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Module PLP-4026:
Adv Beh Res Methods & Proposal

Module Facts

Run by School of Psychology

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Emily Roberts-Tyler

Overall aims and purpose

This module aims to provide an understanding of experimental validity and its relationship to experimental design in behaviour analysis. It provides an overview of single-subject designs, group designs, data collection techniques and analysis, evaluation of research evidence and graphing data. The module will review common experimental designs used in applied behaviour analysis. Topics covered include types of experimental reasoning, general experimental control procedures, experimental validity and threats to internal validity, single-subject (small-N) research design (within-series design, between-series design, and combined series design), and analysis. The module will also cover data display and analysis.

Course content

This module will review common experimental design used in applied psychology research. Topics covered include types of experimental reasoning, general experimental control procedures, experimental validity and threats to validity, single subject research design (within-series design, between-series design and combined-series design), and research control procedures.

Assessment Criteria


Threshold 50 – 59%

• Some basic consideration of the applications of behaviourism in the real world. • Adequate knowledge of some of the key concepts in applied behaviour analysis only. • Weaknesses in understanding theoretical issues with multiple/major factual errors. • Limited evidence of critical analysis and evaluation of theory and research. • Arguments are presented briefly, but they are weak with no synthesis or original interpretation. • Answer only briefly focussed on question and with some irrelevant material and poor structure. • Weak presentation with disjointed structure and major APA format errors.


Good 60 - 69%

• Some insight into the applications of behaviourism in the real world. • Strong knowledge of key concepts in applied behaviour analysis. • Solid understanding of theoretical issues mostly free of factual errors. • Evidence of critical analysis and evaluation of theory and research. • Coherent arguments presented, with some limited synthesis and original interpretation • Answer focussed on question, but with very little irrelevant material and clear structure • Well-structured presentation showing focus of argument and expression.


Excellent 70% +

• Depth of insight into the applications of behaviourism in the real world. • Comprehensive and detailed knowledge of applied behaviour analysis. • Excellent understanding and original interpretation of theoretical issues with no factual errors. • Clear evidence of critical analysis and insightful evaluation of theory and research. • Logically presented and defended arguments presented with coherent synthesis and original interpretation. • Answer focussed on question, with no irrelevant material and clear structure. • Well-structured presentation showing focus and clarity of argument and expression.

Learning outcomes

    1. Evaluate experimental validity and threats to validity
    1. Identify the ethical issues involved in designing a research project.
    1. Display and analyse behavioural data.
    1. Identify and apply the features of various single-case experimental and group designs.
    1. Select appropriate experimental designs for different research questions.
    1. Critique research using the principles of empirically supported treatments.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Study design and ethics proposal 50
Exam 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Three interteaching seminar sessions across semester.


Three hours lectures per week for 12 weeks.

Private study 155

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Understand the scientific underpinnings of psychology as a discipline.
  • Apply multiple perspectives to psychological issues and integrate ideas and findings across the multiple perspectives in psychology.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in written form.
  • Be computer literate for the purpose of processing and disseminating psychological data and information.
  • Retrieve and organise information effectively.
  • Handle primary source material critically.
  • Use effectively personal planning and project management skills.
  • Work effectively under pressure (time pressure, limited resources, etc) as independent and pragmatic learners.
  • Problem-solve by clarifying questions, considering alternative solutions, making critical judgements, and evaluating outcomes.
  • Reason scientifically and demonstrate the relationship between theory and evidence.
  • Carry out empirical studies by operationalizing research questions, generating hypotheses, collecting data using a variety of methods, analysing data using quantitative and/or qualitative methods, and present and evaluate research findings (under appropriate supervision).
  • Comprehend and use psychological data effectively, demonstrating a systematic knowledge of the application and limitations of various research paradigms and techniques.
  • Employ evidence-based reasoning and examine practical, theoretical and ethical issues associated with the use of different methodologies, paradigms and methods of analysis in psychology.
  • Be aware of ethical principles and approval procedures.


Reading list

Core Text:

Cooper, J.O., Heron, T.E., & Heward, W.L. 2nd Ed. (2007) Applied Behavior Analysis. NY. MacMillan.

Johnston, J.M. & Pennypacker, H.S. (1993). Strategies and tactics of human behavioural research (2nd ed). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Recommended Reading:

Cook, T.D., and Campbell, D.T. (1979). Quasi-experimentation: Design & Analysis issues for field settings. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Kazdin, A.E. (1982). Single-case research designs: Methods for clinical and applied settings. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kazdin, A.E. (1998). Research design in clinical psychology. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bason.

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules