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PSY8082 : Research Skills for Psychological Research in Clinical Settings

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Kate Swainston
  • Owning School: Psychology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


The aim of this module is to ensure students are equipped with the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to efficiently plan and conduct a piece of independent research which they will ultimately conduct within their Dissertation as part of PSY8037. This module will help students to become aware of, conceptualise, and develop the skills and competencies necessary to efficiently access, report and critique the research literature. Emphasis will be placed on the fundamental process of formulating research questions and developing research designs to address such questions. Students will be supported to develop knowledge and skills pertinent to accessing, describing and evaluating research and writing effective research proposals, as well as having the opportunity to practice fundamental skills in managing and preparing data and planning appropriate analysis.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics covered may include:
•       Accessing and reporting the scientific literature
•       Critical appraisal of research
•       Evaluating methods employed in clinical psychological research (e.g., single case design, pre-post pragmatic service evaluation)
•       Developing research questions
•       Research design: quantitative methods
•       Research design: qualitative methods
•       Sample size considerations in research
•       Ethical Principles in Research and Open Science practices
•       Research Governance: Ethics applications, consent, risk assessment and data management plans
•       Data handling and preparing data for analysis
•       SPSS skills

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials101:0010:00Non-synchronous online lecture/seminar material - online e-learning content.
Guided Independent StudySkills practice80:304:00Online learning activities: reflection, critical appraisal & appl of skills & concepts from teaching
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops82:0016:00PiP: Application of concepts through small group discussion and problem-based learning activities
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study170:0070:00Assessment preparation and completion, further reading and study.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The teaching methods outlined are designed to facilitate students’ understanding, conceptualisation and ability to apply knowledge and skills covered within the online lecture materials and activities. Online pre-recorded lectures will provide straightforward didactic teaching content related to the topics covered. Live workshops will involve coverage of topic content, student questions and group problem-based learning activities. The content of these live workshops will reflect development and consolidation of skills primarily through small-group problem-based learning tasks and practical lab-based sessions in which students are required to work with data within programs such as SPSS. The workshops will be arranged as timetabled PIP sessions. Online learning activities (which may include brief quizzes or reflective activities) will include application of knowledge and skills to specific examples of research. The lectures, online activities and workshops will directly link to the knowledge and skills assessed within the Module Assessments.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M25Brief written assignment - Reporting research (500 words)
Written exercise1M25Brief written assignment - Clinical Research Methods (500 words)
Research proposal1M50Abbreviated research proposal assignment (1,000 words)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Over the course of the completion of the assessments, online activities and workshop exercises, students will be required to develop, demonstrate and reflect upon the acquisition of a number of key foundational research skills. The summative assessments for the module will involve the application and demonstration of knowledge and skills related to each of the module topics, with each of the three assignments emphasizing the demonstration of specific learning outcomes. Written assessment 1 (Brief written assignment - Reporting Research) will involve submitting an assignment focused on the critical appraisal of how research methodology and analyses are reported within an example text. Written exercise 2 (Brief written assignment - Clinical Research Methods) will involve selecting a paper from a list of studies, which describes a research study conducted within a clinical psychology setting, and engaging in critical evaluation of the methodology employed. Students will also submit a brief Research Proposal in which they formulate the rationale for a research study with appropriate justification of aims, methods, sample size and analysis strategy. The assessments therefore provide a clear demonstration of whether students have achieved module learning outcomes in a synthesised manner.

The assignments will assess three related but distinct aspects of research skills. Focussing on each will ensure due attention to crucial skills and operationalising these in an iterative fashion. Students often report anxiety and lack of confidence regarding research methods and statistics in psychology and assessments which contribute to large proportions of summative grades in this subject have the potential to cause some anxiety and concern. The assessment component of the module is split into three brief, lower weighted assessments in order to help mitigate such concerns, as well as allowing students to work towards addressing the learning outcomes throughout the Semester. This will also allow students to receive and utilise assessment feedback to inform future assignments in the same module. All three components will help to support students with their completion of the MSc more broadly. The first two brief written assignments, completed in the first part of the Semester, will provide students with learning experiences which will support completion of the assignments undertaken as part of other Core and Optional Modules on the MSc through enhancing their understanding of research and their ability to critique research methodology. The third will directly contribute feed into knowledge and skills pertinent to completing the dissertation.

Whilst no formative assessment submission will take place, students will have the opportunity to complete multiple formative learning experiences which will allow for engaging and applying knowledge and skills assessed within the summative assessments and obtaining feedback. Online activities and associated workshops will provide a number of specific exercises in which students engage with the taught content and apply specific skills. For example, an online lecture and associated activity will involve critiquing a research study and identifying key points regarding strengths and weaknesses of the paper. The associated workshop will involve peer feedback and discussion regarding students’ initial perspectives and students will then be provided with a number of exemplar key points that could have been addressed in such discussion. Workshop activities will also involve peer-led feedback on components of the first written assignment. Students will also practice and demonstrate skills involving critical appraisal of methodologies and planning and conducting analysis within these workshops, which will serve to prepare students to complete the summative assessments. The learning experiences encountered in these workshops fulfil the requirement of formative assessment feedback outlined in the University’

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