module specification

PY8PB6 - Advanced Psychological Research (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Advanced Psychological Research
Module level Doctoral (08)
Credit rating for module 160
School School of Social Sciences and Professions
Total study hours 1600
1504 hours Guided independent study
96 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Submission of doctoral portfolio comprising of a 25,000 words original empirical research project and a 5,000-6,000 art
Attendance Requirement 0%   Attendance
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Thursday Morning
Year North Wednesday Afternoon
Year North Wednesday Morning
Year North Thursday Afternoon

Module summary

The module aims to support students’ advanced development as applied psychology researchers who are able to make an original contribution to professional practice through systematic enquiry. Specifically, it enables students to design, execute and write up a substantial piece of empirical research conducted at doctoral level in an area of relevance to counselling psychology. This and the Advanced Psychological Theory and Practice module constitute a framework via which students develop a standard of proficiency across academic, clinical and practical competency areas that will enable them to meet HPC and BPS standards for qualification as a counselling psychologist.

Prior learning requirements

Pass in all Year 1 modules from Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology, plus pass in the research proposal of Research Project and Critical Skills PY7PB4


• Managing the research process
• Advanced research skills, reflexivity and analysis
• Writing up and structuring your thesis
• Dissemination, publication and interaction with media
• Viva preparation LO1,LO2,LO3,LO4,LO5,LO6,LO7

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

The module’s learning and teaching strategy utilises a range of methods that build on the research competencies developed in Year 1 of the programme (through the Advanced Research Design and Analysis for Psychology and Research Project and Critical Skills modules) to enable students to produce an piece of empirical research at doctoral level. Lecture presentation, group discussion and supervision support students in the initial stages of getting their research project off the ground. A series of workshops take place over the course of the module to ensure that students continue to develop the skills needed to successfully complete the various stages of the research process, maintain their momentum, facilitate timely completion and have a context for receiving support and feedback from their peers and tutors. Supervision provides an individualised context in which students continue to hone the skills needed to produce research of doctoral standard, as well as a space for them to review and evaluate their work. Self-directed and independent study constitutes a key feature of the module’s learning and teaching strategy, in keeping with the characteristics of doctoral research. Students are supported in identifying personal learning needs areas (e.g. methodological or topical) and activities that will support their research work, including making use of the University’s wider facilities for postgraduate research students. The viva provides an opportunity for students to reflect on their learning and development as a researcher. Enrolling for this module constitutes the ‘top up’ doctorate programme of study for applicants who are already qualified counselling psychologists.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will:

1. Demonstrate an ability to autonomously manage and progress through the various stages of the doctoral research process

2. Have developed a set of transferable skills that enable them to make an original and valuable contribution to practice and service development through research

3. Demonstrate the reflexive, critical, theoretical, clinical, methodological and ethical knowledge and competencies needed to successfully conduct advanced academic enquiry in counselling psychology

4. Demonstrate an ability to independently conceptualise, design, implement and write up an empirical project for the generation of new knowledge that is at the forefront of the discipline, and to adjust the project design in the light of unforeseen problems as appropriate

5. Demonstrate an ability to create and interpret new knowledge, through original research of a quality to satisfy external peer review, extend the forefront of the discipline and merit publication

6. Demonstrate a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge at the forefront of an area of professional practice of relevance to counselling psychology

7. Have developed knowledge and skills that support evidenced based professional practice and the dissemination, communication and defence of their research and ideas

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy comprises a number of elements which together provide a framework for assessing students’ achievement of the module’s learning outcomes.

i) Project approval
Early in the first year of the module students’ project proposals go through a process of formal approval and ethics review. Students cannot proceed until approval has been granted. Students undertaking research in an NHS or other organisational setting are likely to be required to undergo a separate review process before being able to proceed.  Project approval is intended to ensure that the research proposal is adequately developed and ready to enable the student to commence recruitment and data collection. (Learning outcome 1)

ii) Progress monitoring
Over the course of the module students submit progress reports on their work, normally at least once per year. This also includes an evaluation by the supervisor. Students are required to attach evidence of their research work. This is reviewed by the University’s Research Student Progress Group (RSPG) to assess whether the amount of progress made and standard of the work produced are satisfactory.  If a student’s progress or work is considered unsatisfactory they normally will be set conditions to meet and their progress formally reviewed again at a subsequent point. If at this point their progress or work is still evaluated as unsatisfactory their registration would normally be discontinued and they would not be able to continue further on the programme. Progress monitoring provides a means by which students can receive formative feedback on their work to guide their progression towards achievement of the module’s learning outcomes. (Learning outcome 1)

iii) Empirical project and viva voce examination
Towards the end of the second year students submit their empirical research project for formal assessment. Moreover, the students will have developed an article based on their empirical research. This article should be between 6,000-8,000 words and it should be formatted as per the editors’ guidelines of the particular journal that the students will chose to be submitting their article to. The article will be included alongside the project.  The empirical project only, is read by both an internal and external examiner who then meet with the student for a viva voce examination. The article will not be examined as part of the viva examination; however, it must be approved by the supervisor as eligible for submission for publication before being submitted alongside the thesis.  The viva provides a means by which the examiners can discuss the students’ work with them, gain a rounded picture of their intellectual capacities, independent command of the topic area and methodology, their transferable skills and knowledge as a researcher, the merits of the thesis as an original and valuable piece of professional research, and offer suggestions or requirements for improving the thesis.. As such, it provides the key means by which the module’s learning outcomes are assessed. (Learning outcomes 1-7)

iv) Attendance
Students are expected to attend all timetabled sessions for the module.  Although there may be occasions when circumstances prevent trainees from attending (e.g., illness), a minimum of 80% attendance is required overall to demonstrate adequate engagement with the module.




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Quality Assurance Agency Framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Descriptors for a higher education qualification at level 8: Doctoral degrees.

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