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Work and Stress


Entry requirements

Only open to master’s students in Psychology with specialisation Occupational Health Psychology.


This course focuses on the role of workplace factors in employee health and well-being. Both potential negative consequences, i.e. mental and physical health problems (i.e. burnout, coronary heart disease), and positive consequences (i.e. work engagement, personal growth/learning) will be addressed. A series of lectures introduces students to the most important occupational stress theories (e.g., Job-Demand-Control-Support model, Effort-Reward Imbalance model). Empirical research regarding the impact of work factors on mental and physical health is discussed, taking into account methodological issues in this area of research.

After these lectures, sessions will entail presentations prepared by the students themselves on a contemporary issue in the work and stress field. Regarding the topic, students may put forward own suggestions, or choose a topic from an existing list (e.g., bullying, job insecurity, work-family conflict, burnout, ‘flow’). In order to ensure active involvement and participation in the discussion, students will read key publications and send in questions based on these publications before each presentation session. Finally, students write a short paper (mini-review) answering a specific question related to their presentation topic.

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will:

  • have scientific up to date knowledge on the impact of work factors on employee health and well-being, and on prominent occupational stress theories;

  • be able to prepare and give a presentation in English on an occupational stress topic; and

  • be able to write a short paper (mini-review) answering a specific question regarding an occupational stress topic on the basis of scientific literature.

In their future role as occupational health psychologists they will be able to draw on the key knowledge gathered regarding the relationship between work factors and employee health and well-being. Furthermore, in their professional role they may regularly be asked to provide a concise state-of-the-art perspective on an occupational stress topic to employers. Finally, in both their practical work and their research in the area of occupational health they will benefit from the critical approach to research developed during this course.


For the timetables of your lectures, work groups and exams, please select your study programme in:
Psychology timetables




Students need to enroll for lectures and work group sessions.
Master’s course registration


Students are not automatically enrolled for an examination. They can register via uSis from 100 to 10 calendar days before the date. Students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the examination.
Registering for exams

Mode of instruction

This course consists of:

  • Three 3-hour lectures;

  • Six student presentations and discussion sessions (three 3-hour and three 2-hour sessions);

  • Individual feedback on draft of presentation and on draft of paper.

Attendance is mandatory for all sessions.

Assessment method

The final grade is based on: the oral presentation (40% of the grade), the individual paper (50% of the grade), and quality of questions sent in (preparation for the presentation sessions) (10% of the grade). Note: both the presentation and the paper should be minimally graded 6 to pass the course.

The Institute of Psychology follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of this fraud policy.

Reading list

Leka, S. & Houdmont, J. (Eds.) (2010) Occupational Health Psychology. Chichester. UK: Wiley-Blackwell. (note: this book will also be used in the course ’Interventions in Occupational Health’)

Further readings will be announced via Blackboard. Exemplary literature includes:

  • Bakker, A.B., Schaufeli, W.B., Leiter, M.P., & Taris, T.W. (2008). Work engagement: An emerging concept in occupational health psychology. Work and Stress, 22, 187-200.

  • Ferrie, J.E., Kivimaki, M., Shipley, M.J., Davey Smith, G. & Virtanen, M. (2013). Job insecurity and incident coronary heart disease: The Whitehall II prospective cohort study. Atherosclerosis, 227(1), 178-81.

  • Ganster, D.C. & Rosen, C.C. (2013). Work stress and employee health: A multidisciplinary review. Journal of Management, 39(5), 1085-1122.

  • Maslach, C. (2008). Early predictors of job burnout and engagement. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93(3), 498.

  • Nielsen, M B, & Einarsen, S. (2012). Outcomes of exposure to workplace bullying: A meta-analytic review. Work and Stress, 26(4), 309-332.

  • Siegrist, J & Li, J. (2016). Associations of extrinsic and intrinsic components of work stress with health: a systematic review of evidence on the Effort-Reward Imbalance model. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(4), article number 432.

  • Sonnentag, S. & Frese, M. (2012). Stress in organizations. In I.B. Weiner, N. Schmitt, & S. Highhouse (Eds.), Handbook of Psychology (Vol. 12: Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Chapter 21, pp. 560-592). London: Wiley.

  • Zijlstra, F. & Sonnentag, S. (2006). After work is done: Psychological perspectives on recovery from work. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 15(2), 129-138.

Contact information

Dr. Margot van der Doef