SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 60.00
ECTS Credit Points 30.00
Module Code MMC825509
Module Leader Kareena McAloney-Kocaman
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Psychology
  • A (September start)-B (January start)-C (May start)

Summary of Content

The module is assessed through a single dissertation (10,000 words) of which there are two key elements: a mini systematic literature review and a small-scale empirical study. The systematic literature review (approx. 4,000 words) should focus on a topic of professional relevance within a field of applied psychology relevant to the student's programme of study (e.g. health, sport and exercise, counselling, forensic psychology). Building on this, students also conduct an empirical study (approx. 5,000 words) to inform psychology theory, practice, training and/or research linked their programme of applied psychology study. The empirical project should involve collecting original empirical data from participants, or equivalent alternatives such as computational modelling of empirical data or secondary data analysis, making use of existing large quantitative or qualitative data sets. The two elements of the dissertation should be linked by a critical, narrative commentary that describes the relationship between the review and the study and provides a critically reflective account of the strengths and weaknesses of the overall project, the experience of the research process, and implications for future personal development (approx. 1,000 words). Within the dissertation, the final submission of the systematic review and the empirical project should be formatted to the requirements of relevant journals. Students are required to assume a deep, systematic, critical and innovative stance in exploring a topic of relevance to their chosen field of applied psychology.


Students undertaking the module are required to devise an appropriate plan of study and empirical investigation relevant to the topic being explored This should be developed in consultation with their supervisor and agreed as a flexible contract of study/expectations. All students will participate in an intensive block of classroom-based learning designed to provide appropriate support in the development of a systematic review protocol.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module students should be able to:1. Identify, conceptualise and provide a critically reflective account of an issue relevant to their chosen domain of applied psychology, including theoretical, methodological and professional insights; 2. Produce a coherent dissertation containing a mini systematic review and small-scale empirical study, both written for peer review publication, with accompanying critically reflective narrative linking the two elements of work together;3. Project manage the systematic review and empirical project taking into account the financial, legal, ethical, safety and logistical issues, showing an ability to respond to challenges in creative and original ways.

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 an intensive block of classroom-based learning to provide students with appropriate support in the development of a systematic review protocol. In addition, students will receive up to 15 hours of supervision. It is anticipated that this supervision will include 10 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. Bettany-Saltikov, J. (2012). How to do a systematic literature review in nursing: A step-by-step guide. Maidenhead, England: Open University Press. Boland, A., Cherry, G.M., & Dickson, R. (2014). Doing a systematic review: A student's guide . London: Sage. 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. Forshaw, M. (2012). Critical thinking for psychology: A student guide . Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell. Gough, D., Oliver, S., & Thomas, J. (2012). An introduction to systematic reviews . London: Sage. Greenhalgh, T. (2014). How to read a paper: The basics of evidence based medicine . London: Wiley-Blackwell. Holly, C., Salmond, S. W., Saimbert, M. K., & Dawsonera. (2012). Comprehensive systematic review for advanced nursing practice . New York: Springer Pub. Pettigrew, M. & Roberts, H. (2006). Systematic reviews in the social sciences: A practical guide . Oxford: Blackwell. 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; systematic literature searching; 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.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Independent Learning (PT) 497.00
Assessment (PT) 60.00
Independent Learning (FT) 497.00
Seminars (FT) 28.00
Tutorials (FT) 15.00
Seminars (PT) 28.00
Assessment (FT) 60.00
Tutorials (PT) 15.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 1 1.00 100.00 50% 10,000 word dissertation