SHE Level 6
SCQF Credit Points 60.00
ECTS Credit Points 30.00
Module Code MDC824558
Module Leader Kerri McPherson
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Psychology
  • A (September start)-B (January start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

Advanced Research in Applied Psychology 2 or equivalent.

Summary of Content

This module is the culmination of the advanced research elements in the Doctorate. The module is assessed through a dissertation that presents an authoritative and critical account of a major research study. The study itself should represent a contribution to knowledge in the student's chosen field of applied psychology. The dissertation comprises two elements. First, a standard research report that includes the rationale for the study, a critical review of the extant literature, a description and justification of the methodological approach adopted, an overview of the analytical process and key findings, a critical integration of the finding with existing knowledge, and the contextualised implications of the findings (maximum 10,000 words). Second, students will present an accompanying stakeholder dissemination activity. Choosing a target stakeholder group (e.g., academic, public, policy makers, practitioners) the student will prepare an audience-appropriate dissemination piece (e.g., peer-reviewed article, public information about the research, a policy briefing, a practitioner update). This second piece of work would typically be no longer than 4,000 words but this may not be a written piece of work it could, for example, be audio-visual or a virtual learning object.


While there is no formal syllabus for the module, research clinics, will be provided. These clinics will be tailored to meet the needs of cohorts. Students will be supported to identify and address their personal and professional development needs by their supervisor.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module students should be able to:1. Critically construct the broad philosophical, theoretical and methodological context and assumptions of their research.2. Demonstrate autonomy in the conduct of systematic, rigorous and original research in applied psychology.3. Show an integrated understanding of the ethical and research governance procedures and process required in conducting original research in applied psychology4. Reflectively defend their research in terms of its strengths and weaknesses drawing in a breadth of perspectives in applied psychology.5. Conceptualise the implications of research findings for the advancement of applied psychology theory, research and practice.6. Demonstrate an ability to present an authoritative and sophisticated written account of a research study.7. Disseminate complex research findings in an audience-appropriate manner.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The module is primarily an independent study module with supervisory support. This means that students are responsible for directing their learning journey and resources in conducting the project in consultation with a supervisor. To support this, the teaching and learning strategy focuses on supporting and facilitating effective independent learning. There will be two intensive blocks of classroom-based learning offered in the form of 'research clinics'. The content of these will be reviewed on an annual basis reflecting the needs of each cohort and students will select sessions based on their needs. In addition, students will receive up to 20 hours of supervision. It is anticipated that this supervision will include 15 hours of one-to-one supervision tutorials and an additional 5 hours of feedback (i.e. comment on written work). Supervision tutorials will be tailored to meet with needs of the supervisory pairings and may include face-to-face meetings, telephone/electronic support and email communication. Students are strongly encouraged to choose a research topic that is aligned with GCU's research excellence. This will provide a more meaningful learning experience by ensuring that students have access to expert supervision in a specific field. Moreover, students will have access to the resources of research groups.

Indicative Reading

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Barnes, M. & Cotterell, P. (2012). Critical perspectives on user involvement, Policy, Bristol. Bronson, D.E. & Davis, T.S. (2011). Finding and evaluating evidence: Systematic reviews and evidence-based practice . Oxford: Oxford University Press. Cottrell, S. (2011). Critical thinking skills: Developing effective analysis and argument . New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Field, A. (2013). Discovering statistics using IBM SPSS statistics: And sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll (4th ed.) London: SAGE. Forshaw, M. (2012). Critical thinking for psychology: A student guide . Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell. Greenhalgh, T. (2014). How to read a paper: The basics of evidence based medicine . London: Wiley-Blackwell. Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (2015). Designing qualitative research (6th ed.). Los Angeles, California: SAGE. Silverman, D., & Askews. (2013). Doing qualitative research (Fourth ed.). London: SAGE Publications Ltd. Smith, J. A., Flowers, P., & Larkin, M., 1971. (2009). Interpretative phenomenological analysis: Theory, method and research . London: SAGE. Wallace, M. (2016). Critical reading and writing for postgraduates (3rd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage. Reading lists will be updated on an annual basis with reference to relevant peer reviewed journals.

Transferrable Skills

On successful completion of the module students should be able to demonstrate the following transferrable skills: project design and management; literature synthesis/analysis; problem solving; empirical project design decision making; ethical and safety decision making; advanced communication; creativity and innovation; critical thinking; time management; writing for publication; dissemination for difference audiences.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Tutorials (FT) 27.00
Independent Learning (FT) 513.00
Assessment (FT) 60.00
Tutorials (PT) 27.00
Assessment (PT) 60.00
Independent Learning (PT) 513.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 1 1.00 100.00 50% research dissertation includes a 10,000 word research report and a stakeholder dissemination activity