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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Psychology

Undergraduate Course: Critical Analysis (PSYL10102)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe general aims of the course are:
- To facilitate critical reading and analysis of psychological research reports
- To show how design principles and statistics are applied in psychological research and how research is actually done
- To encourage careful, deep consideration the value of published research studies
Course description The course's aims will be achieved principally via tutorials with groups of approximately 10 students, plus one lecture at the beginning of each semester.
The semester 1 lecture will provide students with a basic framework for how to approach a research paper. The semester 2 lecture will focus on how to evaluate the value of the research a paper reports, building on the skills developed in semester 1.
The tutorials in each semester will apply the ideas presented in the lecture. Each tutorial session will be devoted to discussing a single research paper, which will be distributed to all students in advance of the session. The tutor will provide discussion points, which will draw on the aims and learning outcomes of the course in a manner which is appropriate for the paper under discussion and the stage of the course (i.e. questions will be more generic towards the start of the course and more specific and focused as students gain in analytic skills). The papers will be drawn from the 3rd year lecture courses taking place concurrently with the tutorial sessions and were suggested by academic staff teaching those courses.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Psychology 2A (PSYL08011) AND Psychology 2B (PSYL08012)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Research Methods and Statistics (PPLS08001) is recommended.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  80
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 98 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Within-tutorial MCQs (20%; short quiz at the beginning of each of the 12 tutorials; students must complete at least 10 of these, worth 2% each - the best 10 quizzes will count towards the final mark.)

Short critique of a paper, end of S1, 1000 words 25%

Take-home exam (critique of a previously unseen paper, time to return 4 days.) end of S2, 2000 words, 55%
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
- Review research articles comprehensively and critically
- Understand the rationale, logic and purpose of a research project
- Identify any hypotheses stated
- Describe and assess the suitability of the methods adopted
- Assess the soundness of the experimental designs used
- Assess the suitability of the statistical treatment of the results
- Assess the interpretation of the results and the adequacy of the statistical inferences drawn
- Evaluate a paper┐s discussion section
- Decide whether the conclusions reached are justified
- Judge whether a contribution to psychological knowledge has been made
- Propose solutions to the shortcomings of published research
- Identify alternative ways of answering the research question(s)
- Suggest, and potentially design, further research studies to follow up the findings of a published research paper
Reading List
An appropriate research paper will be distributed before each tutorial; these will be linked to the content of the lecture courses being taken by the students. These are examples of the level we would aim for: accessible papers that, while being good examples of competent research, also contain quite a bit one can criticise.

Simons, D.J., & Chabris, C.F. (1999). Gorillas in our midst: Sustained inattentional blindness for dynamic events. Perception, 28, 1059-1074.

Lewis, M. (1992). When does a self (or selves) emerge? Psych-critiques, 37, (11), 1161-1163.

Riby, D.M. & Hancock, P.J.B. (2009). Looking at movies and cartoons: Eye-tracking evidence from Williams syndrome and autism. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 53, 169-181.

Luo L., & Craik F.I.M. (2008). Aging and memory: a cognitive approach. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 53(6):346-53.

Condor, S., Figgou, L., Abell, J., Gibson, S., & Stevenson, C. (2006). They're not racist ┐ Prejudice denial, mitigation and suppression in dialogue. British Journal of Social Psychology, 45, 441-462.

At a different level, the course design will be directly influenced by the following paper:

Barber, P. (2003). Critical analysis of psychological research II: delivering a course for inclusion in the core curriculum for psychology. Psychology Learning and Teaching 3, 15-26.
This describes the original implementation of this course at Birkbeck.

In designing specific content, I will also make use of the following list of sources (which will be given as general resources to the students):

Meltzoff, J. (1998). Critical Thinking About Research: Psychology And Related Fields. Washington: American Psychological Association.

Girden, E. (2001). Evaluating Research Articles From Start To Finish. California: Sage Publications.

Solso, R.L. & Maclin, M.K. (2007). Experimental Psychology: A Case Approach (8th Edition). Boston: Allyn And Bacon.

Elmes, D.G., Kantowitz, B.H. & Roediger, H.L. (2003). Research Methods In Psychology (7th Edition).Belmont, Ca: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

Kantowitz, B.H., Roediger, H.L. & Elmes, D.G. (2005). Experimental Psychology: Understanding Psychological Research (8th Edition). Belmont, Ca: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

Smith, J.A., Flowers, P. & Larkin, M. (2009). Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Theory, Method And Research. London: Sage.

Smith, J.A. & Eatough, V. (2007). Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. In: Lyons, E. & Coyle, A. Analysing Qualitative Data In Psychology. London: Sage, pp.35-50.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Thomas Bak
Tel: (0131 6)50 9861
Course secretaryMs Alexandra MacAndrew
Tel: (0131 6)51 3733
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