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School of Psychology

Research Students’ (+3) Training Handbook


Dr Shaaron Ainsworth                              SEE PAGE 15 FOR DEADLINES
Dr Lee Hogarth                                    FOR
                                                  ALL FULL-TIME STUDENTS
Directors of Postgraduate Research Training

Charlotte Langham (UG and PG Programme Manager)
School of Psychology
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham NG7 2RD

Phone:      0115 951 5218
Fax:        0115 951 5324


Research Programme aims and objectives        3
Research Training structure and modules       5
Supervision sessions                          9
Annual assessment                             10
Financial support                             11
Experiment Management System                  12
Postgraduate Committee                        14
Key Dates and Deadlines                       15
Who’s Who in the School of Psychology         16
Example supervision form                      16

The PhD Training Programme

Aims and overview

The main objectives of the research training programme are to:
   enable you to plan, conduct and disseminate results of leading-edge research in
   provide breadth of understanding of a range of research methods and approaches
    relevant to the psychological sciences;
   provide you with the ability to locate your research within the broader context, both
    scientifically and in terms of applications;
   foster the development of transferable skills that will enable you to seek employment
    in other sectors (e.g., public sector, commerce and industry) as well as academia.

At the end of the course you should be able to:
   understand and apply the basic principles of research design and strategy, formulate
    tractable research problems and critically evaluate alternative approaches to research
    in psychology;
   understand and apply a range of psychological research methods, tools and
    techniques both for data acquisition and analysis;
   manage the research process effectively, including managing data, conducting and
    disseminating research in accordance with the BPS code of conduct for ethics and
    professional practice;
   understand the epistemological frameworks underpinning a range of approaches to
    psychological research and their implications for theory building, research design and
    selection of analytical techniques.

We expect you to complete your research within the equivalent of three years full-time
study. Our programme includes mandatory formal annual assessments to make three-year
completion the norm rather than the exception. These procedures for monitoring your
progress are backed up by the University’s mandatory Quality Manual, which has a section
devoted to quality assurance policy and procedures for postgraduate research students
(Section 4). A copy of the Quality Manual is available from the Web at

During your first year you will receive training in the general and subject-specific skills,
particularly methodological expertise that you need to pursue your research programme and
to present the results of your research in different forums. We expect you to launch your
research programme with at least a pilot study completed by the summer of your first year.

First year students are also required to attend a core programme of formal training, which is
assessed. This includes lectures, seminars and workshops to give all students a base of
generic research and presentation skills (see below). You should also discuss with your
supervisor whether and how you should supplement this core training with further specialist
training. There is also a School seminar series, which comprises a seminar each week
(Wednesdays 4pm-5pm) during term time. During this series visiting researchers provide
exposure to research spanning the interests of the School. Attendance at these seminars is
mandatory and you will be asked to sign a register. The Internal seminar series is on
Tuesdays at 1pm – again please attend in your first two years as you will be presenting at
this is in your third year.

Towards the end of the first year you will be required to present a poster in a one day
workshop. The aim is to give students an opportunity to showcase their research work in a
concise visual format presenting both theory and where possible results of pilot work. This
provides an ideal opportunity for informative and informal feedback prior to submitting your
annual report (see below). Precise guidelines concerning the format and nature of the poster
session will be provided nearer the time

At the end of the first year you will be required to write a 10,000-word (maximum) report
which will typically review the literature, describe your methods and present the results of
any pilot studies. Its most important function is to set out your research programme for the
future. You will have a viva-voce with a panel chaired by an assessor from outside your
immediate research group in order to assess your progress and training. You will also
present a research paper at the postgraduate conference at the end of the year. If progress
is satisfactory, i.e. if you have completed and passed the training requirements and
convinced the panel that you are on track for completion within three years, you will be
transferred from MPhil and registered for the degree of PhD.

At the end of the second year you will submit another annual report of 10,000 (maximum)
words describing your research to date and including a plan for completing your research
project within the third year (or equivalent for part-time students). You may choose to write
it like a journal paper (plus plan) if you like. You will have another viva voce examination at

which you will get feedback on your plans for completion. During the second year, you will
also present a paper at the internal seminar series.

At the end of the third year you must have completed at least a complete first draft of your
thesis and have handed it in to your supervisor for feedback. The recommended time to
allow for writing up is six months. This means that you should start on the write-up around
April of your final year.

Each year you will have a minimum of ten documented meetings with your supervisor, who
will help you to assess your progress and your training needs. He or she will help to arrange
courses or specialist training to ensure that your training needs are met. All students must
keep track of their training on individual training records (PTRs), which will be monitored
every year as part of the progression exercise. You should manage the recording of your
formal supervision meetings with your supervisor.

The research training programme: structure

The training programme is designed to provide you with a comprehensive induction into the
research environment within the first month of the session. This occurs at University level,
at School level and at the level of individual research groups. Within the first month you
must discuss and agree your training programme with your supervisor and the Director of
Research Training. You must also register for the required Graduate School workshops (see
the module C8DRPD below). The research programme aims to provide you with skills and
knowledge relating to your PhD topic, a future academic career.

You will then undergo training over the Autumn and Spring semesters by taking the
following modules:

Research and Personal Development Skills (C8DRPD) 20 Credits

Students attend workshops provided by the Graduate School, according to their needs as
agreed with their supervisor. Each workshop has a number of credits associated with it and
you may choose any combinations up to a minimum of 20 credits over the Autumn and
Spring semesters. For balance it is preferable to split the 20 credits across the two
semesters, but it is not essential that you do so. Topics cover: bibliographic and computing
skills; ethical and legal issues; exploitation of research and intellectual property rights;
written, oral and media communication skills; personal and career development; research
management and team-working, but the list of topics is extensive. On completion, students

should be able to: use effectively a range of bibliographic and information technology;
communicate research clearly and effectively in a wide variety of contexts; effectively
manage their own personal development and career progression.


Construct a Graduate School Training portfolio. This should include a table listing courses
attended, credits received and a reflection upon your learning outcomes. This should be
done for all modules attended , not just Graduate School courses (allowing you to indicate
additional non-compulsory training you may also have done).

For example

Course                           Credit                       Outcome

Introduction to library skills   1                            Learnt how to use web of
[GSTL28]                                                      science. The alerting function is
                                                              particularly useful.

At the end of the document, please add a general reflection on the value of the training to
you personally and suggestions for any further training you feel would be helpful.

This information is needed for your progression viva in August so please ensure it is
submitted by the 30th of June (although you may wish to submit it earlier with your
progression report). If you have not completed all the graduate school courses by that date,
please indicate the dates you will be doing the course in the outcome column.

You may register for the relevant Graduate School workshops online, by visiting the website

Assessment for the module is via completion of the Graduate School Training portfolio.
Deadline for completion is 30th June 2010.

Module convenor: Dr Shaaron Ainsworth

Timetable: Check with Graduate School.

Research Training Programme Workshops “Training Credits”
Psychological Research in Context (C8DPRC) 20 Credits

This ten-week seminar based module allows students to examine current issues and
methods in a chosen domain including cognitive neuroscience, health, educational, clinical,
social, developmental and cognitive psychology. It enables them to appraise critically
epistemological frameworks and assumptions concerning the appropriateness of the
methods used. On completion, students should be able to define and critically discuss
domain-specific research and methodological issues and illustrate this with reference to
specific research questions.

Assessment is via one 4000-5000 word dissertation on research methods and issues in the
selected area, and a presentation evaluating these methods and issues. Deadline for
completion is 11th December 2009 (TBC).

Module convenor: Dr Lee Hogarth / Dr Nigel Hunt

Timetable: Tuesdays Semester 1 (place and time information available from tutors)

Advanced Research Methods II (C8DAMS) 10 Credits
This ten-week workshop based module covers a range of advanced or specialised
techniques of data collection, organisation and analysis (e.g. eye tracking, video and
observational techniques, neuroimaging, computational modelling) and specialised data
gathering and analyses programs (e.g. E-prime, Matlab). On completion, students should
have an understanding of the use of a range of specialised data collection techniques,
some more advanced statistical procedures and specialised methods for analysing data.
Assessment is via two 2000-word reports based on two advanced techniques. Deadline
for completion of the two reports is 5thMay 2010.
Module convenor: Dr Walter van Heuven
Timetable: Wednesdays 14.00 – 15.00, room B37 (School of Psychology), starting 27th
January 2010

Analytical Research Methods (C84RAM) 10 Credits

Analytical Research Methods (C84RAM) 10 Credits This module builds on previous research
methods modules and provides students with an introduction to a range of advanced
research methods, including advanced experimental and multivariate techniques, and newer
methods such as internet research. The focus will be on members of staff discussing the key
methods used in their own research.

Assessment is 2 x 1,500 word reports (dates to be confirmed)

Module convenor: Ms Fiona Gavin

Timetable: Wednesdays 9:00-13.00 (for weeks 19-28 and 33-34 only) room JC-exchange
room C3

It may be possible to substitute this module with C84ANM. More details of this option will be
made available during the autumn term and you can discuss this option with Shaaron
Ainsworth and your supervisor.

The School’s postgraduate conference will be held on 9th December, attendance at which is
compulsory for all research students. The conference is an opportunity to meet all the other
research students, learn about the school’s facilities, and discover what range of research is
going on in the school. All other training begins from the 24th of September,
according to the timetable above. You must register for the Graduate School courses
during the first two weeks of the session. You should also arrange your first supervision
meeting at about this time.

First Supervision, review supervisions

In your first supervision you need to discuss your specific training and choose an
appropriate mix of optional training to supplement the overall course for the year if
necessary. There are four aspects to this.

1. Establish your likely needs:-
      What special techniques will you need to learn to plan and carry out your
      What new techniques will you need to analyse the data you expect to collect?
      Are there any new developments in the area that you should be aware of?
2. Establish how these needs are to be met:-
      Which departmental modules should you attend?
      Which Graduate School courses will you attend?
      Are there any other modules - in this department or in any other department -
       that you should attend?
      Are there any specialist training courses outside Nottingham that you should
      What training will your supervisor give you?
3. Agree the nature and style of your supervision meetings including:-
      How often will you meet your supervisor?
      Who will lead the discussions?
      How much and what sort of written work and assignments will you do?
      After your first supervision you should review your training needs at least once a
       year, ideally at the beginning of October.
4. Agree the nature of your work pattern. Does your supervisor have a particular
preference for your working hours and view of annual leave? There are no fixed
approaches (apart from any that may be related to your funding body’s requirements, so
please check these), but the nature of the programme of research you are embarking on
may have time implications. You and your supervisor both need to be in agreement about
how you can best spend your time.

You are responsible for recording all your training courses, workshops and supervisions
(including the time you spend reading and preparing assignments for them) on your
personal development record (PDR). A minimum of ten supervision meetings per year
should also be documented. Reports on these supervision meetings should be copied to the
Charlotte Langham, UG and PG Programme Manager.

Annual assessment and monitoring of progress

At the end of the first year and at the end of the second year, you are expected to submit a
10,000 word report. The nature of this report will differ depending on which stage of your
research you have reached, and this work will form part of your annual review of progress.

The first annual review will normally take place within a year of your first being
registered. You will submit a report describing the background to your research project. The
details of what is expected will vary depending on the exact research project but a normal
expectation is that in the report you will be able to review the relevant literature and
research methods, describe some pilot experiments or exploratory data gathering and
specify in some detail the programme of research for the second year. You then will have an
interview with a committee of three academic members of staff. Two of these will usually be
your two supervisors and the third person will act as an internal assessor. The internal
assessor usually chairs the viva voce and is normally a member of the School who is not
associated directly with your research. The aim of the assessment is to check that you are
on course for completing a PhD within three years. The viva voce will be an opportunity for
you to answer detailed questions about your research and its background and will provide
experience of some of the techniques that you will eventually need to deploy in your final
viva voce examination.

During the session the panel will also discuss whether your progress is satisfactory, in which
case the review panel will recommend that you progress from MPhil registration (all
postgraduate research students initially register for an MPhil degree) to PhD registration. If
progress is unsatisfactory the panel will set a date for a reassessment, usually within six
months, and specify the conditions that you must meet in order to progress to PhD
registration at the next review. The panel will write a joint report, commenting on your
performance and recommending how you be registered for the next year, and whether that
recommendation is to be reviewed during the year.

At the end of your second year, a very similar procedure is followed. You will submit a
second report (again, at maximum of 10,000 words in length) detailing the literature and
theoretical basis for your research, and report the studies you have conducted to date. This
can take the form of a journal paper. The report should therefore contain a large proportion
of the work that will appear in the final thesis. The report will also detail the planned work
for the final year of study. Again, a viva voce will be held, usually with the same members
of staff (supervisors and internal assessor), and you will asked detailed questions about the
work you have conducted to date. At the end of the viva voce, the panel members will make

recommendations based on the report and viva voce performance. Students who are already
registered for a PhD can, if their performance is below the expected level, be downgraded to
M.Phil registration. In such cases, a second review is usually set within six months to assess

The annual reviews are not just monitoring exercises, they are an important part of the
training. The style of examination prepares you for the final assessment of your thesis in a
viva voce examination. The reports should contain material, which if it is well written, could
end up in your final thesis.

Financial support

All full-time postgraduate research students are given an account from which they can
spend £500 each academic year. This grant can be used for conference fees, travel and
accommodation, equipment, subject payments etc. All spends need to be agreed by your
supervisor and all purchases must be carried out through the Finance Manager – Deborah
Cartledge (see Who’s Who section for details). This grant (in total or part) cannot be saved
from one year to the next. If more funds are required a case for this support must be made
to the School’s Space and Resources Committee.

Experiment Management System

This web-based system is used to manage recruitment and participation in the various
experimental studies that take place in the School of Psychology. It is the main forum for
the advertisement of current studies, and enables participants to sign-up for particular
timeslots. Studies are mainly advertised by researchers in the School, although students
may also use the system to recruit participants for their third year research project (see
details on the Research Participation Scheme).

The system can be accessed from any web-enabled computer, either directly at or through the School of Psychology website.
Researchers can use the system on approval of their PI or supervisor and the Research
Participation Scheme administrator. It will then be possible to create a study on the system,
detailing general aspects of the study such as the nature of the experiment and any
prerequisites for participation. It will also be stated whether participation is in exchange for
points (as part of the Research Participation Scheme) or an inconvenience allowance
(monetary reimbursement). Studies can also offer a choice between the two forms of
reimbursement. The system also enables researchers to specify specific timeslots for testing.

When participants login to the system they are presented with the list of active studies. By
selecting one of those studies participants can then read the details and select a suitable
timeslot. When a timeslot has been reserved by a participant, both the participant and the
researcher will be sent a confirmatory email by the system. It is also possible to configure
your account to send a reminder email on the day of testing. Most testing will take place in
a laboratory, the location of which should be specified in the study details. However, some
studies may also be web-based, for which participants complete an online survey.
Depending on the study, the inconvenience allowance or points will be distributed on
completion of the experiment. For additional information on using the system, please refer
to the ‘Instructions for Researchers’ documentation, which can be accessed via the School

Research Participation Scheme

This scheme enables students in their third year to make use of the Experiment
Management System in order to recruit participants for their third year research project.
Students become eligible to use the scheme by earning a requisite number of points, which
are rewarded in return for participation in studies.

The distribution of participation points is via the Experiment Management System, which is
used to advertise current studies and manage appointments. Individuals participate in
exchange for either points or an inconvenience allowance (monetary reimbursement). The
number of points earned is proportional to the length of the experiment itself, where 1 point
is awarded for an experiment lasting up to an hour, 0.5 points for an experiment lasting up
to half an hour, and 0.25 points for an experiment lasting up to a quarter of an hour. The
timing is rounded up in favour of the participant (i.e. if an experiment lasts 50 minutes then
the participant receives 1 point).

In order to be able to use the scheme to recruit participants students will need to earn 30
points from the system. In exchange, they will receive an equivalent of 20 points (or more
on request, depending on availability) that is to be used as participant reimbursement for
their own experiments. It is recommended that students aim to accrue 10 points per year
but they can, in principle, spread the 30 points as they wish over 3 years. The web-based
system allows participants to monitor how many points they have earned throughout the
year. Having accrued 30 points, students must apply to use the system using the
documents available on the School website. Studies will then be made active on the
approval of the project supervisor, the Research Participation Scheme administrator, and
(when necessary) the School of Psychology Ethics Committee. Students may then utilise the
system to advertise and recruit participants of their own, and award points for that

School’s Postgraduate Committee

All postgraduate affairs are co-ordinated and managed by the Postgraduate Committee. This
committee comprises the following individuals.

Head of School              Prof David Clarke

Postgraduate Administration Charlotte Langham

Postgraduate Advisor (Chair) Dr Peter Chapman    Admissions, progression
                                                 and submissions

Director of                 Dr Shaaron           Postgraduate training, MSc
Postgraduate Research       Ainsworth            PRM
Deputy Director of          Dr Lee Hogarth       Postgraduate training, MSc
Postgraduate Research                            PRM
                            Dr Walter Van        Recruitment and
                            Heuven               administers postgraduate
                            Dr Lucy Cragg        Recruitment and
                                                 international PGR liaison

Key dates and deadlines in the PhD Training Programme

Date                        Event                 Action               Who
September    23th           Induction event       Attend               Yr1 PhD
             29th           C8DPRC begins         Attend               Yr1 PhD/
October      By end of      Supervision to review Document to CRL      Year 1 PhD
             first week     training needs.

December     9th            PostGrad Conference   Attend/Present       All

             11th(TBC)      C8DPRC deadline       Document to CRL      Year 1 PhD

January      25th           Semester 2 training   Sign up for Grad     Yr1 PhD
                            starts                School courses.

             27th           C84RAM begins         Attend               Yr1 PhD
             27th           C8DAMS begins         Attend               Yr1 PhD
February     9th            Deadline C8DPRC       Hand to CRL          Yr1 PhD
May          5        May   C8DAMS assessment     Hand to CRL          Yr1 PhD

             12th           Poster Day            Attend/Present       All

             1st            Submit annual report Hand 3 copies to      Years 1 & 2
                                                 CRL                   PhD

August       tbc            Progression viva      Examine progress     Years 1 & 2
                                                  & training; agree
                                                  progression status


Head Of School                Prof David Clarke
Head Of School’s PA           Viv Kirk                   A point of contact for Head
                                                         of School
Finance Manager               Deborah Cartledge          Finance, purchasing and expenses,
(Research Office)                                        grants
Postgraduate Student          Dr Peter Chapman           Responsible for admissions,
Advisor                                                  progression and administration of
                                                         research students
Deputy Postgraduate           Dr Walter van Heuven       as above
Student Advisor
Director Of Postgraduate      Dr Shaaron Ainsworth       Responsible for research training
Research Training
Deputy Director Of            Dr Lee Hogarth             Responsible for research training
Postgraduate Research
Director Of Administration    Victor Cipko               Head of admin teams.
Postgraduate Psychology       Charlotte Langham          Research students
(School office)                                          Ed Psyc, D.App.Psych. Diploma in
                              Martin Lockey              Psychology (Conversion Course),
                                                         MSc in Cogniitve Neuroscience and
Computing Staff               Chris Chew                 IT manager (Macs)
                              Lee Melton                 PCs
                              Alexia Melling
                              Stephnee Lindberg
Chair Computing               Dr Tim Ledgeway
Technical Manager             Andy Smith                 Mechanical equipment, audio
                                                         and video facilities
Undergraduate Psychology      Charlotte Langham          Undergraduate School
Admin                                                    Administrator
(School Office)
Disability Liaison            Andy Smith
Health And Safety, Security   Andy Smith
Ethics Committee              Victor Cipko (chair)       All research projects must have
                              Helen Falconer (admin)     approval by the Ethics
                                                         Committee. Proposals should
                                                         be passed to Helen Falconer,
                                                         Research Support Office.

PGRs = PostGraduate Research students i.e. MPhil, PhD;
PGTs = PostGraduate Taught students i.e. MA, MSc, Dip Psyc.
Important telephone numbers
Departmental Fax (based in School Office) 0115 951 5324 (external), 15324 (internal).
University telephone switchboard is 0115 951 5151, or 0 for internal.
School Office Telephone is 0115 951 5361, or 15361 for internal.
In the case of emergency you should dial 8888 from any internal phone.

                                UNIVERSITY OF NOTTINGHAM

                                   SCHOOL OF PSYCHOLOGY

                                MPhil/PhD Supervision Record
(A minimum number of formal meetings between research students and their supervisors is
stipulated by the University's Regulations: at least 10 times pa for full-time students and at
least 6 times pa for part-time students. For each of these sessions a Supervision Record
must be completed.

Name of student:
School:                                                Date of supervisory meeting
Mode of study (FT/PT):                                 Current Registration (PhD/MPhil)
Title of project:
Principal supervisor (name/School/Division):
Additional supervisors
Supervisor(s) comments: (include an agreed plan for the next research period)

Signed:                                        (Supervisor) Date:
Student's comments:

Signed:                                        (Student)       Date: