nl en

Experimental Clinical Psychology


Entry requirements

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


Clinical psychological research is often concerned with investigating the causes of abnormal behaviour or with its treatment. A range of study designs can be used to identify causes of illness, both cross-sectional and longitudinal designs. Treatment evaluation designs range from case reports to randomized clinical trials (RCTs). RCTs have rapidly 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 this research. Recent developments in psychotherapy and psychopharmacology research will be used as examples.

Course objectives

Students learn:

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

  • To assess research papers on the merits of their chosen research strategies and design;

  • The standards of reporting on various types of clinical research, including the rationale for these standards; and

  • About recent developments in psychological treatments of psychiatric disorders.


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

6 2-hour lectures and 6 2-hour seminars, 100% attendance is required.

Assessment method

Final grade is based on:

  • 6 graded assignments (40%)

  • grade for participation during seminars, including presentation of assignment (15%)

  • final exam (essay questions) (45%)

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has instituted that instructors use a software programme for the systematic detection of plagiarism in students’ written work. In case of fraud disciplinary actions will be taken. Please see the information concerning fraud.

Reading list

  • Kazdin, A. E. (2009). Research Design In Clinical Psychology. Pearson Education (US). International ed of 4th revised ed June 2009 ISBN13 9780205774067 Paperback (NB: make sure you buy the paperback (appr. 70 euro instead of 140)

Furthermore, the following papers will be made available through links in Blackboard:

  • Vandenbroucke, J.P. (2008). Observational research, randomized trials, and two views of medical science. PLoS Medicine 5: e67.

  • Vandenbroucke, J.P., Von Elm, E., Altman, D.G., Gotzsche, P.C., Multrow, C.D., Pocock, S.J., Poole, C., Schlesselman, J.J., Egger, M. (2007). Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE): Explanation and elaboration. PLoS Medicine 4: e297.

  • Altman, D.G., Schulz, K.F., Moher, D., Egger, M., Davidoff, F., Elbourne, D., Gotzsche, P.C., Lang, T. (2001). The revised CONSORT statement for reporting randomized trials: Explanation and elaboration. Annals of Internal Medicine 134: 663-694.

  • Boutron, I., Moher, D., Altman, D.G., Schulz, K.F., Ravaud, P. (2008). Extending the CONSORT statement to randomized trials of nonpharmacological treatment: explanation and elaboration. Annals of Internal Medicine 148: 295-309.

Contact information

Prof.dr. Willem van der Does