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Experimental Clinical Psychology


Admission requirements

Mandatory course for MSc Clinical students.


Clinical psychological research is often concerned with investigating the causes of abnormal behavior or with its treatment. A range of study designs can used to identify causes of illness, both cross-sectional and longitudinal designs. Treatment evaluation designs range from case reports to randomized clinical trials (RCTs). RCTs have rapidly become the gold standard of evidence in biomedical research. However, the vast majority of studies is observational. Furthermore, it has been argued that RCTs are impractical in some circumstances, and impossible in others.

In this course we will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of cohort-studies, case-control studies and cross-sectional studies for investigating causal relationships. Secondly, we will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of different treatment evaluation designs, as well as the standards of conducting and reporting this research. Recent developments in psychotherapy and psychopharmacology research will be used as examples.

Course objectives

  • Learn to reflect upon the strengths and weaknesses of research designs typically used in clinical psychology.

  • Learn to assess research papers on the merits of their chosen research strategies and design.

  • Learn the standards of reporting of various types of clinical research, including the rationale for these standards.

  • Gain knowledge about recent developments in psychological treatments of psychiatric disorders.


Experimental Clinical Psychology (2011-2012):

Mode of instruction

Six (2hr) lectures and six (2 hr) seminars. 100% attendance required.

Assessment method

  • 6 graded assignments (40%)

  • grade for participation during seminars, including presentation of assignment (15%)

  • final exam (essay questions) (45%)

From January 1, 2006 the Faculty of Social Sciences has instituted the Ephorus system to be used by instructors for the systematic detection of plagiarism in students’ written work. Please see the information concerning fraud .


Information on

Reading list

The following papers will be made available through Blackboard. Throughout the course, more papers will be distributed for use in seminars.

  • Vandenbroucke JP (2008). Observational research, randomized trials, and two views of medical science. PLoS Medicine 5: e67.

  • Borckardt JJ et al. (2008). Clinical practice as natural laboratory for psychotherapy research. American Psychologist 63: 77-95.

  • Vandenbroucke JP et al. (2007). Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE): Explanation and elaboration. PLoS Medicine 4: e297.

  • Altman DG et al. (2001). The revised CONSORT statement for reporting randomized trials: Explanation and elaboration. Annals of Internal Medicine 134: 663-694.

  • Boutron I et al. (2008). Extending the CONSORT statement to randomized trials of nonpharmacological treatment: explanation and elaboration. Annals of Internal Medicine 148: 295-309.

  • Kazdin, Alan E.(2009) Research Design In Clinical Psychology. 524 pagina’s, Pearson Education (US) | International ed of 4th revised ed juni 2009 ISBN13 9780205774067
    Paperback (NB: make sure you buy the paperback (appr. 42 euro instead of 140)


Master’s introduction and enrolment day

Make a reservation in your agenda so you will not miss any information that you will need during your master’s programme MSc in Psychology. Please consult the Agenda master meetings

Exam registration

Registration for the (re)exam is not automatic. Students, who haven’t registered, cannot participate in the (re)exam

Contact information

Prof. dr. Willem van der Does
Tel. +31 (0)71 527 3653