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Child abuse and neglect: neurobiological aspects and intervention


NB Language of instruction is English

Admission requirements

This course builds on the knowledge and skills acquired in the following Bachelor courses: Inleiding Pedagogische en Onderwijswetenschappen 1A, Inleiding Pedagogische en Onderwijswetenschappen 1B, Neurobiologische Achtergronden van Opvoeding en Ontwikkeling and Gezinspedagogiek.


Child abuse and neglect (CAN) has potential negative consequences for children’s socio-emotional, cognitive, and somatic development, on a behavioral and neurobiological level. These consequences can be pervasive and life-long.

This course addresses sequelae of CAN on different levels of development, with a focus on neurobiological aspects. Animal models of CAN will be discussed to better understand the consequences of CAN and their specific mechanisms.

The severity and type of consequences of CAN may differ for individual children. Therefore, the course also focuses on factors that may explain these differential effects. We will also discuss the effects of structural neglect, as seen in institution-reared children. Finally, interventions aimed at reducing and preventing (the behavioral and neurobiological effects of) CAN will be discussed.

Course objectives

  • Gaining up-to-date knowledge about (neurobiological) aspects of CAN: consequences, mechanisms, differential effects, and interventions

  • Critically evaluating scientific literature in the area of CAN and where possible translating this knowledge to clinical practice

  • Developing academic skills (e.g., papers, oral presentations) applied to the area of child abuse and neglect


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable

Mode of instruction

Lectures and seminars.

Assessment method

  • Written exam (essay questions and multiple choice questions) (60%)

  • Written assignments (30%)

  • Oral presentations (10%)

Attendance at the seminars is mandatory. Students have to pass the exam (grade at least 5.5), assignments (average grade at least 5.5), and presentation (grade at least 5.5) to pass the course.

Students who have completed all the assignments with an average that is lower than 5.5 are given the opportunity to do one extra assignment and substitute their lowest grade.

Students who have failed the presentation will be given the opportunity to present a second time with a new presentation assignment.

Students who have passed the assignments and presentation but failed the exam can keep their assignment and presentation grades for one year.


During this course Brightspace will be used.

Reading list

Scientific papers, to be announced during the course.


It is mandatory to register for each course via uSis. This applies to both the lectures and the working groups, even if they take place online. Without a valid registration in uSis you will not be able to participate in the course and you will not have access to the Brightspace module of the course.

In addition, it is also mandatory to register separately in uSis for each exam (i.e. both the first exam opportunity and, if necessary, the resit) in uSis. This also applies to partial examinations in a course. This is possible up to 10 calendar days prior to the exam. You cannot take the exam without a valid registration in uSis.

NB If the exam concerns a paper or a practical assignment, you do not need to register in uSis.

Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

Contact information

Co-ordinator: Withney de Haan