Behavioural Science Research Skills

Module titleBehavioural Science Research Skills
Module codePSYM202
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Dr David Doyle (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

If you are studying psychology to Masters level and beyond, you will need to develop a well-honed set of skills to enable you to conduct research and communicate your ideas effectively. In this module, you will learn important skills that will enable you to study and research psychology successfully. In particular, this module will provide invaluable training that will support the other modules you will undertake during your Masters. The initial six sessions are core for all students. In these sessions you will gain a deeper understanding of the ethical issues that surround research in psychology, and learn how best to communicate your research ideas using a range of methods (oral presentations, written research proposals and on TV, radio or in the press). In addition, the flexible nature of this module permits you to choose at least five from a wide range of optional sessions in order to make up the requisite number of eleven sessions. These choices are made dependent upon your MSc programme, self-assessment skills audit, interests and future aspirations. Indicative sessions might include writing up research for publication, learning how to use software such as e-Prime and Matlab, survey design, qualitative methods, observational techniques, use of statistical graphics and library skills training.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is to provide training in the essential skills of conducting and communicating research in the behavioural sciences. This module will assist you in the preparation of your dissertation. If you are part-time it is recommended that you take this module in the second year.

Through attending the weekly sessions and completing the assessments, you will further develop the following academic and professional skills:

  • problem solving (linking theory to practice, developing your own ideas with confidence, showing entrepreneurial awareness, being able to respond to novel and unfamiliar problems)
  • managing structure (identifying key demands of the task, setting clearly defined goals, responding flexibly to changing priorities)
  • time management (managing time effectively individually and within a group)
  • collaboration (respecting the views and values of others, taking initiative and leading others
  • supporting others in their work, maintaining group cohesiveness and purpose), and audience awareness (presenting ideas effectively in multiple formats, persuading others of the importance and relevance of your views, responding positively and effectively to questions).

The majority of sessions are taught by staff members with specific expertise in particular research methods and/or skills in communicating research. The module thus provides hands-on experience of specialised research methods employed by staff in their own research. These skills will in turn assist your own research in the context of the Research Apprenticeship module (PSYM210).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Conduct and communicate research in the behavioural sciences
  • 2. Explain in detail ethical and legal issues and procedures in behavioural sciences research, discuss the role of ethical committees, describe the relevant ethical codes related to your own research and demonstrate in practice how you will address such issues in your own research
  • 3. Describe the issues surrounding intellectual property rights and data protection

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Select and use different research methods
  • 5. Use library resources and bibliographic aids for the preparation of literature reviews
  • 6. Organise and write your thesis

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 7. Communicate ideas, principles and theories effectively, fluently and professionally by written, graphic and oral means
  • 8. Undertake independent learning and self-directed study (including good time management and the setting of appropriate timescales, precise clarification of the aims and expected results of research, library use and website deadlines)
  • 9. Communicate ideas, principles and theories effectively, fluently and professionally by written, graphic and oral means
  • 10. Use a wide range of computer resources for bibliographic searches and report research in various ways
  • 11. Deal with the print and broadcast media
  • 12. Develop team-working skills by working together on problem-based learning exercises

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Core sessions (compulsory for all students):

  • Managing research and academic honesty
  • Ethical issues in research
  • Study design and causal inference
  • How to write a research grant proposal
  • Conference presentations: Giving a talk (including use of Powerpoint), preparing scientific posters
  • Dealing with the media (radio and television interviews, print media, press releases)
  • How to write a dissertation

Indicative optional sessions (students to select a minimum of ten sessions from the list):

  • Bibliographic skills
  • Writing up research for publication
  • Statistical graphics
  • Survey design and web-based surveys x 2 sessions (take both)
  • Qualitative methods x 3 (take all)
  • Introduction to Matlab x 3 sessions (take all)
  • Introduction to E-Prime x 3 sessions (take all)
  • Meta-analysis and systematic literature reviews
  • Randomised controlled trials: efficacy to effectiveness
  • The MRC Complex Interventions Framework
  • New technologies in clinical research
  • Advanced statistical modelling
  • Psychophysiological data collection techniques x 2
  • Introduction to Open Science
  • Academic career development

Later in the year, your presentation and communication skills will be assessed in several ways. You will prepare a press release on a research article, and write a small grant application related to your proposed research.

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 Teaching18Compulsory lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching74Optional lectures
Guided Independent Study58Preparation for workshops and assessments


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Task preparation for and during core sessions (e.g., ethical case studies, critiquing research proposals, critiquing media interviews)500 words per sessionAll Generic feedback provided in relevant workshops

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
Small grant proposal75Approx. 1700 words, dependent on character/word limits in form sections1-10Written
Press release25500 words1-11Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Small grant proposalSmall grant proposal1-10By end of August
Press releasePress release1-11By end of August

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 submit further assessments based on which assessments were failed originally. The module mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Philips, E.M., and Pugh, D.S. (1987). How to get a PhD. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Behavioural science, research skills, research proposal, ethics, dissertation

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date