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Research Methods and Conceptual Issues in Psychology

Module titleResearch Methods and Conceptual Issues in Psychology
Module codePSYM222
Academic year2023/4
Module staff
Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks




Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module will provide you with basic skills necessary to understand and conduct research in psychology. You will gain an understanding of the main scientific research methods, both quantitative and qualitative, their advantages and disadvantages, and areas of application. You’ll get first-hand experience of participating in psychological research. You will also acquire skills in writing (scientific) reports and using library and online resources for scientific research. Finally, you will gain an understanding of ethical issues related to conducting research in psychology. This module is the basis for the rest of your Masters degree.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is to introduce you to important issues such as:

  • the methods of scientific psychology and, in particular, an understanding of the strengths and limitations of both quantitative and qualitative approaches
  • scientific reporting of empirical research
  • essay and report writing skills for psychology
  • the evaluation and critique of journal articles
  • practical and professional skills pertaining to the conduct and management of psychological research including ethical issues
  • the use of library and online resources.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Apply basic skills in experimental and survey methodologies within the context of psychology, and related issues of research design
  • 2. Illustrate first-hand experience of how psychological research is conducted
  • 3. Identify weaknesses in specific methodologies and understand the relative merits of quantitative and qualitative approaches
  • 4. Identify the practice of psychology as an ethical science

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 5. Acquire basic and essential factual and conceptual knowledge of the subject, and demonstrate understanding of this knowledge
  • 6. Address well-defined problems systematically, think critically and creatively, and begin to appreciate the complexities of the issues at a basic level
  • 7. Understand and apply essential principles in designing research, evaluate and analyse empirical evidence, and assess the reliability of empirical evidence using defined techniques at a basic level
  • 8. Demonstrate some awareness of ethical issues relating to the subject and its application

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 9. Manage information, collect appropriate information from a range of sources and undertake essential study tasks under guidance
  • 10. Apply methods accurately and carefully to a well-defined problem and begin to appreciate the complexity of the issues
  • 11. Act with limited autonomy, under direction or supervision, and within defined guidelines

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Indicative examples of what may be covered include:

  • Introduction
    • What is psychology?
    • How can we study it?
    • Why do we need a course on research methodology?
  • Research in psychology: objectives and ideals
    • Why do research in psychology?
    • What are our objectives?
    • What are the properties of good psychological research?
  • Writing reports and essays in psychology
  • Managing information; crimes and misdemeanours including plagiarism
  • Library skills
  • Research methods
  • Experimental design
  • Qualitative methods
    • Philosophical choices.
    • Practical options.
    • Common misunderstandings.
  • Research ethics
    • Science and society.
    • Participation in human research.
    • Key principles guiding ethical research with human participants in psychology

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 Teaching22Lectures (11 x 2 hours)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching3Tutorials (3 x 1 hours)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching6Practicals (3 x 2 hours)
Guided Independent Study119Reading and preparation for practical report, web-based activities on ELE


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Tutorials3 x 1 hourAllOral

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
Examination452 hoursAllWritten
Practical report502000 wordsAllWritten
Research participation55 hours2, 4-5,8Oral


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExaminationExaminationAllAugust Ref/Def
Practical reportPractical reportAllAugust Ref/Def
Research participationResearch participation2, 4-5,8August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Three assessments are required for this module. Where you have been referred/deferred in the examination you will have the opportunity to take a second examination in the August re-assessment period. Where you have been referred/deferred in the practical report you will be required to resubmit the report. Where you have been referred/deferred in the research participation you will be individually assessed in the participation element. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 50%; deferred marks are not capped.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Haslam, S.A.& McGarty, C. (2014). Research Methods and Statistics in Psychology. London: Sage.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

(Lecture slides and notes will be available on ELE)

Key words search

Psychology, research methods, qualitative methods, quantitative methods, ethics

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date