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The University of Southampton

PSYC8022 Research Thesis

Module Overview

Trainees will identify a core research topic that will form the basis of their research thesis. Trainees will review relevant theoretical, empirical and professional practice literatures to generate clearly defined research questions and select appropriate research methods for data collection and analysis. Trainees will engage with the implications of their proposed research for clinical/educational psychology science and practice, and associated ethical implications. Trainees will gain experience of managing a research project and research budget. Towards the end of year 1 trainees will identify a team of supervisors (one of whom must be a member of Academic Staff in the Psychology AU) who will provide support and guidance throughout the thesis. Trainees work with their supervisory team to develop a research proposal that provides a clear rationale for the project, identifies testable research questions and hypotheses, and specifies the methods of data collection and analysis. The research proposal is submitted in Yr 2 for approval by supervisors and the module coordinator. Following approval trainees conduct a risk assessment and submit the final project protocol for approval by the University of Southampton Ethics and Research Governance Office (ERGO), and external ethics committees and R&D departments where appropriate. Data collection and analysis is completed throughout years 2 and 3. The thesis is submitted towards the end of Sem 2 Yr 3. Trainees present their thesis findings at the annual Postgraduate Research Conference (June, Yr 3), and for viva in the summer of Yr 3. Trainees subsequently amend their thesis in accordance with the examiner reports and archive the ratified thesis with the Graduate School. Where appropriate, trainees are asked to prepare their research for submission to a suitable peer-reviewed journal prior to completing the Programme.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate skills involved in formulating a research question for the generation of new knowledge
  • Place the research question within a broad theoretical and empirical psychological literature
  • Think through appropriate methodologies to test the research question
  • Collect, analyse, and interpret data
  • Show evidence of an ability to disseminate results through the production of a clear and concise empirical paper


1. Systematically searching and evaluating relevant theoretical and empirical literature 2. Preparing a research proposal, formulating research questions/hypotheses, selecting, developing and using appropriate methods for data collection and analysis. 3. Research ethics and risk assessment. 4. Research budget management. 5. Managing research supervision and research collaboration Research dissemination including preparing manuscripts for publication, and oral presentation. 6. Preparing for viva examination.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This is a 120 CATS (60 ECTS) module, which translates into a total study time of 1200 hours. Learning methods include lecture sessions, meetings with your supervisory team and independent study. You will be spending the majority of your time for this module on independent study, reading and interpreting empirical and theoretical research, developing your research question and hypotheses, choosing and implementing appropriate methods, analysing and interpreting your data, and writing this work up in an academic style. You will receive support and guidance from your supervisory team throughout the planning, implementation and write-up of your project. Following introductory teaching sessions led by the module coordinator trainees will consider their research interests and identify academic research supervisors (based in the Psychology AU) that best fit these research interests. Initial meetings with the supervisors will focus on the identification of a research question that is theoretically and empirically justifiable and that is sufficiently specific to allow the generation of one or more testable hypotheses. As the project develops, trainees (under supervision), take initiative and responsibility in moving the project forwards to identify appropriate methods/measures, recruit participants, to think through the project at a procedural level, and to understand the implications of the project for clinical/educational psychology. Trainees complete two progress reports that are reviewed by the supervisor team and the module coordinator. The module assumes basic prior knowledge of research methods equivalent to that provided during the Masters year of your doctorate and developed through your Small Scale Research Project.

Independent Study1166
Project supervision24
Total study time1200

Resources & Reading list

Khan HS, Kunz R, Kleijnen J, Antes G (2003). Five steps to conducting a systematic review. 

Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. ,96 , pp. 118-121.


Assessment Strategy

The submitted thesis proposal needs to provide the reviewer with sufficient information to make a reasonable judgement about the relevance and appropriateness of the project. The proposal must not exceed 3,000 words and must clearly articulate the purpose, design, measures, participant group(s), data management, ethical issues and theoretical/clinical relevance of the project. Note the word limit is a word limit and should not be considered a word target. There is no minimum word limit although a proposal less than 1500 words is unlikely to provide the required information in sufficient detail. The thesis is made up of a systematic review of a body of psychological theory and research and a related empirical paper . The maximum word count is 20,000 words; though the broad aim of writing two papers for publication may result in a thesis of around 15,000 words. Third year students are also asked to present orally at the annual Faculty PGR conference as part of training around dissemination of research and sharing of topics with colleagues and peers. The thesis is examined though a viva with an internal examiner (an academic from the School of Psychology who is not the supervisor) and an external examiner (from another University). Trainees have to satisfy a number of criteria for examiners to recommend that the degree is awarded. These criteria and the recommendation of examiners are outlined in the examiners’ recommendation form (see Appendix 6) and recommendations made by examiners are usually subject to a trainee making minor or modest corrections. As per the regulations for DEdPsych students, students may refer in this module but may not repeat.


MethodPercentage contribution
Thesis  (23000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Thesis 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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