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The MA in Research Methods (Developmental Psychology) is designed for students who plan to continue their graduate studies at PhD level in an area of developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, or social psychology. It is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as providing suitable training for this purpose, and the course is one of the named routes on the MA in Research Methods. It is a Social Sciences faculty degree that involves other departments within the University.
Students intending to have a career as a research psychologist need to acquire a high level of research skills at postgraduate level. Research methods training therefore forms a central part of the MA programme, including both quantitative and qualitative research methods. One third of the course is also devoted to the dissertation which may be carried out in any area of psychology related to development. The taught course modules include both generic and subject level components, providing an introduction to broad issues and methodological approaches in developmental psychology and the social sciences.
Teaching is generally organised into a number of 10 week course units involving 2 to 3 hours of lectures, seminars and workshops. Each 10 week unit is assessed by means of formative and summative assessments. The summative assessments count towards the final degree outcome. For the programme as a whole, the assessments include examinations, written assignments, oral presentations and the dissertation.
The programme is delivered through a mixture of lectures, seminars and practical classes. Lectures provide key information on a particular topic, such as social and emotional development. Seminars are held in order that smaller group teaching can take place, with focused discussion on specific topics. Finally, practical and workshop classes allow students to gain direct experience, particularly in Applied Statistics and in how to use statistical tools.
The balance of this type of activity varies as a function of the module. This is a one year course, with students having the summer term to work on dissertation related activities. Students typically attend approximately 12 hours a week comprising lectures, tutorials and seminars. Outside timetabled contact hours, students are also expected to undertake their own independent study to prepare for their classes and broaden their subject knowledge, as well as conduct their dissertation. Independent study is a key element to the course, with complex factors raised in lectures that do assume some prior knowledge of the topic area.
The programme is divided into three parts. One third, comprising three modules, is of subject specific topics related to developmental psychology and developmental psychopathology, including issues relevant to clinical work throughout development. Across these modules the material is delivered via a combination of lectures, seminars, practical workshops and discussions. A further three modules focus on placing psychology in the larger framework of social science research and providing generic research skills. For example, skills such as qualitative and quantitative methodologies. The final third of the programme is the dissertation module, which reflects the culmination of learning and practical endeavours from throughout the course via the production of an independent and original body of research material. This is performed under supervision with a member of staff, with meetings varying in duration and frequency throughout the year as a function of the needs of the research project and student.
Visit the Research Methods (Developmental Psychology) - MA page on the Durham University website for more details!