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The University of Southampton

PSYC6022 MSc Dissertation

Module Overview

The aim of this module is to provide students with an opportunity to work with a member of the academic unit to develop a research question and implement a project that generates new knowledge in the field of psychology and that serves to extend the discipline. The format of the dissertation report should resemble that of a journal article reporting original data, and it should not exceed 10,000 words. The introductory section of the Dissertation should allow the reader to understand the problem you are tackling and why it is important. The dissertation should include answers to questions such as: How do these research findings advance knowledge in the specific area of interest? How does the research add to the existing literature? It should demonstrate competence in: literature search and review and formulation of research questions/hypotheses; understanding of relevant conceptual issues; appropriate use of methods (e.g. design, sampling, data collection); competence in analysis and presentation; competence in research project management (e.g. managing legal and ethical aspects, time, resources). The 10,000 word limit should not be seen as a target, but instead that the focus should be on writing a clear and concise piece of work that meets the learning outcomes of the module. A substantial component relates to developing a research question, choosing appropriate methods and analyses and disseminating the research effectively. This reflects the normal timeline of research leading to a publication, it is entirely appropriate for students and supervisors to prepare the Dissertation as a journal article to be submitted for peer review, if they so choose. Putting some parameters on the Dissertation is still necessary. Although many journals accept submissions of short papers, it is imperative that the learning outcomes for the module be met. After considering what a regular article might look like across the range of Psychology journals, we will impose a minimum of 6,000 words on the Dissertation. The dissertation must also be presented according to APA style with respect to formatting, references, etc. Writing a Dissertation with publication in mind brings up issues of Intellectual Property. If students and supervisors plan on submitting work for publication, they should discuss the relative contributions of all individuals involved, and the implications for authorship, author order, author responsibilities, timing of submission, etc. What is included in the word count? An Appendix can be included for detail related to risk assessment, ethics application, study materials, paper trail, codebooks, details of questionnaire construction / selection, and details of data preparation. Transcripts of interviews, focus-group discussions, and similar materials need not be included in the word count. It is also not necessary to include SPSS output in the Appendix because the relevant statistics (e.g., F or t values from ANOVAs or t-tests, respectively) can be reported more succinctly in the text and/or tables included with your dissertation. The Appendix should not exceed 5000 words. Tables and figures (if they are used) should appear in the main text, in the appropriate places. Dissertations that report qualitative studies will include illustrative quotations from your data. These should be placed in text boxes in the main text – up to 2000 words of illustrative quotations should suffice, any more if desired should be placed in an appendix. Excluded from the word count are the Cover Page, the Title Page, the Abstract, the References, the Footnotes, the Tables, the Figures, Illustrative Quotations, and the Appendices. This module is only taken by students on the following programmes: MSc Health Psychology MSc Foundations in Clinical Psychology MSc Research Methods in Psychology

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Interpret research findings.
  • Manage references using computerised search of databases/internet.
  • Communicate research findings effectively
  • Carry out data collection with attention to scientific, ethical and legal considerations.
  • Carry out appropriate data analysis.
  • Critically review a relevant literature
  • Selecting an appropriate research strategy and design


The topic of your dissertation is to be determined by you and your supervisor. Here we list a few key milestones for completing the dissertation. Please note that the dates (in bold) are specified deadlines, whilst the others are to be viewed as a guide to ensure completion. If you find you are not meeting the suggested deadlines you need to discuss this issue with your supervisor and draw a revised plan for completion. Milestones for completing the dissertation: October: Discuss possible projects with potential supervisors November: Log supervisor preferences (details to be communicated). January: Supervisor allocations. Early February: Apply for Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check or NHS passport, if needed (discuss with supervisor). Early March: Begin ethics application, determine level of assistance needed from School-based technical team. End of March: Ethics application submitted. Note this application includes • The online ethics form • Participant Information Sheets • Consent forms • Copies of questionnaires or interview schedules where • applicable • Adverts for participants where applicable April: Data collection should begin (to make use of undergraduate population). Mid July: Data collection should be completed. End of July: Data analysis completed. August: Final write up of introduction, methods, results and discussion. Supervisor feedback may be obtained for each section. September: Hand in date.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

You will work with a member of the psychology department to develop a research question and implement a project that generates new knowledge in the field of psychology and that serves to extend the discipline. Your supervisor will provide verbal and/or written feedback on your progress during the dissertation. This may include, for example, verbal feedback during supervision meetings, written feedback on draft ethics documents.

Completion of assessment task340
Wider reading or practice200
Supervised time in studio/workshop7
Project supervision50
Preparation for scheduled sessions1
Total study time600

Resources & Reading list

Denscombe, M. (2007). The Good research Guide: For Small Scale Social Research Projects. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Dissertation  (10000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Revised Dissertation  (10000 words) 100%


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Students may apply to their programme director for funding to support well-justified costs associated with the Dissertation research. Such costs might include, for example, travel involved in data collection (your own or participants') and/or payments or other incentives for participants and/or printing of questionnaires/consent forms etc. Typically the programmes are able to consider applications of up to £50, but this is subject to the quality of applications.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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