MASTER OF ARTS IN THE FIELD OF PSYCHOLOGY
BY COURSEWORK & RESEARCH REPORT AND BY
2011 APPLICATION BOOKLET
Thank you for considering a Master of Arts (MA) in the field of Psychology.
The discipline of Psychology offers two research M.A. degrees:
1. Master of Arts in the field of Psychology by coursework and research
2. Master of Arts in the field of Psychology by research
This booklet provides information on as well application procedures for a
challenging yet rewarding programme in the WITS School of Human and
A career in research offers a wide array of employment opportunities in the
academic, public and private sectors. With a focus on teaching advanced
research skills as well as content, students are well equipped to pursue a
research career. If followed by a one year internship at an accredited site,
students who complete the MA in Psychology (coursework and research
report) can also register with the Health Professions Council as a Research
The programme is now considering applicants for the 2011 intake. Please
note that the application deadline is 30 September 2010 (see section on
application procedures below).
Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact
me (contact details below) or any member of the research team
Dr Brendon Barnes (Course co-ordinator)
Masters of Arts in the field of Psychology by coursework and research
This degree is a well-established programme with a focus on developing practical
research expertise. The degree requires students to complete 3 coursework
modules, including a compulsory course in Multivariate Research Design and
Analysis, and a research report.
The M.A. in Psychology by Coursework and Research Report may be done as a full-
time or part-time degree. Students are expected to complete the degree in 1 year if
doing the course full-time, and in 2 years if doing the course part-time. The degree
equips students to be broad-based researchers, or as a basis for an academic
1. An Honours degree (or equivalent) in Psychology, achieved with a minimum pass
2. Favourable referees reports
LISTS OF COURSEWORK MODULES
A. COMPULSORY MODULE
PSYC7025 Multivariate Research Design and Analysis
B. ELECTIVE MODULES
PSYC7031 Gender in Psychology
PSYC7012 Freud and the Origins of Psychoanalysis
PSYC7014 Intellectual History of Psychology and the Human Sciences
PSYC7027 Qualitative Methods
PSYC7026 Programme Evaluation
PSYC7032 Research in Context
PSYC7033 Selected topic in Psychology
Alternatively, a course from another Masters programme in the Faculty of Humanities
might be substituted for ONE of the elective modules, with the permission of the
NOTE: Not all these modules will be offered every year, and a module may not be
offered if an insufficient number of students elect to take it.
Masters of Arts in the field of Psychology by research
This degree requires that the student completes a research dissertation. The student
works with a supervisor on a topic of their choice. This degree is usually selected by
students who enjoy working independently and wish to pursue their interest in a
particular topic. Students are expected to complete the degree within 2 years full-
time, or 4 years part-time.
1. An Honours degree (or equivalent) in Psychology, achieved with a minimum pass
2. The availability of a member of staff able to supervise the area of interest.
3. Favourable referee reports.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE COURSES
PSYC7025: Multivariate Research Design and Analysis.
Lecturers: Prof. Peter Fridjhon, Mr. Mike Greyling, Prof. Gillian Finchilescu and Dr.
The course consists of two components. The first takes place in lectures and
examines the critical evaluation of research articles. The aim of the course is to give
students the ability to dissect a typical article published n your domain of social
research and determine what useful knowledge can be gleaned from it. This is a
critical skill, both as regards the academic requirements of your other courses as well
as for evaluating the relevance of articles to your area of employment.
The course will examine key areas of research theory, e.g. Research Design,
Pychometrics and Statistical Analysis in the context of research articles. As much as
this theory is important the emphasis is on the application of the broad principles in
common sense ways to applied research. Ultimately you need to be able to assess
the value of an article by considering all of its elements.
The second component aims to provide a practical hands-on introduction to common
difficulties arising from data analysis. As such the course does not focus on
statistical procedures but on the processes which are necessary to make data
analysis possible. The course is taught as a combination of lectures and tutorials
using the SAS system with Enterprise Guide.
PSYC7026: Programme Evaluation
Lecturer: Prof. Charles Potter
Those conducting evaluative research need skills in evaluation design, as well as
expertise in quantitative, qualitative and multi-method research. The programme
evaluation course aims to provide skills in evaluation design, relative to different
types of social programmes.
The course is differentiated from the Honours course in the following way. It is
assumed that a student exiting the university at Honours level should be able to
contribute to a research team conducting an evaluation, operating as a research
assistant. A student exiting the university at Masters level should be able to design
evaluations suited to different forms of programmes or interventions, and lead a
This Masters course is thus taught with the aim of providing Masters students with in-
depth knowledge of programme evaluation theory and applications. The course has
a. Theory of Evaluation
b. Introduction to Evaluation Design.
The course will be taught through seminars and readings.
PSYC7027: Qualitative methods
Lecturers: Prof. Charles Potter and team
The aim of the course will be to introduce qualitative research as a field of inquiry in
its own right, which is surrounded by a complex interconnected family of terms,
concepts, and assumptions (Denzin and Lincoln, 1994). The course will be taught
from the assumption that the gathering and analysis of qualitative data is not only an
inevitable feature of professional practice, but also one of the competences
necessary to conduct research (Henwood, 1996). Other competences are based on
understanding of the conceptual bases of different forms of qualitative research.
The course will be taught over the third and fourth quarters of the year, and will focus
on developing understanding of links between ontology, epistemology and
methodology. Students will initially be introduced to empiricist views of qualitative
data, and to methods of description, classification and analysis of qualitative data
which relate to these types of assumptions about science. Issues will then be
introduced relating to the theories and assumptions which underpin different modes
of interpreting qualitative data.
As the course progresses, students will focus on constructivist views of science, and
on issues relating to the researcher‟s position and stance vis-a-vis the subjects of
the research. Critical frameworks for conducting qualitative research will also be
introduced, reflecting assumptions concerning the power relationships in society
which underpin how society functions and develops.
PSYC7031: Gender in Psychology
Lecturers: Dr. Gill Haiden and Ms. Peace Kiguwa
The Gender in Psychology module explores different explanatory paradigms
concerning the role of gender in society. These paradigms briefly, are the social
constructionist approach, that of psychoanalytic theory, and the perspectives of
social and developmental psychology. The course will also engage with a series of
close readings in selected topics.
The course will require a good deal of preparatory reading, and students will be
expected to have read all prescribed material prior to seminars. Readings will be
distributed in class at least a week before the relevant seminar. There will be three
assessments for this course: an evaluation of a reading, a seminar paper and an
The course aims to equip students with a strong theoretical grasp on the nature and
underlying basis of gender identity and forms of gender/sexual difference. More than
this, the course hopes to introduce students to a number of contentious debates in
this field, not only to theories, but also to polemics of gender and sexuality. In this
regard, the course will comprise both a theoretical and application aspect, most
particularly in relation to the South African context.
PSYC7014: Intellectual history of Psychology and the Human Sciences
Lecturer: Dr Brett Bowman
The primary aim of the module, Intellectual History of Psychology and the Human
Sciences, is to provide students with a grounding in the intellectual history of
psychology and the human sciences (including the social sciences) by exploring
notions of human nature, mind, and self (amongst others) within the history of
philosophy, and charting the development of the „natural‟ and „human‟ sciences. A
background in this intellectual history is a crucial tool in contextualising current
debates and research in psychology and the human sciences.
The module introduces students to the major debates and paradigms that provide the
historical context for thought, theory and research in contemporary psychology. The
module involves reading-based seminars on selected topics from within the history of
psychology and the human sciences, with a particular emphasis on the concept of
mind in western philosophy, the nature of science, the scientific status of psychology,
and the interrelations between psychology and other human sciences.
PSYC7012: Freud and the Origins of Psychodynamic Thought
Lecturer: Dr. Sue van Zyl
This course will begin with a general introduction to the work of Freud, followed by a
detailed discussion of his late work, especially that represented in the second
topography. This course will take the form of input by the lecturer based on a close
reading of Freud‟s own texts followed by discussion. Students will not present papers
as part of the course but will submit the assignments outlined below on the due date.
The major themes to be discussed will include:
Psychoanalytic psychopathology and the Freudian clinic
Freud‟s “developments ” theory – sexuality, Oedipus and the zone theory
The late work of Freud: the second topography/structural theory
PSYC7032: Research in Context
Lecturers: Dr Brett Bowman and Dr Brendon Barnes
The aim of this course is to provide students with skills and techniques used in social
science research. The course will be directed towards providing students with an
understanding of how to approach research in therole of a research consultant.
PSYC7037: Cognitive Neuropsychology
Lecturer: Prof. Kate Cockcroft
This module introduces students to the field of cognitive neuropsychology, from both
a theoretical and applied perspective. Current theoretical approaches to mental
processes such as attention, perception, memory, language, concept formation and
executive functioning will be addressed. Empirical issues regarding research into
these topics will also be covered.
PSYC7033: Selected topic in Psychology
Occasionally, a member of staff or visiting lecturer may choose to offer a course on a
particular topic. If this occurs, it will be publicised at the beginning of the year.
A more detailed course outline will be provided at the beginning of each module.
Information and Applications
Further information may be obtained by contacting the Course Coordinator Dr
Brendon Barnes email: Brendon.Barnes@wits.ac.za
If you are interested in applying the following forms must be submitted to us:
University Application Form
Departmental Application Form
Two Referee Reports
Certified Copies of Academic Records
A piece of academic writing e.g. Journal article or Chapter out of your
honours research report.
These can be submitted to:
Ms Matlelane Memani, Department of Psychology, University of the Witwatersrand,
Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, Johannesburg, South Africa