module specification

PY7P28 - Dissertation and Professional Development (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module status DELETED (This module is no longer running)
Module title Dissertation and Professional Development
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 60
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 600
245 hours Guided independent study
40 hours Placement / study abroad
315 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Dissertation 100% 50 Research project (10000 words)
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

This module provides the opportunity for students to engage in a significant piece of empirical research within the field of occupational, business, consumer, and organisational psychology (work psychology) and/or undertake supervised professional practice that is relevant to their course of study.  Additionally, the module offers opportunities for professional development through interaction with a wider community of applied work psychologists in a series of professional seminars.

Module aims

The aim is to provide the student with the opportunity to study and a chosen area of work psychology in depth. In addition, the module aims to prepare the student for project management in an organisational context by developing advanced practitioner, consultancy and professional skills. Supervision, therefore, adopts a two-fold approach, dealing with both the academic and professional aspects of the process and its outcomes. The support programme for the dissertation includes sessions on individual aspects of this work, delivered by both staff and guest speakers and aimed at developing professional skills specific to applying psychology to work and consumer setting. The module meets the BPS research requirement for accredited MSc programmes.


The professional seminars will cover topics such as identifying viable research topics in organisations, gaining access to organisations to conduct research, questionnaire design, interviews, professional standards and the chartership process, ethical issues, project management, professional best practice, diversity and equality issues. Projects may be largely quantitative or qualitative, depending on the area and topic investigated, and supervision therefore provides additional guidance in relevant research methods (beyond that covered in the research methods module).

There is a non-assessed presentation allows for feedback and input from both staff and peers, as well as offering a forum for practice of professional skills such as group facilitation and project presentation. The oral presentation provides feedback on the project proposal and progress made by the students. This process also contributes to the development of consultancy skills.  The presentation and group facilitation are given feedback by staff and students.  Students therefore obtain feedback on their dissertation ideas from both staff and peers. The task involves students anticipating potential issues and obstacles (e.g., methodological or ethical) that they may encounter during their dissertation research, and designing exercises to facilitate peer input in finding solutions during the presentation session.

Learning and teaching

The module implements the course learning strategy and as such has a strong community of practice perspective. The module includes one-to-one supervision of the dissertation research, professional development lectures and seminars, personal development sessions, student presentations and both directed and self-directed learning outside formal teaching sessions. Weblearn and discussion boards are used to facilitate interaction between students, and between staff and students. Students are encouraged to present their work at Applied Psychology forums, such as ABP, BPS and EAWOP conferences as a further aspect of student and staff learning, and in line with our community of practice values. In order to benefit from the module students are expected to prepare work in advance for many of the sessions. Thus their time management, commitment to their studies and demonstration of professionalism with staff and colleagues is key to successful completion of this aspect of their course.  As part of this module,  students engage in professional development goal setting and reflective activities including an evaluation of how this module has facilitated their personal and professional development towards acquisition of the competencies within the BPS National Occupational Standards Framework which are generic work psychology skills.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
• plan and execute, using independent judgement, a piece of relevant original research
• demonstrate innovation and originality of thought with respect to basic and applied   research appropriate to the area of study
• select, execute and interpret appropriate statistical methods/tests at an advanced level of capability using  appropriate statistical software at an advanced  level of competency and/or execute and interpret appropriate qualitative methods at an advanced level of capability
• demonstrate an ability for managing consultancy and research processes under supervision
• display competence in the consultancy cycle and apply some key consultancy skills in occupational/business/consumer/organisational psychology such as diagnosis, group facilitation or related areas
• critically interpret and place their own research within the wider context of applied psychology research and practice
• write a detailed project report in a rigorous scientific-practitioner manner with correct use of APA/BPS style and defend the dissertation
• demonstrate knowledge and a critical understanding of the role of research in the academic and professional development of the field, the philosophy of research and the function of learned societies and professional bodies
• evaluate data and make recommendations from critical analysis as to client/organisation courses of action to solve problems, and/or form policy and understand the methodological, practical and ethical issues involved in applying social research methods in organisational and business settings
• design, develop and carry out research within given resource and time constraints
• demonstrate knowledge and understanding of psychological  professional standards and their application to their own professional development.

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy focuses on developing professional and applied skills as well as a strong academic foundation. Critical thinking and problem solving skills also play an important element.

There is one assessed component

Dissertation – 100%

The dissertation is a substantial piece of empirical research relevant to the student’s area of study and professional development.  This 10 000 word project report is to be structured like empirical papers published in journals such as Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, and the Journal of Consumer Psychology.  The research is normally conducted in a collaborating organisation in the form of a consultancy project.


Brewerton, P.M., and Millward, L.J. (2001). Organizational Research Methods: A practical Guide for Students and Researchers. London: Sage.
Bryman, A., and Bell, E. (2011). Business Research Methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
DeMars, C. (2010). Item Response Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Evans, J. (2007). Your psychology project: the essential guide. London: Sage.
Holz, H. (2004). How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant, 4th Edition. Chichester: Wiley.
McKenna, E. F., Tsivrikos, D., and Pheiffer, G. (2014). Business Psychology and Organizational Behaviour. 6th ed. Hove: Psychology Press.
Pallant, J. (2012). SPSS Survival Manual: A step by step guide to data analysis using SPSS (5th edition). Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Polonsky, M., and Waller, D. (2010). Designing and Managing a Research Project: A Business Student's Guide (2nd edition). London: Sage.
Robson, C. (2011). Real World Research: A Resource for Social Scientists and Practitioner-researchers. Oxford: Blackwell.
Saldana, J., Leavy, P., and Beretvas, N. (2011). Fundamentals of Qualitative Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Symon,G & Cassell,  C (2012). Qualitative Organizational Research: Core Methods and Current Challenge. London: Sage

Some relevant Journals:
Journal of Applied Psychology
Journal of Business and Psychology
Journal of Consumer Psychology
Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Journal of Organizational Behaviour
Organizational Research Methods
Personnel Psychology