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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.


Lectures Seminars Exams

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. Retaking the exam, assignments, or presentation is not possible with grades 5.5 or higher.

Research Master students complete all assignments, presentations, and exams in English. They also complete an extra assignment.


During this course Blackboard will be used.

Reading list

Scientific papers, to be announced during the course.



Students need to register for lectures in uSis. It is not possible to take a course without a valid registration.


Students are not automatically registered for exams. They can register themselves in uSis until 10 calendar days before the exam date at the latest. Students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the exam.

Please consult the course and exam registration website for information on registration periods and further instructions.

Contact information