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Study information

Cognition Practical I

Module titleCognition Practical I
Module codePSY2209
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Heike Elchlepp (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module gives you experience of actually doing research in experimental cognitive psychology. In groups of five-six you will: come up with a research question to ask (under a heading such as “response inhibition”); devise a novel experiment to answer it; design, programme and run the experiment; analyse the data; and report on the research in a short presentation and a written report. This experience develops not only the skills you need for your third year project, but also a much better understanding of the process that creates the evidence you read about in papers and books.

A pre-requisite of this module is completion of PSY1205 Introduction to Statistics, PSY1206 Introduction to Research Methods and PSY1207 Cognition, Emotion, and Development.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module will provide training in research methodology in human experimental psychology, especially the psychology of cognition. The module aims to provide you with a critical understanding of the design and conduct of empirical research and data analysis by requiring groups of students, following training, to go through the full process of designing, running, analysing and reporting a novel experiment. With the help of a supervisor and tutorial sessions on designing and implementing an experiment and how to analyse the data from it, each group of students develops an experiment that addresses a theoretical question of their own choice under one of three broad topic headings, with guidance from a supervisor with appropriate expertise in the research topic. For this reason, the specific research topics available vary from year to year depending on the expertise of the available staff.

As well as what it teaches about how psychological science generates the evidence that you read and hear about, the practical develops key skills for the world of employment: working effectively in a group, rapidly exploring the literature in a domain of research and come up with new ideas, implementing a project with computational and statistical resources, and presenting the research effectively.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe critically experimental design, conduct of research and data analysis in human experimental psychology (including principles that generalise to other areas of research)
  • 2. Put these principles into practical effect through the design, implementation, running, and analysis of one experiment
  • 3. Report experimental research, building on Stage 1 skills
  • 4. Explain one current area of cognitive research
  • 5. Give examples of computational resources for stimulus preparation, experimental control and data analysis

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Illustrate detailed factual and conceptual knowledge of the subject and identify a variety of ideas, contexts and frameworks
  • 7. Review and critically evaluate published work and identify the strengths and weaknesses of this work, and at a well-developed level structure this literature to present logical and coherent arguments
  • 8. Apply essential principles in designing research and critically evaluate and analyse empirical evidence and assess its reliability using appropriate statistical techniques taught in Stage 1 and in the Stage 2 statistics module
  • 9. Report research in Psychology using standard journal format

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 10. Solve complex problems systematically, think critically and creatively
  • 11. Manage and select information and data from a range of sources and develop appropriate information finding strategies
  • 12. Interact effectively within a learning group, giving and receiving information and ideas and modifying responses where appropriate and cooperating in the service of group goals
  • 13. Take responsibility for your own learning with minimum direction and to seek and make use of feedback
  • 14. Manage time effectively to meet deadlines
  • 15. Communicate effectively in writing

Syllabus plan

The term begins with three classes that (i) provide some background to the various research topics available for investigation, and (ii) use a sample experiment to illustrate principles of experimental design, and to provide a tutorial on the software used to run experiments and the data analysis tools available. In parallel, over those first three weeks, each group of students also explores the literature on their topic and devises a specific experiment under the heading of one of three broad research topics, with guidance from their supervisor. Each group submits a research proposal, receives feedback from the supervisor, and then implements and runs their agreed experiment and analyses the data, working independently but with advice and assistance available on a regular basis. In the last week of the term, students learn how to present their methods and data in the style of a journal article.In total, there will be eleven sessions during which you will design, analyse, and write-up  an empirical study associated with the module. 

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Practical classes (11 x 2 hours)
Guided Independent Study128Private study and group work: reading the literature, group work to write research proposal, design and program the experiment, analyse the data and prepare presentation; meetings with supervisor in office hours; individual writing of project reports

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Methods evaluation and project proposal1500 words1-2, 4, 6-8, 10-15Written and discussion

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Practical report1003000 words1-15Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Practical reportPractical report (100%)1-15August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

When you have been referred/deferred in the practical report you will be required to resubmit the report. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%; deferred marks are not capped.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative basic reading list:

Most of the reading will be from the primary literature relevant to the particular research topic addressed.An introduction and reading list for each topics will be will be provided on ELE.

The following may be useful on experimental design and how to read and write research reports:

  • Kantowitz, B.H., Roediger, Henry L. III, Elmes, D.G. (2015, 10th Ed) Experimental Psychology. Chs 3 (Research Techniques: Experiments), 5 (How to Read and Write Research Reports) and 8 (Attention and Reaction Times). Wadsworth/Cengage Learning
  • Sternberg R.J. (2016) The Psychologist’s Companion: A guide to scientific writing for students and researchers. Cambridge UP. Chs. 3-7

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

ELE page -

A “how-to” manual will become available cumulatively on ELE during the tutorial classes, and various resources for the conduct of the experiments and data analysis will be made available on ELE.

Key words search

Cognitive psychology, research, experiment, learning and memory, practical

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

PSY1207 Cognition, Emotion, and Development, PSY1205 Introduction to Statistics and PSY1206 Introduction to Research Methods or equivalent

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date