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Research Project

Module titleResearch Project
Module codePSYM220
Academic year2023/4
Module staff
Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks




Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module is the culmination of the practical training and learning on the Masters degree and allows you to demonstrate your competencies, incorporating many of the research skills and data analysis techniques you will have developed. You will negotiate your project topic through a structured process and be closely supervised throughout the duration of your research project by an academic member of staff whose personal research focus aligns with your topic.

You may be allocated to a supervisor in either the Department of Psychology or the School of Education. All supervisors have expertise in some area of psychology.
You will usually work with a project partner, another student engaged in the same piece of research, though groups of up to four are possible, depending on the nature of the project. Your supervisor will carefully manage this aspect, in order to ensure that each student recognises their individual responsibilities. The skills you learn in working as a member of a team add to the transferable skills valued by employers which you will develop and provide invaluable experience.

Whether you are working in a group or not, you will write the final report and the lay summary on your own, and will prepare an individual research poster to be submitted with your Final Report.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aims of the module are to enable you to develop your knowledge and understanding of the problems and complexities of conducting empirical research by requiring you to complete the full process of designing and running an empirical study extended over three terms. You will develop to an advanced level your skills in searching and reviewing large bodies of literature on the selected topic, designing and running a piece of empirical research, analysing the relevant data and in writing scientific reports.

In addition, this module provides you with opportunities to work alongside an experienced academic researcher, sometimes in a highly-specialised area. The nature of the supervision will vary over the course of the project, depending on the requirements at any given time; closely-supervised in the initial stages and data analysis phases, but more independent during the data-collection and writing-up phases.

In this module you will work towards developing the following academic and professional skills:

  • problem solving (linking theory to practice, developing your own ideas with confidence, responding creatively to resolving problems, handling large amounts of diverse data critically, identifying, selecting, and using appropriate sources of information)
  • collaboration (respecting the views and values of others, taking initiative, supporting others in their learning, maintaining group cohesiveness and productivity)
  • structure (identifying key demands of the task, making decisions about task management, developing strategies to ensure individual and group progress, developing and implementing plans of action)
  • time (managing time effectively as an individual and group member to meet short-term and long-term deadlines, juggling multiple priorities and competing deadlines effectively, setting and maintaining work priorities)
  • audience (presenting information and ideas effectively in multiple formats, demonstrating confidence in communicating through technology, taking responsibility for acting in a professional and ethical manner, using a variety of means for engaging an audience, adjusting tone and style to suit the audience), and
  • self and peer review (taking responsibility for your own learning and progress, learning from and using feedback from multiple sources, responding actively to feedback, dealing with and learning from criticism).


Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Design and conduct an empirical study, analyse and interpret the findings and produce a scientific report
  • 2. Produce an extended scientific report in the specific domain of your project and use a range of information technologies for information finding, research, communication and data processing at an advanced level
  • 3. Prepare and deliver a scientific poster effectively to a specialist and non-specialist audience

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Acquire detailed, systematic and comprehensive knowledge within the discipline, with in-depth specialisation at the forefront of the discipline in certain areas, and demonstrate advanced critical understanding of this knowledge and of the limits and provisional nature of this knowledge
  • 5. Review and critically evaluate published work at an advanced level and identify the strengths and weaknesses of this work, and at an advanced level structure this literature to present logical, coherent and sustained arguments to support conclusions at an advanced level
  • 6. Understand and apply essential principles in designing novel research, and critically evaluate and analyse empirical evidence, and assess the reliability of empirical evidence using a range of defined techniques at an advanced level
  • 7. Communicate ideas, principles and theories effectively, fluently, and professionally by written, graphic and oral means
  • 8. Illustrate the wider ethical issues relating to the subject and its application at an advanced level

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. Interact effectively and supportively within a learning group
  • 10. Select and manage information, and to undertake competently study tasks with minimum guidance
  • 11. Engage effectively in debate in a professional manner and produce detailed and coherent written work; identify complex problems and apply appropriate knowledge and methods for their solution with confidence and flexibility
  • 12. Manage time effectively to meet deadlines

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The module follows an apprenticeship model of research training, involving regular meetings with the supervisor throughout the module. You gain ethical clearance, conduct the research project, collect and analyse relevant data and report the findings in a scientific report. The exact form of the research apprenticeship will depend on the research field and the research supervisor. However, some general information is provided below.

Once the research topic is established, you investigate the literature relevant to the topic and submit a formatively assessed research proposal by the proposal deadline in Term 2. After discussion of the project design with your supervisor, you will then make a submission to the Psychology Research Ethics Committee. Data collection cannot begin until the project has received ethical clearance, so experimental work is likely to only begin in the second half of Term 2.

You may submit an early draft of the final report (excluding the Introduction and Discussion section) to your supervisor and will receive written feedback on the method and results section. The submission deadline for the early draft should be negotiated with the supervisor.

You will also prepare and submit an individual scientific poster and a lay summary, communicating the central features of your research in a concise manner.

Data collection for the project should be completed by mid-July. This milestone ensures sufficient time to analyse and write up the results of the research for submission in late August.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching20Supervision meetings
Scheduled Learning and Teaching10Project management and writing workshops
Guided Independent Study12Ethics application
Guided Independent Study200Background research, reading and writing proposal
Guided Independent Study60Preparation of research materials/protocols
Guided Independent Study75Data collection
Guided Independent Study175Analysing data and writing final report
Guided Independent Study20Preparation of individual poster
Guided Independent Study18Preparation of lay summary
Guided Independent Study10Preparation of project record meeting sheet


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Project proposal1500 words1-2, 4-12Oral and/or written feedback from supervisor
Ethics application400+ words, depending on nature of research project8Written feedback from Psychology Research Ethics Committee
Early draft of final report (excluding Introduction and Discussion section)3000-5000 words, depending on nature of research project1-2, 4-12Written feedback from supervisor on method and results section
Project meeting record sheet1000+ words, depending on the nature of the project4-12Oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Research project final report756000 words for quantitative projects; 7000 words for qualitative projects1-2, 4-12Written, individual feedback
Research project individual poster15500-1500 wordsAllWritten, individual feedback
Lay summary101000 words1-2, 4-8, 10-12Written, individual feedback


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Research project final reportResearch project final report1-2, 4-12In the next academic year
Research project individual posterResearch project individual posterAllIn the next academic year
Lay summaryLay summary1-2, 4-8, 10-12In the next academic year

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The module mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to complete a further dissertation, by a date to be recommended by the examiners, normally not more than one year after the original submission date. The module mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the mark and will be capped at 50%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative basic reading list:

  • Harris. P. (2002) Designing and reporting experiments in psychology (2nd edition). Open University Press.
  • Sternberg, R.J. (1993) The Psychologists' Companion: A guide to scientific writing for students and researchers (3rd edition). Chapters 1, 3 (especially), 4, 5. Cambridge University Press.

Additional reading will be specific to the topic selected for the Research Project.

Module has an active ELE page

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

  • Statistics and Computing Helpdesk in WSL/220 – provides advice and support with data analysis

Key words search

Research project, major project, empirical research

Credit value60
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date