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    MSc
    2023 start September 

    Psychological Research Methods

    Department of Psychology, Faculty of Science

    Tailor your training to your research interests and career goals, from clinical and cognitive to developmental and social psychology, as you study the latest techniques from published psychologists.
    Psychological research methods

    Course description

    Throughout your course, you'll learn the latest techniques in cutting-edge psychological research from the psychologists who are using them in their published studies. These include 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.

    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.

    From week one, you'll begin training in a range of skills that are important for psychologists in academia and professional roles. You'll understand ethical issues in research, learn how to write a grant proposal, receive training in multivariate statistics, 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 research methods knowledge into practice while addressing an issue at the cutting edge of psychological research.

    Example research projects
    • 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.

    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:

    Modules

    A selection of modules are available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Core modules:

    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 module will provide training in a range of professional research skills including (a) understanding and critically discussing ethical issues related to psychological research, interpreting professional codes of practice, and understanding the work of ethical committees and professional discipline committees; (b) writing grant proposals and understanding the submission criteria and review processes for papers and grant proposals; (c) understanding issues of reproducibility of research and open science practices addressing them; and (d) understanding processes of dissemination to academic and non-academic audiences.

    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.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses. You'll find out what makes us special.

    Upcoming open days and campus tours

    Duration

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

    Teaching

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

    Dr Danielle Matthews, Department of Psychology

    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

    Assessment

    All assessment is coursework-based.

    Your career

    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.

    Discover where your psychology masters could take you

    Entry requirements

    Minimum 2:1 undergraduate honours degree in psychology or a related subject. Applicants will need evidence of undergraduate training in statistics for psychology. 

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

    Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with 6.0 in the other components, 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.

    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.

    Dr Danielle Matthews, Department of Psychology

    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

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