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Experimental Clinical Psychology


Entry requirements

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

This course is offered twice a year


Clinical psychological research is often concerned with investigating the causes and treatment of abnormal behaviour. A range of observational study designs, both cross-sectional and longitudinal, can be used to identify causes of illness. Treatment evaluation designs range from case reports to randomized clinical trials (RCTs). RCTs have become the gold standard of evidence in biomedical research. However, the vast majority of studies is observational. Furthermore, it has been argued that RCTs are impractical in some circumstances, and impossible in others.

In this course we will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of cohort studies, case-control studies and cross-sectional studies for investigating causal relationships. Secondly, we will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of different treatment evaluation designs, as well as the standards of conducting and reporting research, and scientific integrity. The course prepares students for scientific work, including writing the Master’s thesis, as well as for evidence-based working in clinical practice..

Course objectives

At the end of this course, the student:

  • can reflect upon the strengths and weaknesses of research designs typically used in clinical psychology

  • can critically assess research papers on the merits of their chosen research strategies, design, ethical aspects, and adherence to reporting standards.

  • can assess relevance and quality of research about the etiology or treatment of psychopathology for possible integration in the clinical practice.

  • can communicate better with researchers and other professionals about the relevance and quality of research about the etiology or treatment of psychopathology.

  • is prepared to further learn to set up and report about their own research in e.g. their MSc thesis.


For the timetable of this course please refer to 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.


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.

Exchange students and external guest students will be informed by the education administration about the current registration procedure.

Mode of instruction

6 two-hour lectures and 6 two-hour seminars, 100% attendance of seminars is mandatory.

You will be scheduled to a workgroup on one of the following days:

  • Block 1: Wednesday at 09.15-11.00 or 11.15-13.00 or 13.15-15.00 hours

  • Block 3: Wednesday at 09.15-11.00 or 11.15-13.00 or 13.15-15.00 hours
    Please take into account that scheduling could occur in any of these timeframes and that you will have to be available during those times. We will take into account language preference (Dutch or English), but not personal preferences.

Assessment method

Final grade is based on:

  • several graded assignments (30%)

  • grade for participation during seminars (10%)

  • final written exam (60%)

The final exam consists of essay questions about an article that will be made available through Blackboard one week before the exam. The exam will require students to master and integrate all course material as covered in the six weeks of lectures, assignments and course literature. Books, notes, assignments etc. may be brought to the exam. The answers need to be written in English. The list of chapters from Kazdin’s book that need to be studied for the exam, as well as the lecture slides and the additional papers that need to be studied for the exam, will be published on Blackboard.

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

The book that is used in this course is: Kazdin, Alan E. (2017). Research Design in Clinical Psychology, Books a la Carte Edition, 5th Edition. New York: Pearson ISBN13: 9780205992089 (Please note: this book has been changed and updated significantly compared to the 4th edition). You might be able to find a second hand copy, but this title is no longer printed by the publisher. However, we have arranged for a custom made book (containing only the chapters that you need) with the title: "Experimental Clinical Psychology", author: "Putman, Peter", ISBN: 9781787645332". There is a limited amount of stock in the Netherlands and it might have to be shipped in from another country which will take a few days extra, so make sure you order the book ASAP. Ordering the book can be done through this link. Members of study association Labyrint can order this book through Labyrint/INDEX books as well.

Furthermore, assignment papers will be made available on Brightspace.

Contact information

Dr. P. Putman