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Research Methods in Psychology

Course overview

(MSc) Master of Science
Research Methods in Psychology
University of Essex
University of Essex
Colchester Campus
MSC C80612

A high 2.2 degree in Psychology, Cognitive Science or a related subject .

If you hold a degree in Psychology it would be preferable, though not essential, if this was British Psychological Society accredited.

Applications from students with a 2:2 or equivalent will be considered dependent on any relevant professional or voluntary experience, previous modules studied and/or personal statement.

IELTS 7.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

External Examiners

Prof Bettina Forster

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.

eNROL, the module enrolment system, is now open until Monday 21 October 2019 8:59AM, for students wishing to make changes to their module options.


Core You must take this module You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study
Compulsory You must take this module There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study
Optional You can choose which module to study

Year 1 - 2019/20

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 PS934-7-FY Research Project (MSc) Core 60 Compulsory Compulsory
02 PS946-7-AU Fundamental Statistics for Research Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory
03 PS912-7-AU Research Management Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory
04 PS944-7-FY Research Experience Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory
05 SC520-7-SP Interviewing and Qualitative Data Analysis Compulsory 20 Compulsory Compulsory
06 Option from list Optional 15 Optional Optional
07 Option(s) from list Optional 30 Optional Optional
08 PS947-7-SP Advanced Statistics for Research Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

To provide advanced training in research methods as a suitable foundation for a PhD research degree.

To meet the criteria of postgraduate research training specified by the Economic and Social Research Council.

To develop a critical awareness of psychological science in relation to its philosophical context, and in relation to its social, computational and biological foundations, and in relation to research in the natural and social sciences.

To provide an opportunity for advanced study in cognitive psychology that will extend theoretical knowledge in selected areas of specialisation.

To provide knowledge and skills (critical evaluation and argument, quantitative and qualitative empirical methods, communication and presentation) that will prepare students for academic careers as well as a wide range of alternative careers, and will be widely sought by employers.

Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

A: Knowledge and understanding

A1 Acquire advanced knowledge and understanding of a broad range of quantitative and qualitative empirical methods to address psychological issues
A2 Acquire advanced knowledge and understanding of fundamental theoretical issues in the natural, social and cognitive sciences, and the philosophy of mind
A3 Acquire advanced knowledge and understanding of current theoretical developments and empirical evidence within selected fields of cognitive psychology
A4 Acquire advanced knowledge and understanding of ethical, health and safety, and legal issues pertaining to research
A5 Graduates will demonstrate an advanced knowledge and understanding of psychological theory within the core domains of cognitive neuroscience
A6 Graduates will demonstrate an advanced knowledge and understanding of research methods, instrumentation and experimental design appropriate for cognitive neuroscience
A7 Graduates will demonstrate an advanced knowledge and understanding of statistics appropriate for cognitive neuroscience
Learning Methods: A1 is taught through lectures, seminars and workshops, including on-line data analysis in computer laboratories.

A2-A7 are taught through lectures, seminars and workshops.

A2 - A3 are taught through high level internal and external research seminars, and follow-up group discussions.

A3-A4 are taught by individual supervision on the research project leading to the dissertation.
Assessment Methods: A1 Practical exercises and a 2-hr examination in univariate statistics.

A2-A3 are assessed by coursework essays (usually 2 x 2500-word essays per module).
A4 is assessed through a 5000-word written research proposal.

A1, A3, A4 are assessed through the 10,000-word dissertation.

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B1 Graduates will be able to select and apply as appropriate a range of quantitative and qualitative empirical methods to answer psychological questions
B2 Graduates will be able to understand and apply ethical principles pertaining to psychological research
B3 Graduates will be able to plan and design an empirical investigation
B4 Graduates will be able to analyse and interpret empirical data, including those of the student's own investigation
B5 Graduates will be able to critically evaluate a range of contemporary issues in psychology
B6 Graduates will be able to assemble and integrate evidence from a variety of sources
B7 Graduates will be able to report, interpret and discuss original research findings
B8 Graduates will show evidence of enhanced ability to evaluate the theoretical issues and experimental techniques of cognitive neuroscience
Learning Methods: Lectures, seminars and practical workshops are used to teach research methods, theoretical ideas in psychology, and the ability to assemble evidence and report research findings (B1-B7).

B5 is also taught by attendance at, and subsequent seminar discussion of, high-level research seminars.

An original research project is carried out under supervision (B1-B7).

Interactive seminars are used for which the students create their own presentations.

Feedback is provided by students and staff (B7).
Assessment Methods: Theoretical knowledge, critical evaluation and the integration of evidence are assessed through coursework essays and the dissertation (B4-B6).

Quantitative and qualitative research design and analysis are assessed by practical exercises in qualitative and quantitative research methods and the dissertation (B1, B3, B4).

Knowledge of ethical issues, and the costs of research are assessed by the research proposal (B2).

Reporting research findings is assessed by the dissertation and by a poster presentation (B7).

C: Practical skills

C1 Graduates will be able to deploy statistical skills, providing the ability to display and analyse empirical data, using appropriate software
C2 Graduates will be able to deploy research skills, including use of scientific databases, referencing packages, and modelling packages
C3 Graduates will be able to deploy writing skills, including use of academic conventions for publication, and presentation of a research proposal
C4 Graduates will be able to deploy preliminary investigative procedures, enabling them to conduct pilot studies, and, where necessary, construct and validate new instruments.
C5 Graduates will be able to deploy data collection skills, including the recruitment, instruction and debriefing of participants
C6 Graduates will be able to use a range of psychological tools related to cognitive neuropsychology, such as specialist software, laboratory equipment and psychological assessment tests.
Learning Methods: Statistical skills are taught through lectures and practical classes, and also through the independent research project (C1).

Lectures, seminars, practical classes and computer workshops are used to teach all other skills (C2-C6).

Specific research skills are taught as part of the research project that is completed under individual supervision (C1-C6).
Assessment Methods: Production of the dissertation assesses proficiency in all these skills (C1-C5).

Statistical skills are assessed by practical exercises and by a 2-hr statistical examination (C1).

The research proposal addresses skills involved in planning and reporting research (C2 - C5).

Research and writing skills are assessed through the coursework essays (C2, C3).

D: Key skills

D1 Communicate information, ideas and arguments effectively using a range of media, including written and poster communications
D2 (i) Use IT resources for research and presentation, including databases, library catalogues, internet resources, wordprocessing and presentation packages. (ii) Use appropriate software to analyse quantitative and qualitative data
D3 Describe and analyse univariate and multivariate quantitative data using appropriate methods
D4 Apply theoretical knowledge, research design and practical techniques to investigate and solve empirical problems
D5 Not applicable.
D6 (i) Produce work that is properly presented against strict deadlines. (ii) Reflect on their own performance and make constructive use of feedback. (iii) Work independently, and plan work effectively
Learning Methods: Oral and visual presentation skills are developed through seminars and practical exercises that address and monitor these skills directly (D1).

Generic IT skills and statistical packages are taught in computer workshops (D2, D3).

Numeracy is taught and encouraged by statistics and research methods lectures and workshops(D3).

Problem solving is taught through individual supervision on the research project (D4).
Assessment Methods: These skills are assessed by coursework essays (D1, D2(i), D6), practical exercises (D2(ii)), the dissertation (D1, D2, D3, D4, D6) and the research proposal (D1, D4, D6).

All assessed work is carried out with strict submission deadlines, and returned promptly with feedback (D6).

Numeracy is also assessed through practical exercises in quantitative data analysis, and a statistical examination (D3).

Communication skills are also assessed through the poster presentation (D1).


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