiments which will be made available on-line.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

1. explain the link between the theoretical and conceptual context of an investigation and describe the methodological issues that it raises;
2. write a report of an investigation in the format employed in psychological journals;
3. use and comment upon a number of exploratory data analysis techniques with a simple data set;
4. use and comment upon statistical methods to carry out simple hypothesis tests on experimental data;
5. conduct some basic procedures in the SPSS statistical package in order to achieve outcomes 3 and 4.

Assessment strategy

The learning outcomes will be assessed by two reports, one for each of two research studies in which the students participate (for which additional data will be provided).  Reports will conform to American Psychological Association structure and style.


Martin, G.N., Carlson, M.R., & Buskist, W. (2011). Psychology (fourth edition). London: Pearson. [This book is available online via the library’s electronic catalogue]

Davey, G. (Ed.) (2008). Complete Psychology (second edition). Oxford: Hodder Education.