School of Psychology

Ethics, Philosophy and Methods (301C8)

Ethics, Philosophy and Methods of Research

Module 301C8

Module details for 2013/14.

15 credits

FHEQ Level 7 (Masters)

Module Outline

This module will consider the conceptual foundations of psychological research and is divided into three key elements.
1) Ethics and Research Governance. During this part of the module students will learn about the ethical principles and guidelines relating to research in psychology, in particular the BPS code of conduct and how it applies to research studies, and the UK frameworks for research governance. The ethical issues involved in using animals to study psychology will also be addressed.
2) Philosophy of Science. This part of the module explores different approaches to what it means for psychology to be scientific and why it matters. Half of the material considers classic philosophy of science as represented in the views of Popper, Kuhn and Lakatos and how they apply to psychology. The remaining material considers the foundations of statistical inference, comparing the conceptual basis of orthodox (Neyman Pearson) statistics with that of Bayesian statistics. The aim is to clear up popular misconceptions in interpreting statistics, not to teach any particular statistical technique.
3) Qualitative methods. These are becoming increasingly important in psychology and related disciplines (e.g., biology, medicine, sociology). Nevertheless, heated debates continue to rage about their essential qualities (if any) and `quality' (if any). In this part of the module we will examine all aspects of qualitative research, from (claimed) philosophical underpinnings, through method selection, project planning, ethical considerations, data collection, data analysis, and the production, assessment, and presentation of results, though to the scientific, practical, ethical, and theoretical benefits of the end product(s). Particular attention will be given to the prospects of developing qualitative methods that are truly complementary to quantitative ones

Module learning outcomes

Apply the UK framewords for Research Governance and the BPS Code of Conduct, Ethical Principles and Guidelines to research questions in psychology

Explain what the scientific basis of psychology is by linking ideas from philosophy of science to research areas in psychology

Critically evaluate the merits of at least one qualitative method, both in its own terms and in relation to currently dominant quantitative methods

Coursework components. Weighted as shown below.
EssayT1 Week 5 33.00%
EssayT1 Week 8 34.00%
EssayT1 Week 12 33.00%

Submission deadlines may vary for different types of assignment/groups of students.


Coursework components (if listed) total 100% of the overall coursework weighting value.

TermMethodDurationWeek pattern
Autumn SemesterLecture2 hours111111111111

How to read the week pattern

The numbers indicate the weeks of the term and how many events take place each week.

Prof Pete Clifton

Assess convenor

Prof Zoltan Dienes

Assess convenor

Dr John Drury

Assess convenor

Dr Vivian Vignoles

Assess convenor

Prof Helga Dittmar

Assess convenor

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