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Psychological Research Methods with Data Science
Department of Psychology,
Faculty of Science
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 will 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 will 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 are interested in: from cognitive and developmental, to social and clinical psychology.
Alongside your data science training you will learn a broad range of research techniques such as neuroimaging (EEG, fMRI), behavioural genetics, clinical trial design, qualitative interview, diary study methodologies and specialist methods for working with infants, children and clinical populations. You will 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 clinical service delivery
- 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.
- Example student publications
- Simmonds-Buckley, M., Osivwemu, E. O., Kellett, S., & Taylor, C. (2022). The acceptability of cognitive analytic therapy (CAT): Meta-analysis and benchmarking of treatment refusal and treatment dropout rates. Clinical Psychology Review, 96, 102187.
- Griffin, B., Conner, M., & Norman, P. (2022). Applying an extended protection motivation theory to predict Covid-19 vaccination intentions and uptake in 50–64 year olds in the UK. Social Science & Medicine, 298, 114819.
- Tait, J., Edmeade, L., & Delgadillo, J. (2022). Are depressed patients’ coping strategies associated with psychotherapy treatment outcomes? Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 95, 98–112.
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:
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Current Issues in Psychological Research
This unit describes how multiple research methods can address current debates in Psychological research. Sessions 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. 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
- 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
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.
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.
- 1 year full-time
- 2 years part-time
You’ll learn through small-group teaching in a mixture of seminars, workshops and one-to-one supervision.
Your individual research project contributes one third of the overall course credit. Here you’ll gain first-hand experience as a researcher, and will have access to the outstanding research facilities offered in Sheffield.
For the research project, you will be partnered with a dedicated academic mentor who will provide guidance and oversee your work. This involves weekly meetings with your supervisor, fostering a platform for in-depth discussions surrounding your independent exploration of the research question.
For part-time students, the engagement with the research project and systematic review assignment takes place in the second year of the program, allowing for a structured and paced approach to your academic work.
All assessment is coursework-based. Regular feedback is provided, so students can understand their own development throughout the course.
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.
Department of Psychology
The Department of Psychology at Sheffield is focused on exploring the science behind the human brain and human behaviour.
Our teaching is informed by cutting-edge scientific research, which ranges from neuroscience through to child development and understanding why psychological therapies are effective. All of this has an impact on wider society.
Our work explores health and wellbeing, lifestyle choices, cognitive behavioural therapy, safe driving, mother-baby interaction, autism, Parkinson's disease, and reducing prejudice and inequality. It’s research like this that our students are able to get involved in throughout their course.
Minimum 2:1 undergraduate honours degree in psychology or a related subject.
Applicants will need evidence of undergraduate training in statistics for psychology.
Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.
Fees and funding
You can apply for 2024 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.