This strand will equip you with skills required for the effective scientific study of psychology. Some of these skills are practical ones, such as computer skills and presenting results of experiments, whilst others are more conceptual, for example on how best to structure an essay or to critique a scientific paper.
In the first two teaching blocks we equip you with the skills you need for degree level study, including critical thinking, how to write essays and practical reports, and use of excel and word computer software. In addition we cover the basics of experimental design and descriptive statistics. In the last two teaching blocks we concentrate more on experimental design, data and statistics in psychology, including the use of statistical software. We are aware that statistics is an area many students feel nervous about: we do not assume any maths knowledge above GCSE level and we aim to support all our students to graduate happy and confident dealing with data.
In Year 2 we move on to more advanced statistical analysis. These are essential tools for analyzing and interpreting the data that you will gather for your third year empirical research project – valuable methods used in published psychological experiments and a wide range of scientific and social research. This very practical part of the course strikes a balance between providing grounding in key statistical concepts and theories while also developing the skills needed to carry out analyses using statistical software and to interpret and report the results.
In each year the end of the Summer Term is given over to miniprojects in which you put your research methods training into practice by conducting your own research. Working in small groups, you choose to investigate one of a range of topics and are guided through the process of forming and specifying clear testable hypotheses, designing experiments to test them, gaining ethical approval, gathering data and performing statistical analyses using the research skills you have learned. Finally you share your findings at a 'mini conference' that is attended by staff and fellow students, where your group produces and presents a poster about your project. Miniprojects help prepare you for your final year project and develop your team work, communication and problem solving skills. Testing new ideas through careful observation and experiment is what science is all about; it is a creative process and lots of fun!
We have a custom made textbook to support key study skills throughout your degree: Slocombe, Katie (2010). All you ever wanted to know about research methods and academic skills. Pearson
In Year 1 we recommend reading about the topics covered in Dancey, Christine P. (2007). Statistics without maths for psychology. Pearson Prentice Hall, as a gentle introduction to statistics used in Psychology
In Year 2 we recommend Andy Field, Discovering Statistics Using SPSS: Third edition