Research Methods in Psychology 1

Module summary

Module code: PSYC0038
Level: 4
Credits: 30
School: Education, Health and Human Sci
Department: Human Sciences
Module Coordinator(s): Malachi Willis



To introduce students to the principles and to the historical and conceptual aspects of scientific enquiry. To provide an introduction to methods of collection, analysis, and interpretation of psychological data, both qualitative and quantitative. To provide teaching and guidance on the use of computers and statistical software as applicable (currently IBM SPSS for Windows) for data analysis, management and manipulation.

Learning outcomes

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

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the conceptual and historical nature of the scientific method, and its benefits and limitations in psychological research.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of the process and strategies of research designs and the epistemologies underlying these designs.
3. Show familiarity with and understanding of the fundamental ways in which psychological data can be collected in order to obtain valid scientific conclusions.
4. Understand and appreciate the ethical issues involved in research on human participants and animals.
5. Choose and apply appropriate introductory-level descriptive and inferential statistical methods to psychological data, and properly interpret the results of such analyses.

Indicative content

• Distinctions between quantitative and qualitative approaches to research
• Design strategies, problem definition and hypothesis formation. Independent and dependent variables. Extraneous, random and confounding variables. Experimental and control groups. Samples, populations and representativeness.
• Theories of sampling, notions of validity and reliability. Generalisability and replicability of experiments. Measurement and measurement errors. Protecting against bias, placebos, single-blind and double-blind experiments.
• Experimental, Quasi-experimental and Naturalistic designs - their merits and limitations. Random, matched and within-subjects designs.
• The place of ethics in psychological research, including regulations surrounding vulnerable groups, deception, and working with children. BPS guidelines.
• Descriptive statistics, measures of central tendency and dispersion, graphical methods, probability. Binomial distribution, Normal distribution.
• Inferential statistics, Introduction to hypothesis testing (t- test, F- test, Chi-squared test) confidence intervals, parametric and non-parametric methods (e.g. Mann-Whitney U, Sign test, Wilcoxon Matched Pairs), correlations and linear regression. Type 1 and Type 2 errors.
• Methods of qualitative data collection and analysis, and evaluative criteria for assessing qualitative research.

Teaching and learning activity

The learning and teaching activities will consist of lectures and seminars/laboratory classes. The seminars will include group activities and some peer-to-peer feedback, for example:
• When considering and practicing using key terms in research design, the students will design a fictitious research project in groups, and present their group’s design, with feedback/questions from the rest of the class;
• When evaluating research, including the studies conducted as part of the laboratory reports, students will discuss in small groups their evaluation points before sharing with the class.


Take-home Test: 50% weighting, 40% pass mark. Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Word Length: 2000 words. Outline Details: Set of short questions assessing Term 1 material. Students are provided with given questions at a fixed date (typically one week) before the submission date.

Formative Assessment: In-class quizzes.

Lab Report: 25% weighting, 40% pass mark. Learning Outcomes: 2, 3, 4, 5. Word Length: 1500 words. Outline Details: Complete report of a quantitative research study.

Online Exam: 25% weighting, 40% pass mark. Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Outline Details: 90-minute online exam assessing Term 2 content.

Formative Assessment: In-class quizzes. Mock exam.