Based on addressing the motivational needs identified in Self Determination Theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000), the paper outlines an engaging approach to developing research skills in a coursework masters program. Self Determination theory is a needs based theory of motivation, focusing on basic human needs to relate to others in a group, to strive for competence, and to enjoy autonomy. According to Deci and Ryan (2002), social environments which fulfil these needs will result in motivated, engaged and successful individuals. Our students enjoy autonomy in their choice of topic and develop competence in research skills. Although each student conducts an individual project, they support each other throughout the program. The paper reports the findings of a survey of the participants in the 2012 cohort, identifying whether students perceived a difference before and after the research subject in their competence and confidence in conducting research. It reports the actions students considered had contributed to any differences, whether they were actions by the students themselves, by their fellow students or members of staff. The paper also discusses a staged approach to assessment in this research subject, and shares an example of a rubric for critical analysis. The paper concludes that creating a positive environment with support from staff and fellow students enhances motivation for current and future research. Limitations of the study include the small sample size. The paper offers some suggestions for further research, including replicating the study with larger samples.