Psychological Research Methods
Department of Psychology,
Faculty of Science
Learn the latest techniques in cutting-edge psychological research from the psychologists who are using them in their published studies – including clinical trial design, and specialist methods for working with infants, children and clinical populations.
Throughout your course you’ll gain an understanding of ethical issues in research, learn how to write a grant proposal, receive training in multivariate statistics, and develop your presentation skills to take part in our annual student-led summer conference.
You’ll put your new research methods knowledge into practice while addressing an issue at the cutting edge of psychology during your research project, tailored to your career goals across clinical, cognitive, developmental or social psychology.
Psychological Research Methods at Sheffield
In addition to Psychological Research Methods, at Sheffield we offer two other specialist masters courses in this area that allow you to specialise further and develop the skills you need for a successful career:
- MSc Psychological Research Methods with Advanced Statistics
- MSc Psychological Research Methods with Data Science
Example projects include
- Identifying risk factors for poor treatment outcomes in clinical therapy
- The roles of self-control, ambivalence and decision-making in the context of health behaviour change
- The development of cognitive flexibility / inhibitory control in the preschool / school years
- Example student publications
It's common for MSc research projects and literature reviews to form the basis of publications in peer-reviewed journals.
- Matthews D , Biney H, Abbot-Smith, K (2018) Individual differences in children’s pragmatic ability: A review of associations with formal language, social cognition, and executive functions. Language Learning and Development.
- Johnston, S., Krasuska, A., Millings, A., Lavda, A., & Thompson, A. R. (2018). Experiences of rosacea and its treatment: An interpretative phenomenological analysis. British Journal of Dermatology, 178, 154-160. doi: 10.1111/bjd.15780
- Vogt, KS & Norman, P (2018) Is mentalization-based therapy effective in treating the symptoms of borderline personality disorder? A systematic review. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice.
- Research Project in Psychology
Students conduct, analyse and write up a research project under the guidance of their academic supervisor. The topic and methods chosen will normally be closely related to the area of expertise of the supervisor. In conducting the research project under supervision, students gain first-hand practical experience of managing the research process, starting with the formulation of a specific research question on the basis of review of relevant literature and guidance from the supervisor, through to the design, execution and analysis of a study, and the writing-up of a report. All projects must be submitted to, and receive approval from, the Psychology Department Ethics Committee before they can proceed. Projects are written up in the standard format for submission to an appropriate academic journal (e.g., British Journal of Social Psychology).60 credits
- Systematically Reviewing Psychological Research
This module provides training in the advanced use of information retrieval and literature searching resources, such as Web of Knowledge and Google Scholar. Students will also be introduced to the different types of literature reviews that are commonly used to review psychological research, including narrative, systematic and meta-analytic reviews. In addition, students will be taught the use of a reference manager to organise and present references according to different journal styles. Students will be required to write a literature review of psychological research - the precise topic and journal styles will be agreed with the supervisor and module organiser.30 credits
- Current Issues in Psychological Research
This unit describes how multiple research methods can address current debates in Psychological research. Each session will cover a current debate and illustrate how research being conducted at the University of Sheffield and further afield is contributing to and shaping these debates. Subsequent group activities and discussions, will allow students to develop a position on contemporary debates in Psychology, informed by various research methods. Individual written work will allow students to explore one of the debates in depth allowing them to weigh up evidence, take a position on the debate and make suggestions for next research steps.The module will encourage critical appraisal, collaborative discussion and individual articulation of a position on contemporary debates in Psychology.15 credits
- Research Methods
This course provides coverage of both quantitative and qualitative methods for psychology graduates. It emphasises the relationship between the research question being addressed and choice of method of data collection. The course combines lectures and tutorials to help students develop critical awareness of the conceptual basis of various methods, their advantages and limitations. Topics may change from year to year depending on staff availability but include: diary methods and experience sampling, eye tracking, EEG methods, fMRI, questionnaire design and behavioural genetics. This module will help in the integration of knowledge from different strands of Psychology, and how to think analytically, critically and logically. It will provide essential preparation for being able to critically evaluate scientific literature from broad fields of psychology. It will also enhance students¿ transferable skills in critical thinking, and skills necessary to present logically structured arguments.30 credits
- Professional Skills for Psychologists
This unit will provide training in a range of professional skills including (a) writing grant proposals and understanding the submission criteria and review processes for papers and grant proposals, (b) speaking to an audience on different research topics, giving a presentation about a psychology project, using Powerpoint, and preparing handouts, (c) discussing ethical issues related to psychological research, teaching and practice, interpreting the British Psychological Society's and the American Psychology Association's codes of practice, understanding the work of ethical committees and professional discipline committees.30 credits
- Intermediate Multivariate Statistics for Psychology
This module covers the intermediate level statistical techniques needed in psychology. Lectures will be used to teach the rationale behind hypothesis testing and describe the principles behind techniques such as linear regression, including testing for mediation and moderation, reliability analysis and factor analysis. Students will also attend practical classes in order to apply and develop their knowledge with respect to selecting the appropriate analytic technique, interpreting output, and applying critical thinking to the results.15 credits
The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.
You’ll learn through small-group teaching in a mixture of seminars, workshops and one-to-one supervision.
From my masters thesis onwards, I’ve researched how children under five learn to talk. This took on a new significance when my son was born. I became aware of how little evidence-based advice there is for promoting language development. I’m now interested in contributing to this advice by focusing on the fundamentals of human language and human learning.
Dr Danielle Matthews
Teaches on: MSc Psychological Research Methods
All assessment is coursework-based.
- 1 year full-time
- 2 years part-time
This course is great preparation for a PhD or the next step towards clinical training. Our graduates have gone on to PhD training in neuroimaging, health psychology and social psychology. Graduates also go on to find roles in:
- NHS trusts or other public health organisations, in roles including Assistant Psychologist or Research Assistant
- charitable and not-for-profit organisations such as the Alzheimer's Society, Mind and Righsteps in roles including Psychology Practitioner or Mental Health Support Worker.
- academia as a psychological researcher or lecturer.
The MSc was fantastic in giving me skills that would help me become a researcher. I learnt advanced statistics and research methods, gained experience running systematic literature reviews, and even got practice writing grant applications. I continued to specialise in Developmental Psychology and completed my Masters dissertation project on how children learn to flexibly switch their attention. The MSc course was interesting and stimulating.
Dr Emma Blakey
MSc Psychological Research Methods
Now: Lecturer in Developmental Psychology, the University of Sheffield
A 2:1 honours degree or equivalent in psychology or a related discipline.
Evidence of undergraduate training in statistics for psychology is also required.
Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with 6.0 in the other components, or equivalent.
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.
Fees and funding
You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.
+44 114 222 6533
Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.
Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.