Research Methods for Psychology (Introduction) Birbeck University of London
Price: GBP 650

    Course details


    Students will usually be expected to have completed or to be in the process of completing one of the other core courses on their programme of study. Students should also note that all modules on the Certificate course are taught at university level [first year, Level 4] and students should be able to read, write and speak English fluently in order to study and undertake assessments on the course. Students new to psychology will benefit from undertaking some preparatory reading as detailed below.


    The overall aim of this module is to introduce students to research methodology in psychology and to enable them to develop an understanding of the challenges of the research process including ethical considerations and the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. The module will also provide students with an introductory understanding of data collection and analysis but the priority is that students develop a good grasp of research design.

    Detailed aims are as follows:

    • Review different research methodologies used in psychological research.

    • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a range of research methodologies.

    • Discuss a range of simple research designs and demonstrate basic data analysis.

    • Carry out one or more simple experiments in class.

    • Introduce a range of statistical tests.

    • Begin to understand how to evaluate and interpret research.

    • Identify the ethical principles involved when conducting research.

    • To appreciate how descriptive statistics are used to represent and summarize data.

    • To realise how different levels of measurement affect the choice of statistical test.

    • To recognise the difference between quantitative and qualitative methods.

    • To understand how statistical tests can be used to make inferences to the wider population.

    • To distinguish between tests of difference and tests of association.

    • To understand how the interpretation of findings can be affected by other factors.

    • To consider advantages and disadvantages of different methods with respect to experimenter and participant effects.

    • To develop skills in writing laboratory reports based upon class experiments.


    On successful completion of this course you should be able to:

    • Conduct basic calculations using a calculator and a computer

    • Obtain information from tables, graphs and charts

    • Carry out psychological experiments in class with the other students

    • Become aware of ethical issues concerning experiments

    • Write laboratory reports following the conventional format

    • Access Moodle to obtain course material and submit assignments via Turnitin

    • Review and critically comment on background literature

    • Select appropriate statistical tests to analyse psychological data

    • Have a basic understanding of how to carry out statistical analysis by hand and in SPSS

    • Have a basic understanding of how to interpret findings from statistical analysis

    • Discuss and implement a range of strategies to support your learning


    This course will typically include the following:



    • BPS and APA ethical guidelines work working with humans and animals (briefing and debriefing, use of deception, informed consent and right to withdraw, confidentiality, etc.)

    • Examples from the literature of desirable and non-desirable ethical practices


    Quantitative methods

    • Overview of quantitative methods (e.g. laboratory, field and natural experiments)

    • Overview of analysis of quantitative numeric material (e.g. descriptive and inferential statistics)

    • Understanding and evaluating questionnaire design

    • Cause and effect: Examining effects of the independent variable(s) on the dependent variable(s) or score(s)

    • Hypothesis testing (experimental and null hypotheses)

    • Control groups and baseline measures

    • Random selection and random allocation

    • ABBA designs and counterbalancing

    • Levels of measurement (nominal, ordinal, interval, ratio)

    • Experimental design (between participants, within participants, matched pairs)

    • Comparing tests of difference and tests of association (correlation)

    • Overview of non-parametric tests to be covered e.g. Sign, Wilcoxon, Mann-Whitney, Chi Squared and Spearman correlation

    • Selecting statistical tests based on experimental design and level of measurement, and using a decision tree

    • Defining basic experimental terms (e.g. variables)

    Qualitative methods

    • Overview of qualitative methods (e.g. naturalistic observation, interviews and questionnaire studies)

    • Compiling interview, questionnaire and survey questions (e.g. open and closed questions)

    • Observational methods with and without intervention (e.g. participant and non-participant observation)

    • Sources of bias (e.g. response bias, reactivity in participants)


    • Summarising data using descriptive statistics

    • Understanding the difference between descriptive and inferential statistics

    • Measures of central tendency (mean, median, mode)

    • Measures of dispersion (range, interquartile range, variance and standard deviation)

    • Plotting frequency distributions (histograms & polygons)

    • Distinguishing between tests of difference and tests of association

    • Worked examples of non-parametric tests of difference (Sign, Wilcoxon, Mann-Whitney)

    • Worked examples of Chi Squared test for nominal data (goodness of fit, 2 by 2 and larger contingency tables, observed and expected values, small sample sizes)

    • Drawing bar charts and line graphs

    • Worked example of non-parametric test of association (Spearman correlation)

    • Drawing and interpreting scattergrams/scatterplots

    • Levels of significance

    • Comparing calculated values with table values, interpreting and expressing findings

    • Defining basic statistical terms (e.g. standard deviation)


    • Defining variables and entering data

    • Selecting descriptive statistics (measures of central tendency and dispersion)

    • Producing tables, graphs and charts

    • Cutting and pasting tables, graphs and charts into laboratory reports

    • Carrying out non-parametric tests of difference (Mann-Whitney and Wilcoxon)

    • Producing scatterplots and requesting 'best fit' line

    • Carrying out Chi Squared tests

    • Carrying out non-parametric test of association (Spearman)

    • Examining and interpreting output tables


    • Using a basic calculator for simple statistical calculations

    • Obtaining information from tables, graphs and charts

    • Understanding decimal places and rounding up scores

    • Working out fractions, percentages and ratios

    • Consulting statistical tables

    • Converting proportions to percentages

    • Ranking data

    • Writing laboratory reports (different sections, word count for each section, etc.)

    • Practical marking exercise with examples of previous class reports

    • Referencing

    • Ownership and plagiarism

    • Using Turnitin to check for originality and submit assignments

    Updated on 22 November, 2018

    Job roles this course is suitable for:

    Psychologist , Psychology Lecturer , Behavior Therapist

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