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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-private life 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

At the end of this course, the student can:

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

  • describe research methods used in occupational stress research;

  • critically evaluate existing research regarding occupational stress;

  • integrate findings from existing scientific research and reach a valid conclusion;

  • verbally communicate an integrated, coherent and informative scientific perspective on an occupational stress topic;

  • report a scientifically sound answer to a specific question regarding occupational stress based on existing research in an integrated, coherent manner.

In their future role as occupational health psychologists, they will be able to draw on the key knowledge gathered regarding occupational stress theories and 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 MyTimetable



Students must register themselves for all course components (lectures, tutorials and practicals) they wish to follow. You can register up to 5 days prior to the start of the course.

Exams (if applicable)

You must register for each exam in My Studymap at least 10 days before the exam date. You cannot take an exam without a valid registration in My Studymap.

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

Students who take this course as part of a LDE minor or a premaster programme, exchange students and external guest students will be informed by the education administration about the current registration procedure.

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.

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. In case of a lower grade, a retake for the presentation and/or paper will be organised, which will then be maximally graded with a 6.0.

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. All students are required to take and pass the Scientific Integrity Test with a score of 100% in order to learn about the practice of integrity in scientific writing. Students are given access to the quiz via a module on Brightspace. 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:

  • Grandey, A.A. & Sayre, G.M. (2019). Emotional labor: Regulating emotions for a wage. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 28(2), 131-137.

  • Hartley, T. A., Violanti, J. M., Sarkisian, K., Andrew, M. E., & Burchfiel, C. M. (2013). PTSD symptoms among police officers: associations with frequency, recency, and types of traumatic events. International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, 15(4), 241–253.

  • Khosravipour, M., Khanlare, P., Khazaie, S., Khosravipour, H., & Khazaie, H. (2021). A systematic review and meta-analysis of the association between shift work and metabolic syndrome: The roles of sleep, gender, and type of shift work. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 57.

  • Kinman, G., & Wray, S. (2018). Presenteeism in academic employees-occupational and individual factors. Occupational Medicine, 68(1), 46-50.

  • 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.

  • Xanthopoulou, D., Bakker, A.B., Demerouti, E., & Schaufeli, W.B. (2009). Reciprocal relationships between job resources, personal resources, and work engagement. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 74, 235–244.

Contact information

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