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University of Plymouth: Research Methods in Psychology

Institution University of Plymouth View institution profile
Department School of Psychology
Telephone +44 (0) 1752 585858
Study type Taught


The MSc Research Methods in Psychology (RMP) programme offers advanced training in the methods and application of psychological science, linked to advanced treatment of the psychological theories and methods in a student’s chosen area of specialisation. Students will gain in-depth and highly specialised expertise with cutting edge theory and methods in their area of interest, using elective modules to tailor their path through the programme to their chosen specialty, undertaking novel research, and extending the boundaries of current knowledge under the guidance of experts.

A thorough, experientially-based training in psychological research methods Through core modules in advanced research methods, students on all programmes will gain a secure understanding of the theory, application and limitations of quantitative statistical methods for experimental and observational data. Enhanced emphasis will be placed on fluency in data manipulation and visualisation, and in developing insight and understanding for the ways in which assumptions and theory form the basis on which statistics can be used for scientific inference. Specialist techniques (e.g. Bayesian inference, approaches to causal analysis in non-experimental data) will be offered, to ensure students can extend this conceptual understanding with practical experience applying specific techniques required in particular research domains.

Advanced training in theoretical and empirical advances in cognitive and brain science, behaviour change, or clinical psychology Through the Issues in Cognitive and Brain Science and Foundations of Clinical Psychology modules students will develop awareness and understanding of new research questions, debates and findings in their chosen field. Elective modules will enable students to extend this knowledge, tailoring their learning according to their specific interests. These modules are cross-cutting in nature, designed to integrate multiple research perspectives and prove relevant in different combinations for a variety of students.

Deep and thorough conceptual understanding of chosen areas of study All aspects of these programmes aim towards deepening conceptual understanding of the theoretical, empirical, and methodological advances in their field. Students’ achievements on each module will be assessed entirely through coursework, which will provide a stimulus and opportunity for them to critically evaluate the material covered, to apply it to new problems, and to develop new ideas for future research.

Professionalism and professional identity For all programmes, we shall organise the academic year such that students are encouraged to think of psychological research and practice as an iterative, cyclical process involving: enquiry, design, technique, communication, practice, and reflection. Students will be encouraged to reflect on their learning regularly throughout the year, and tutorial activities will ensure this is integrated within their own research practice. The work undertaken in all modules aims to develop students’ critical understanding of research methodology, and apply it to the design of their own research projects.

A considered approach to PT study PT study will allow some students to combine PT research assistant or similar work with study, again enhancing their skills and experience and increasing the chance of successfully accessing PhD funding or graduate-level employment on graduation.

As appropriate to master’s-level study, students will be expected to develop their own research ideas and hypotheses, based on a thorough review and understanding of the relevant literature, and to develop methods and analyses with increasing autonomy, with the support and guidance of a project supervisor. The absolute proportion of students’ contributions will necessarily vary depending on the complexity and familiarity of the methods used, but this contribution should be substantially greater than for an undergraduate project.


University of Plymouth

The University of Plymouth is a dynamic, ambitious and award-winning institution with a research-led culture that encourages innovative and creative ideas with the confidence to turn these into reality. Plymouth is a modern campus university ideally placed in the centre of Britain’s Ocean City.

Why choose Plymouth?

  • Join a Top 5 UK modern university (Times Higher Education Young University Ranking, 2022)
  • More than three quarters of our research was ranked either World-Leading or Internationally Excellent (Research Excellence Framework, 2021)
  •  7th most affordable student city in the UK (Superprof, 2022)
  • Top 10 best UK University based on …
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