Module
descriptions

for MSc Psychology

 

Research Methods 1

The aim of this module is to provide students with the necessary basic skills and knowledge to engage in elementary research methods and statistical analysis. The module will introduce students to the scientific method, ethics in Psychology, statistical terminology and reasoning, laboratory report procedure, formatting and writing, and will teach general studies skills required for successful study at this level (e.g. how to read and write a journal article). The module will include an introduction to SPSS and to statistical tests such as correlation and chi square. The work accomplished in this module will provide the basis for progression to Research Methods 2 in Term 2.

 

Biological Psychology

The aim of this module is to provide students with a grounding in, and understanding of, the biological basis of behaviour. The module will introduce students to the central nervous system and its function, how nerve cells communicate, methods used by biological psychologists, and to the role of the brain in behaviours such as sensation, perception, emotional recognition and expression, decision-making and others. The module will examine critically the relationship between biological processes/structures (especially those in the brain) and behaviour.

 

Cognitive Psychology

The aim of this module is to introduce students to the abstract mental processes involved in human behaviours and abilities. The module aims to guide students through human cognition from the principles of perception through attention, learning and memory, and thence onto higher order issues such as consciousness and the language of thought.

 

Society and the Individual

This module will focus on and distinguish between the overarching social approach and the role of the individual difference and variation in social processes. In doing so it familiarises students with core concepts and theory relating to group processes as well as psychology of the individual within the greater social context. This module will also cover a broad view of different personality theories including trait theory (e.g. Big Five), humanistic and psychodynamic, in relation to the nomothetic and idiographic approaches.

 

Lifespan

This module aims to provide an account of the age-related changes across the human life span, namely the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development of the person from conception, through adolescence and early adulthood to late adulthood and old age. In developing an understanding of the life-span perspective, the intricate interaction between biology, environment and culture and related issues is emphasised. In addition, particular attention will be paid to importance of social relationships across the lifespan, work and retirement, and issues related to death and bereavement. Importantly, the mystery of intelligence will also be tackled alongside a consideration of cognitive development across the lifespan.

 

Conceptual and Historical Issues in Psychology

Through this module students will become familiar with the history of Psychology and its emergence as an independent discipline in the nineteenth century. The module will also introduce a range of key conceptual areas of debate, which will encourage the students to engage in discussions and to apply and consider opposing views in relation to key areas of conceptual debate within psychology.

 

Research Methods 2

The aims for this module are for students to build on the skills acquired in Research Methods 1 and to develop new ones through a series of lectures, practical classes and group work. Students will be taught the theory and application of a series of new statistical tests considered to be of an intermediate level. Laboratory reports in this course will be largely student led in terms of design and data collection, providing experience for students who will start preparing their dissertation research in the following semester.

 

Research Methods 3 & Research Project

The research project is a substantial piece of independent empirical work conducted by student and which provides students with the opportunity to apply what they have learned throughout the course, in the form of an empirical piece of research. It is the culmination of the Programme and is a core element of the degree. Students choose a research topic that interests them and for which they have undertaken a comprehensive literature review to ensure that the project is viable and original.

All research projects are supervised and staff will supervise projects in areas in which they have specific expertise and competence although supervisors can consider supervising research projects outside their specific research interests. Students beginning thinking of potential research ideas in Term 1 with the aim of submitting an application for ethical approval in Term 2.

In support of the research project in Term 3, the module includes a taught component which introduces students to advanced research methods. Students will learn the theory behind a number of more advanced statistical techniques as well as learning about qualitative methods.

 

Cultural Psychology

This module is intended to familiarize students with current issues in psychology relating to culture, universality and individual difference. In particular several core areas will be covered, namely developmental issues, emotions, values, self-identity, and psychopathology. Empirical works and major reviews in this area will be presented and students will be required to discuss the works with a view to identifying the implications of these works for psychological understanding and application.

 

The Psychology of Motivation

This module explores the concept of motivation, which is defined to be the energizer of behaviour. Often, internal states are believed to result in a motivation, but other forces can influence motivation as well. As there is not one cause we can point to for any complex human behaviour, motivation is a fascinating and complex topic of study. For example, we could ask ourselves why do we eat? Do we only have sex for procreation?
In this module, you would not only learn about biological, social and cognitive theories of motivation and emotion, but also apply this knowledge to a variety of complex human motivations. Many of the classes will be led by students, where different groups of students approach a behaviour from a specific angle and inform the other groups during class time. For example, how does the hormone leptin signal satiety? How do cultural factors influence whether you eat more or less? What can we learn about our ‘normal’ eating behaviour from disordered eating?
As such, together we try to compile the theories and research concerning a range of motivated behaviours. This is complemented by an exploration of emotions, which are closely related to motivation.

 

The Psychology of Humour

This module aims to introduce students to the scientific study of humour. The study of humour relates to aspects of social, cognitive, developmental, and evolutionary psychology. Humour is an integral part of human interaction and relates to such topics as friendship and social interaction, sex differences and status, verbal and non-verbal communication, mate choice and attractiveness, and health and wellbeing. In this elective, students will critically evaluate the theories which have been offered to explain the sense of humour, understand different types of humour and their hypothesised functions, and critically consider humour study methodology.

 

The Psychology of Religion and Belief

This module aims to introduce students to psychological theories and research findings related to the understanding of phenomena associated with religious belief (both organised and traditional), superstition, spirituality and practice. It aims to encourage an understanding of the psychological processes, and behaviours involved; the terms ‘religion’ and ‘religiosity’ will be applied in the widest sense in relation to a full range of belief systems and how these relate to the individual and society, ranging from the shamanistic through to organised world religions, superstition, religious experience and how these impact on every day behaviour and interaction.