MSc Health Psychology

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Research Methods II: Design and Analysis

Unit code PSYC69802
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Division of Psychology and Mental Health
Available as a free choice unit? No


The first half of this unit focuses on qualitative methodologies. In these sessions, students will gain practical experience of the most commonly used techniques for analysing qualitative data in psychology (Thematic Analysis and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA)).

In the second half of the unit, students will gain an understanding of a selection of advanced statistical techniques, including non-parametric statsistics; mediation and moderation analyses, ANCOVA and regression.


The unit aims to:

  • ensure that students have knowledge of the main epistemological approaches to qualitative research;
  • provide hands-on experience of qualitative data analysis, both guided and independently on two of the main forms of analysis conducted in health psychology;
  • provide students with the knowledge to independently decide which form of qualitative analysis is needed for a research question and ensure that they can justify their choice, epistemological position and review limitations and strengths of their approach;
  • ensure that student are able to report qualitative data;
  • ensure that students have an understanding of selected advanced statistical techniques;
  • Ensure students can conduct a range of statistical tests using appropriate software;
  • Ensure that students can interpret the ‘output’ of advance statistical analysis;
  • Ensure that students understand the limitations of quantitative and qualitative techniques.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course unit, students will be able to:

  • understand the concepts underlying quantitative and qualitative methods;
  • understand the scope of different data analysis techniques;
  • critically evaluate the scope of different analysis techniques;
  • identify which techniques are appropriate to address different types of research question;
  • gain experience of carrying out qualitative analysis;
  • correctly interpret output from advanced statistical analysis and be able to report findings appropriately;
  • gain understanding of qualitative and quantitative approaches which will be applicable to understanding and appraising research.


Teaching and learning methods

The first part of the course (focusing on qualitative research) will be delivered in 4 x 2.5 hour sessions; two sessions for each qualitative method. Students will be working on analysing data in all sessions with the pattern being that the first session will be largely a lecture, with the teacher demonstrating an analysis, followed by assisting the class to work on an analysis and some time for individual work on analyses. The second session will recap and extend learning, with more time provided for working on a larger analysis with the teacher providing guidance on a one-to-one or one-to-group basis. In these sessions researchers currently using these technique will also be in attendance to provide guidance.   The second part of the course (advanced statistical techniques) will be delivered in 5 x 2 or 2.5 hour sessions.  The unit will be taught using traditional lecture formats, interactive data handling sessions and small group discussions. To assist in preparation for the sessions, students will be provided with electronic resources on Blackboard including Powerpoint slides, key papers, web links and discussion facilities. 

Assessment methods

Analysis of qualitative data using either IPA or thematic analysis (2,000 words, 50%).

Data analysis assignment in which students will be given a database and asked to conduct appropriate analyses and report their findings (2,000 words excluding tables and figures, 50%)

Recommended reading

Each lecture will have a detailed reading list. In addition to this, students will be encouraged to read the following as preparation to the course.

  • Greenhalgh T. (1997) How to read a paper: papers that summarise other papers (systematic reviews and meta-analyses). BMJ, 315, 672-5.
  • Guest, G. (2012) Applied thematic analysis. Sage: London.
  • Smith, J.A., Flowers, P., Larkin, M. (2009) Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis: Theory, methods and research. London: Sage.
  • Field, A. (2009). Discovering statistics usinf SPSS (Fourth ed.) Sage. London.
  • Hayes, A. F. (2009). Beyond Baron and Kenny: Statistical Mediation Analysis in the New Millennium. Communication Monographs, 76(4), 408-420.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 128

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Fiona Ulph Unit coordinator

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