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Practice of Empirical Research


Admission requirements

Knowledge of statistics, research methods and SPSS at the level of the Leiden Bachelor’s Programme Education and Child Studies.


The course aims to get students acquainted with the practice of empirical research on the level required for their Research Master’s thesis. Scientific papers are examined in detail regarding their organisation and research methods. Attention will be paid to both the methodological design and the statistical analysis of results. The course offers tools for assessing the quality of published research results as well as for producing one’s own research report.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, the student:

  • is competent in methodological and technical research skills that are current in Education and Child Studies

  • is able to design and conduct research in one of the specialisations of the Masters’ programme;

  • can report in writing (in English or Dutch) on human development in an academic professional context;

  • is able to critically evaluate aspects of study design and methodology in empirical research;

  • can analyse and evaluate scientific literature critically to establish its practical or theoretical relevance;

  • can formulate a consistent line of reasoning, based on scientific arguments;

  • is conscious of ethical considerations involved in performing and describing scientific research.


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable

Mode of instruction

  • Seven lectures

  • Five tutorial sessions (attendance obligatory)

  • Seven computer lab sessions (attendance obligatory)

  • Materials as well as instruction will be in English.

Assessment method

Grades are based on a final research paper (written in English or Dutch), under the condition that all other obligatory assignments have been successfully completed. The grades for this paper are rounded to halves.


During this course Brightspace will be used. The Brightspace site will contain announcements, course documents, information on tutorials and computer labs, lecture notes and discussion boards.

Reading list

A detailed Student Manual will be available in August. Additional materials will be available on the Brightspace site of the course.


It is mandatory to register for each course via uSis. This applies to both the lectures and the working groups, even if they take place online. Without a valid registration in uSis you will not be able to participate in the course and you will not have access to the Brightspace module of the course.

In addition, it is also mandatory to register separately in uSis for each exam (i.e. both the first exam opportunity and, if necessary, the resit) in uSis. This also applies to partial examinations in a course. This is possible up to 10 calendar days prior to the exam. You cannot take the exam without a valid registration in uSis.

NB If the exam concerns a paper or a practical assignment, you do not need to register in uSis.

Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

The exam of this course is a written report. Hence, you do not have to register for an exam in uSis.

Contact information

  • First check the Student Manual, then the Brightspace module and only after failure to find what you want to know, contact the staff of the course;

  • For enrolment and organisational issues please e-mail the course coördinator;

  • For specific issues with respect to tutorials, computer labs, end paper, and absence please contact your workgroup instructor;

  • Please pose general questions regarding the end paper on the general Brightspace discussion board;

  • Please pose specific questions related to the subject of your tutorial group on the Group discussion board.

The coordinators of this course are dr. Sarah Plukaard , Samantha Vermeulen and Anja van der Voort