Research Methods (Direct Entrants)


The module is designed as an introduction to research methods skills for students entering the BSc Psychology Programme at Level 8. It introduces students to the core principles and practical skills of psychological research. The curriculum includes an introduction to the scientific process, the benefits and disadvantages of key research designs, and practical application of statistical analysis and ethical considerations. Practical activities facilitate understanding of the link between psychological knowledge and empirical research.


Psychology is a science and psychologists employ the scientific method when acquiring new knowledge about their discipline. The aim of the module is to provide opportunities for students to develop a basic understanding of some of the scientific principles underpinning psychological research and the skills necessary to work and think like a psychologist. Students will engage in tasks that promote the ability to critically evaluate research, to employ a systematic approach to lab-based studies, and to write-up lab reports in the APA standard form. Students will also learn how to use the SPSS statistical package. Some of the teaching is front-loaded to ensure students are prepared for the higher- level methods in PSY206.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Demonstrate knowledge of a variety of research methods tools that psychologists have at their disposal.

2.  Through active participation in class and assessments, evaluate experimental designs and formulate solutions to routine design problems.

3.  Develop understanding of the rationale for statistical analysis in psychology research.

4.  Demonstrate competence in the use and reporting of descriptive & inferential analysis using SPSS.

5.  Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the British Psychological Society Code of Conduct, Ethical Principles and Guidelines.

6.  Demonstrate an ability to write up a psychology investigation in standard American Psychological Association (APA) format.

Indicative Content

1 The Role of Research in Psychology

Introduction to scientific enquiry and the role of research in psychology

2 The Experimental Method

Defining experimental variables. Experimental design. Bias and control

3 Descriptive Statistics

Measures of central tendency and dispersion. Graphical and tabular presentation of data. Properties of the normal distribution curve. Standard error of the mean and confidence intervals

4 Inferential Statistics

Introduction to hypothesis formation and testing. The role of probability in statistical inference. Test selection for parametric and non-parametric data. Data analysis using inferential statistical tests. Type I and Type II errors.

5 Introduction to SPSS

Introduction to: data entry in SPSS; use of SPSS to summarise data in tables and graphs; use of SPSS to perform descriptive and inferential statistical analysis

6 Ethics

Introduction to ethical considerations and implications with reference to the British Psychological Society Guidelines

7 Library Skills

Identify, locate and evaluate appropriate academic sources for a set academic task using key library and information skills, and acknowledge their use

8 Report Writing

Conveying information from investigations using the appropriate APA standard. Conduct and report a literature review using appropriate academic sources.

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Teaching and learning is centred on small group practical classes. These sessions promote active engagement, confidence in the subject matter, and the ability to work as part of a group. Students are introduced to key research methods and principles. They are encouraged to question research designs and results, and to develop their own solutions to research related problems. Much of the teaching and coverage of the learning outcomes will be front loaded with more hours occurring in the first half of the semester. This is to ensure that students quickly develop a sufficient understanding of the workings of the SPSS package and statistics to prepare them for PSY206. These activities enable students to experience research in practice (60% of the module requires active enquiry). The module promotes strong links between teaching and research and is designed to develop confident, enquiring and critical thinkers. In addition, the module provides the strong foundations required to apply knowledge gained in other psychology modules.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 0
Tutorial/Seminar 4
Supervised Practical Activity 28
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 33
Independent 135

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2019/20 , and may be subject to change for future years.