Module code: PSY3108

Module Overview

Current research paradigms suggest that psychological theories should lead research design and analytical method in order to find what we are looking for - understanding general psychological laws. As an example, we study how these paradigms shaped the way we do research and what is known about intimate relationships (e.g., stress-coping processes in intimate relationships). However, more and more evidence indicate that current research paradigms are limited, they ignore crucial aspects of psychological processes (e.g., nested data, processes occur with persons not between persons), and do not allow us to find general laws (e.g., Hamaker, 2012). Thus, we will critically reflect about crucial problems and what could be done to overcome them. We further look at one particular approach which can solve several of the current problems at once – multilevel modeling (ML). We will run ML models based on intensive longitudinal data (e.g., couples, patient-therapist) and test how ML enables us to ask novel and nuanced research questions in order to push our understanding of psychological processes further. Finally, we look at next generation research paradigms which will allow us to understand dynamical real-time processes.

This module may be especially suited to students who are interested in intimate relationships, clinical psychology, counselling, or couples therapy; or students who wish to pursue a career in therapy, research, statistics, and many other occupational contexts - as data analysis skills are highly desirable in graduate careers (e.g., marketing, actuary, business analytics, pharmaceuticals etc.).

Module provider


Module Leader

HILPERT Peter (Psychology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 128

Seminar Hours: 22

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

BSc Psychology Levels 4 and 5 or equivalent This module has a capped number and may not be available to ERASMUS and other international exchange students. Please check with the departmental exchange coordinator.

Module content

Indicative key topics will include:

  1. Scientific methods in general

  2. Past and present of psychological methods

  3. The impact of current research paradigms on couple research and findings from the last 80 years of research

  4. Critical reflection about psychological methods – and how this has limited of our understanding

  5. Multilevel modeling (ML) basics

  6. ML with R (or SPSS)

  7. ML in couple research and clinical psychology

  8. A playful way of running ML

  9. Data simulation, visualization, and interpretation

  10. The future of psychological methods – what could be understood?

  11. Discussion and integration


Some of these topics focus on research paradigms and others focus on a very useful method (ML), which helps to think differently about theoretical constructs and analyze data in a better way. The order and specificity of the topics above is flexible. 

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework ESSAY (6 PAGES) 30
Examination EXAMINATION (90 MINUTES) 70

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate each of the learning outcomes.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

Short Essay (6 pages, 30%)

Each student’s short essay will focus on a very specific topic (e.g., research paradigms, methods), summarize the main idea, why it is important, what we have learned from it, what are the limitations, and what could be done to overcome the limitations.

Examination (90 min, 70%)

The exam will involve answering several open questions and analysing some data.

Justification for Assessment Methods

Short essay will assess Learning Outcomes 1 and 2. The format reflects a common part of postgraduate and academic professional work.

.Examinations will assess Learning Outcomes 1 – 5.

Module aims

  • Discuss scientific methods in general
  • Discuss psychological methods specifically
  • Understanding the limitations of current research paradigm and its impact on psychology theory and progress
  • Highlight how multilevel modeling overcomes many problems (e.g., nested data) based on intensive longitudinal data (e.g., daily diary data)
  • Being able to run ML models independently, visualize and interpret results
  • Understand why and how modern methods allow us to push our theoretical understanding further
  • Being able to use this knowledge to design better studies and analyse own data

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Understand the impact of current and modern research paradigms on psychological research C
002 Critically reflect current research paradigms and discuss pros and cons of modern paradigms and methods KT
003 Have an insight into couple research and being able to apply specific aspect into their own lives KPT
004 Use multilevel modeling for their own analysis KP
005 Understanding the importance of time (i.e., psychological processes unfold as a function of time – but time can mean different things as indicating real-time processes, fluctuations over days, the long-term processes etc.) KC
006 Understanding the importance of next generation methods PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to engage students with learning about the state of the field as well as equipping them to contribute to the field themselves. Therefore, it includes a combination of lecture, student-led presentation, and discussion—both in class and virtual. 

The learning and teaching methods include:

Week 1-11: Lecture and group discussions (introducing research paradigms, novel methods, couple research, psychotherapy research, critical thinking)   

Week 11: Discussion (integration, revision, and exam preparation)

(all 2 hour sessions x 11 weeks)

Dedicated SurreyLearn page including space to discuss readings and the week’s critical questions.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: PSY3108

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2019/0 academic year.