module specification

PY7015 - Research Methods (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Research Methods
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 200
164 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Psychology Research Exercises
Unseen Examination 30%   Quantitative methods examination (unseen) (2 Hours)
Seen Examination 20%   Qualitative methods examination (seen) (1 Hours)
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Monday Morning

Module summary

This module is introduces students to methods of psychological investigation and to develop their ability to design such investigations, to understand the ethical implications of the methods used, and to assess the data collected.  Each of these aims is associated with general competencies that are highly valued in employment settings (e.g., communication, numeracy, critical thinking). The module also aims to facilitate integration of students’ knowledge and understanding of research methods with their knowledge and understanding in core areas of psychology, e.g. cognitive or developmental psychology) and to provide students with a firm foundation for their Master’s level project.


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

We will also explore the reporting of research studies, including how to structure of a research report; how to write and format each section; and APA style for scientific writing. LO4

The syllabus includes coverage of different ways of both summarising and presenting data quantitative; using data analysis software; and using statistics to draw inferences about populations from research samples.  We will cover analyses for between and within participants research designs with two conditions;  analyses for between and with participants research designs with more than two conditions; analysis of relationships between variables using correlation and regression; the analysis of data in simple contingency tables. LO1,LO3

Finally, the syllabus will include coverage of qualitative methods (e.g., interviews, observation, and examination of secondary data sources) and simple text analysis. We will also discuss the reporting and evaluation of qualitative research. LO1,LO2,LO3,LO4

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.

Learning outcomes

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

1. Critically discuss general concepts and principles associated with the design of, implementation of, and data analysis within, a range of different approaches to research in psychology;
2. 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;
3. Describe, analyse and interpret both quantitative and qualitative data using appropriate methods and tools, for example specialist statistical or qualitative analysis software.
4. Demonstrate an understanding of how to competently write a report of a psychology class practical in the format described by American Psychological Association (APA) style conventions.

Assessment strategy

The module will be assessed by one piece of coursework and two examinations.  The coursework will be a collection of Psychology Research Exercises based around research design, research ethics, and report writing.  This assessment is linked to material covered in the first part of the module.  The Quantitative Methods Examination will assess students’ conceptual understanding of quantitative analysis techniques, as well as their ability to appropriately design, describe and interpret quantitative analysis of data. .  The Qualitative Methods Examination will focus on students’ understanding of methods of data collection, and analysis for qualitative research.


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC.
Dancey, C. & Reidy, J. (2017). Statistics without maths for psychology (7th ed.). Harlow: Pearson Education.
Heath, W. (2018). Psychology research methods: Connecting research to students’ lives.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Breakwell, G. M., Smith, J. A., & Wright, D. B. (Eds.). (2011). Research methods in psychology (4th ed.). London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Field, A. (2013). Discovering statistics using IBM SPSS Statistics. London; Sage.
Flick, U. (2014). An introduction to qualitative research (5th ed.). London: Sage
Haslam, S. A., and McGarty, C. (2014). Research methods and statistics in psychology (2nd ed.). London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Howell, D. C. (2013). Statistical methods for psychology (8th ed.). Cengage Publishing.
Howitt, D. & Cramer, D. (2016). Research methods in psychology (5th ed.). Pearson Higher Education.
Smith, J. A. (2016). Qualitative psychology: A practical guide to research methods (3rd ed.). London: Sage.
Tabachnick, B. and Fidell, L. (2014).  Using multivariate statistics: New international edition. Pearson UK.
Willig, C. (2012). Qualitative interpretation and analysis in psychology. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Willig, C. (2013). Introducing qualitative research in psychology. (3rd ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.