MSc
2022 start September 

Psychological Research Methods with Data Science

Department of Psychology, Faculty of Science

Make the transition from psychology student to data scientist with our MSc. The course combines practical training in the latest research techniques with classes in computational data analysis.
Postgraduate Psychological Research Methods student

Course description

Bringing together practical training in the latest research techniques with computational data analysis classes, this course has been developed to enable psychology students to make the transition to becoming data scientists.

We’ll train you in the most commonly applied quantitative methods including multilevel modelling, factor analysis, and structural equation modelling, as well as the skills of when to apply such techniques and how to interpret the output. Our leading psychologists, your teachers, have extensive experience of handling large data sets to answer pressing problems in psychology and they’ll lead your computational data analysis training and aid your transition to data science. Throughout your course, we'll teach you the skills you need and give you the opportunities to apply them to the area of psychology that you're interested in: from cognitive and developmental, to social and clinical psychology.

Alongside your data science training you'll learn a broad range of research techniques from neuroimaging (EEG, fMRI), behavioural genetics, through experimental methodologies and clinical trial design, to qualitative interview, diary study methodologies and specialist methods for working with infants, children and clinical populations. You'll also begin training in a range of skills that are important for data scientists in academia and professional roles: you'll understand ethical issues and the implications of using data to predict and influence human behaviour, and develop your presentation skills ready to take part in our annual student-led summer conference.

The research project and literature review course components, which include coverage of meta-analysis, give you the opportunity to focus on a chosen psychological research question in detail under the supervision of one of our world-class researchers. You can choose a supervisor from an area of psychology that matches your research interests and future career aspirations within cognitive, developmental, social or clinical psychology. These projects give you the opportunity to put your new data science and research methods knowledge into practice while addressing an issue at the cutting edge of psychological research. It's common for MSc research projects and literature reviews to form the basis of publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Example research projects
  • Multilevel modelling of therapeutic change trajectories within an IAPT service
  • The effects of food advertising through advergames on children’s eating behaviour – exploring children’s understanding of advertising as a moderator
  • Using Social Identity Theory to explore predictors of affirmative action support: the indirect effect of policy maker prototypicality.

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    Psychological Research Methods at Sheffield

    In addition to Psychological Research Methods with Data Science, 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:

    Modules

    The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department directly.

    Core modules:

    Research Project in Psychological Research Methods with Data Science

    The module allows students to conduct, analyse, and write up a research project under the guidance of an academic supervisor. Students gain first-hand practical experience of managing the research process, from the formulation of a specific research question on the basis of a review of relevant literature and guidance from the supervisor, to the design, execution, analysis, and report of a study. Projects typically involve the management, analysis, and visualisation of scientific datasets, through the use of current techniques in data science. Projects are written up in the standard format for submission to an appropriate academic journal.

    60 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
    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
    Advanced Statistical Methods for Psychologists

    This module covers advanced statistical techniques increasingly required in psychological research, specifically confirmatory factor analysis, structural equation modelling, multilevel modelling for both cross-sectional and longitudinal data, and generalised linear models. Lectures will be used to teach the rationale and principles behind these techniques, with practical sessions offering the opportunity to apply and develop students’ knowledge. The course will use the statistical environment R.

    15 credits
    Data Analysis and Visualisation

    This module provides basic skills in computational data analysis. Students will learn how to import/export scientific data sets in different formats, how to process and transform them, and how to visualise results. Teaching will be hands-on and computer lab-based. Teaching will focus on the programming language R and associated scientific software. No prior programming experience will be necessary.

    15 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

    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.

    Teaching

    You’ll learn through small-group teaching in a mixture of seminars, workshops and one-to-one supervision.

    Assessment

    All assessment is coursework-based.

    Duration

    • 1 year full-time
    • 2 years part-time

    Your career

    Demand is growing for Data Scientists. With practical skills in data handling and interpretation, coupled with an understanding of the ethical implications of using data to predict and influence human behaviour, you'll be well equipped to pursue an exciting career in a range of industries, including:

    • Government and the Civil Service, working on services that millions of people use every day;
    • Large technology and social media companies, interpreting marketing research to build customer insight;
    • Higher education conducting scientific research;
    • Finance or banking, building bespoke customer solutions.

    If you choose to continue your research training, you’ll be well equipped to pursue a PhD.

    Entry requirements

    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 a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

    Pathway programme for international students

    If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for a pre-masters programme in Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

    We also accept a range of other UK qualifications and other EU/international qualifications.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

    Fees and funding

    Department bursaries

    Each year we offer two bursaries to students on this course. If you're awarded a bursary you'll receive a £1,500 reduction in your tuition fees. These bursaries are awarded on a competitive basis, based on:

    • academic performance as indicated by a grade point average and transcript
    • other relevant skills and knowledge (for example, programming courses outside the degree or relevant work experience)
    • research activity (co-authoring papers, conference presentations, etc)
    • personal statement, which should include information on why you want to do the course you have applied for and how it fits with your aspirations

    To be considered for a bursary in the year that you intend to start your course, submit your application to study with us by 31 May. All applications received before this deadline will automatically be considered for a bursary.

    Apply

    You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

    Apply now

    Contact

    psy-pg-admissions@sheffield.ac.uk
    +44 114 222 6533

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    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.

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