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Applied Developmental Psychopathology


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

Succesful completion of a previous psychology course.


Mental health problems in children and adolescents are common and are associated with substantial economic and societal costs. Safeguarding their healthy development, mentally as well as physically, would therefore seem an important aim of (global) public health policy. Some mental health problems in youth are said, however, to be on the rise (e.g., ADHD), leading to questions about the impact of societal, cultural, and global factors upon youth mental health.

This course will focus on a range of psychological problems during childhood and adolescence using the developmental psychopathology perspective as a theoretical framework. The framework provides a broad and developmentally orientated approach to understanding emotional and behavioural problems during the life span. It emphasises the relationship between normality and pathology, the complex interplay of multiple risk and protective factors, and developmental pathways including continuity and change. During the course we will also critically analyse contemporary youth mental health issues and their potential implications for society and public health.

The lectures will provide an introduction to the major mental health problems in youth, including internalizing (anxiety and depression), externalizing (ADHD and conduct problems), and neurobiological (autism) disorders, from the developmental psychopathology perspective. Attention will also be given to prevention and treatment of these disorders. Students will learn about the world’s leading mental health classification systems, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM; American Psychiatric Association) and International Classification of Diseases (ICD: World Health Organization), and the implications of these systems for youth mental health.

Course Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Describe the main concepts of the developmental psychopathology approach to mental health problems and disorders in youth.

  • Summarise the main mental health problems and disorders in youth discussed during the course.

  • Compare and contrast the two major classification approaches (i.e., clinical and empirical).

  • Describe the main treatment approaches to youth mental health disorders.

  • Apply the developmental psychopathology perspective to new cases.

  • Critically analyse contemporary youth mental health issues using empirical research.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2021-2022 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This course consists of two x two hour weekly online/on campus sessions which will be delivered through a combination of lectures, class discussions and group presentations. In weeks 1 to 6 each weekly session will comprise a lecture on a particular topic and an interactive workgroup. During weeks 2 to 7 one group of students will lead part of the session through a presentation and debate about a contemporary issue related to youth mental health. Week 7 will focus on the treatment of youth mental health problems

Assessment Method

  • Assessment 1: In-class preparation and participation
    Weight: 10%, deadline: weeks 1-6
    Learning aim: Interactive engagement with course material and individual input to weekly theme.

  • Assessment 2: Three written assignments
    Weight: 30%, deadline: weeks 2,4,6 (3 in total, each worth 10%)
    Learning aim: Individual engagement with and analysis of course readings and material.

  • Assessment 3: Presentation in small groups
    Weight: 20%, deadline: weeks 2 - 7
    Learning aim: Critical analysis of a contemporary youth mental health issue.

  • Assessment 4: Final paper/essay
    Weight: 40%, deadline: week 8
    Learning aim: Understanding and integration of course content

Reading list

Wicks-Nelson, R., & Israel, A. C. (2017). Abnormal child and adolescent psychology with DSM-V Updates (8th Ed.). Psychology Press or Yaylor & Francis Ltd. The ISBN for this book is: 9781138091016 (or hardcover: 978013376698)

Topic specific compulsory and recommended readings are given in the weekly overview. These will be published on Brightspace.

A full reading list will be included in the course syllabus.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Evelien Broekhof,