PY0795 - Practical Research Skills and Techniques

What will I learn on this module?

This module introduces you to a range of research skills and practical techniques which are essential for academic researchers. In semester 1 you will focus on specialist hardware and software techniques specific to psychology. Techniques will include the use of EEG, eye-tracking, near infra-red spectroscopy, and motion capture. Sessions will cover the rationale for the use of particular techniques, and the associated practical and methodological issues. Furthermore, you will spend several sessions learning how to implement your research designs and craft experiments using experiment building software as well as tackling issues such as millisecond precise timing in the programming language Python using the PsychoPy libraries. In semester 2 you will learn about the practicalities of being a researcher, including an overview of research funding, project planning and managing time, participant recruitment research ethics, the peer review process, responding to referee comments, and conference presentation skills. You will also be encouraged to self-reflect as a researcher, considering for example your media skills, employability prospects and your research career.

How will I learn on this module?

You will participate in a combination of lectures, workshops, demonstrations and tutor guided learning, led by experienced senior researchers and designed to provide breadth and depth of knowledge of research skills relevant within psychology. As well as experiencing lectures which will incorporate practical exercises, much of the learning on this module will be experiential, including student-led workshops where you will work collaboratively in small groups. For example, in semester 1 you will build an experiment in different software packages and examine the temporal precision of each using the scripting language Python. You will be required to exhibit independent learning of skills outside of taught classes. In addition to contact time during taught sessions, a series of recorded lectures and screen recordings will be provided to challenge thinking and give you the opportunity to practise what you have learned in class. In both semesters, the course will be delivered by a core set of academics, but you will also benefit from certain topics being presented by experts in their own field. You will also develop employability skills by gaining access to a range of experiences, resources and by developing an awareness of potential career pathways.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Resources will be available via the e-learning portal, including lecture slides, related supplementary materials, workshop materials, recommended readings and free-to-download relevant software packages. Announcements and discussion boards via Blackboard will be set up to encourage staff-student communication. Staff will be available to contact via e-mail or via arranged face to face meetings outside of class.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
KU1: Understand the ways in which research programmes are designed, conducted, and assessed, with an understanding of their impact on wider society.

KU2: Summarise and critically evaluate current knowledge, theory and evidence relevant to a range of specialist techniques within psychology.

KU3: Learn to use open-source research tools in accordance with sustainable, open-science practices.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
IPSA1: Apply a variety of techniques, advanced research methods and technological skills to promote independent research

IPSA2: Identify and reflect on your research skill development and competency.

IPSA3: Understand how to communicate with a wide range of audiences, disseminating research effectively in a range of outputs.

Personal Values Attributes:
PVA1: Synthesise research, theory and skills through reflective practice to enhance self-awareness, employability and professional identity.

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment:
The development of a participant recruitment advert, a summary of a PhD research proposal, responding to a referee’s comments, and a social media exercise using LinkedIn. KU1, IPSA2, PVA1.
Feedback will be given to the group in class at the end of each class or in the following class, and will be summarised in written form on Blackboard.

Summative assessment:
The module assessment will comprise three components:

Part 1 – 25%: a 2000 word written critical literature review citing at least one technique presented in semester 1, which will provide the opportunity for students to demonstrate their achievement of learning outcome KU2.

Part 2 – Part 2 – 25%: A psychology programming practical that will require you to build and demonstrate a working psychology experiment to a provided specification. This will provide an opportunity to achieve the learning outcomes KU3, IPSA1 and IPSA3

Part 3 – 50%: a reflective blog which highlights the student’s skill set and learning progress during the course of semester 2, and accompanying commentary which will provide the opportunity for students to demonstrate their achievement of learning outcomes KU1, IPSA2,IPSA3; PVA1.





Module abstract

This year-long module is designed to provide you with two distinct learning experiences. In semester one, you will learn new and innovative techniques for programming psychology experiments, as well as state of the art techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG), Motion Capture, and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). In semester two, content will pertain to practical research skills- everything you need to know to become a successful psychology researcher. This mix of weekly lectures, workshops and practical activities include the topics of project planning, research ethics, funding, employability skills, publication and review, conference presentation skills and media awareness. This module is research led, and research oriented, meaning that you will spend time learning about research methods, but also develop skills learning how to conduct your own research. In student-led sessions, small groups will be encouraged to work collaboratively. Assessments will comprise a critical literature review of a particular research technique, a psychology programming practical, and a reflective blog and accompanying commentary which will highlight your existing skill set and learning progress during the course. The reflective blog will enable you to build up a repository of personal skills which can aid in building on future education or employability skills.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 12 months Full Time

Department Psychology

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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