UG Handbook - Teaching methods


Ordinarily, lectures in Years 1 and 2 generally take place in a Lecture Theatre and involve the entire year group. Lectures are scheduled for up to two hours but generally include breaks. For most of our lectures, audio and visual information is captured and recorded so that it can later be made available on the VLE. Lectures are carefully planned and structured to explain the key facts and phenomena under discussion and to lead you to a deeper and more critical understanding, often covering complex subject matter and the most recent findings from psychological research.


Tutorials taking place in Years 1 and 2 involve small groups of students meeting to discuss specific topics linked to current teaching blocks. Tutorials are usually lead by Graduate Teaching Assistants - research students who have been trained to run tutorials and who have been provided with detailed guidance from the teaching block organiser. Tutorials will generally require you to prepare in advance by reading. The best tutorial groups will encourage everyone to be involved in discussing the topics at hand. As well as being a useful way of learning about and reinforcing ideas relevant to the lecture programme, tutorials are an excellent setting to develop your critical thinking skills in discussion with others.


Practicals/workshops give you the opportunity to put the research skills that you have learned in the Research Methods strand into practice in the context of ideas and issues from the other content-led strands. A practical might, for example, require you to collect and analyse data from a simple experiment or to analyse existing data using a specific statistical technique. The purpose of practicals is to establish the idea of psychology as a scientific/experimental discipline with its own methodology.  An important aspect of practical work is writing experimental reports, so data analysis and writing up may be expected to involve time in addition to that allotted to the class itself. Practical skills are an absolutely central element of the degree; they allow you to ask and answer new questions about the human mind, brain and behaviour. What you learn will help you when you come to design, implement and analyse your final year project.


Miniprojects, which run from week 5 to 7 in both semesters, give you the chance to put your research methods training into practice by conducting your own research. Working in small groups, you choose to investigate one of a range of topics and are guided through the process of forming and specifying clear testable hypotheses, designing experiments to test them, gaining ethical approval, gathering data and performing statistical analyses using the research skills you have learned. Finally, you share your findings with staff and fellow students through oral presentations, a video or a conference-style poster. Miniprojects help prepare you for your final year project and develop your team work, communication and problem solving skills. Testing new ideas through careful observation and experiment is what science is all about; it is a creative process and lots of fun! 


In Year 3 and 4 many advanced modules are based around seminars with smaller groups (normally less than 40) which often blend short lecture-like elements with student presentations (often based on specified readings) and other activities. Advanced modules are generally led by researchers with specific knowledge and expertise in the area you are discussing.

Literature Survey

The literature survey (compulsory for Year 3 MSci students; optional for Year 3 BSc students) requires researching, explaining and critically discussing a clearly defined area of study of your choice under the supervision of a member of staff.


The final year research project is the single most important component of the degree and requires students to conduct and write up an original piece of research, working closely under the supervision of a member of staff. Students have access to all the sophisticated research facilities of the Department. Each year several of the best undergraduate projects are published in mainstream scientific journals, and many of our projects have won prestigious national prizes. For example, York project students have won the national EPS/BSA prize a record 5 times.

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