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Work and Stress


Entry requirements

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


This course focuses on the role of workplace factors in employee health and well-being. Both potential negative mental and physical health consequences (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 their 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:

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

  • can prepare and give an informative, scientific presentation in English on an occupational stress topic; and

  • can 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 interactive lectures;

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

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

Attendance is mandatory for all sessions.

All lectures, sessions and the presentation will be held in English. The paper needs to be written in English.

Assessment method

The final grade is based on: the oral presentation (40% of the grade), the individual paper (50% of the grade), and the 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 5.5 to pass the course.

Information about the retake and the inspection of the examination will be communicated via Brightspace in due 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. Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 10 (note: this book will also be used in the course ’Interventions in Occupational Health’)

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

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.

Further readings consist of scientific articles or book chapters and will be announced via Brightspace. 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.

  • Costa, G. (2010). Shift Work and Health: Current Problems and Preventive Actions. Safety and Health at Work, 1(2), 112-123.

  • Declercq, F., Meganck, R., Deheegher, J., et al. (2011). Frequency of and subjective response to critical incidents in the prediction of PTSD in emergency personnel. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 24(1), 133-136.

  • 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.

  • 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. & Fritz, C. (2015). Recovery from job stress: The stressor-detachment model as an integrative framework. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 36(S1), S72-S103.

Contact information

Dr. Margot van der Doef:
Dr. Juriena de Vries: