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Advanced Topics in Experimental Clinical Psychology


Entry requirements

Only open to MSc Psychology (research) students


Clinical psychological research is often concerned with investigating the causes of abnormal behavior or with its treatment. A range of study designs can 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

  • Learn to assess the strengths and weaknesses of research designs typically used in clinical psychology.

  • Learn the standards of reporting of various types of clinical research, including the rationale for these standards.

  • Gain knowledge 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

Work group sessions



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 lectures of 2 hours and 6 seminars of two hours. Full attendance to seminars is required.

Assessment method

  • Graded assignments (40%)

  • Presentations, discussions of research papers (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

The following book will probably be replaced by the 5th edition (to appear in 2016, May) of the same book. Do not buy the book yet. 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 Blackboard:

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

  • Vandenbroucke JP et al. (2007). Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE): Explanation and elaboration. PLoS Medicine 4: e297.

  • Altman DG et al. (2001). The revised CONSORT statement for reporting randomized trials: Explanation and elaboration. Annals of Internal Medicine 134: 663-694.

  • Boutron I et al. (2008). Extending the CONSORT statement to randomized trials of nonpharmacological treatment: explanation and elaboration. Annals of Internal Medicine 148: 295-309.

Throughout the course, more papers will be distributed for use in seminars.
h3. Contact information

Prof.dr. Willem van der Does