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Attachment: state of the art


NB Language of instruction is English unless only Dutch-speaking students participate

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 and Gezinspedagogiek.


This course concerns the state of the art of attachment theory and research. Current research from Leiden University as well as from other research groups will be discussed. During this course, students will have the chance to get “a look behind the scenes” in studies that have recently been conducted (or are currently going on) at the Center of Child and Family Studies.

The Handbook of Attachment and (more recent) articles that have been published in international scientific journals will be discussed. Students need to fill in a review form regarding the article that will be discussed.

Moreover, the students will develop a research proposal. The student aims to formulate an unanswered research question and defines a series of possible hypotheses, and an adequate study design. The proposal is presented by means of a PowerPoint presentation (lasting 5 to 10 minutes).

The course is completed with an exam. The exam will mainly cover topics that are discussed in the handbook but have not been presented or discussed during the lectures.

Course objectives

  • A thorough knowledge and understanding of attachment and life history theories based on the Handbook of Attachment, and of methodological approaches which are used in the papers;

  • Developing a research proposal, showing the capacity to apply various theoretical frameworks, and the ability of critically selecting, studying and analyzing literature relevant to the issue, collaborating with others;

  • Reviewing recent papers, thus showing the ability to engage in the international academic debate;

  • Orally presenting a new research proposal and defend it in a discussion.

Achievement levels

1 Substantive knowledge

1.1 has profound knowledge of the various theories and methodological approaches common within the domain of one of the specialisations offered by the Master’s programme;
1.2 is able to analyse and conceptualise questions and problems in one of the specialisations offered by the Master’s programme;
1.3 has the capacity to identify a theoretical framework suitable for addressing problems and issues relevant for one of the specialisations offered by the Master’s programme.

2 Research methods and statistics

2.1 is competent in methodological and technical research skills that are current in Education and Child Studies in general, and in the Master’s specialisation in particular;
2.2 is able to independently design, organise, and conduct research in one of the specialisations of the Masters’ programme;
2.3 is able to critically evaluate aspects of study design and methodology in empirical research.

3 Academic skills

3.1 describing and analysing practical and theoretical issues in human development from both a scientific and an ethical point of view;
3.2 analysing and evaluating scientific literature critically to establish its practical or theoretical relevance;
3.3 formulating a consistent line of reasoning, based on scientific arguments;
3.4 reporting orally and in writing on issues in human development both in an academic and in a professional context.


Mode of instruction

Lectures and seminars.

Assessment method

  • Review forms

  • Quality and presentation of a research proposal

  • Written exam.


During this course“Blackboard”: will be used.

Reading list

  • Cassidy, J. & Shaver, P. R. (Eds.), (2008). Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications. New York: The Guilford Press.

  • Recent articles (will be made available on Blackboard)


Please note that separate uSis registration is mandatory for lectures, seminars, exams and re-exams. Student who do not register, cannot attend courses or take exams.


  • Registration for the lectures of the course is possible as of 100 calendar days through 10 calendar days before the first lecture at the latest;

  • Registration for the seminars of the course is possible as of 100 calendar days through 10 calendar days before the first seminar at the latest.


Student must register for each exam through uSis. This is only possible until 10 calendar days before the exam. More information on exam registration

Contact information

Dr. S. Biro
After classes or on appointment (by e-mail).