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Conducting and evaluating empirical research


Admission requirements

Knowledge of statistics, research methods and SPSS at the level of the Leiden Bachelor’s Programme Education and Child Studies.


The course aims to get students acquainted with the practice of empirical research on the level required for their Research Master’s thesis. Scientific papers are examined in detail regarding their organisation and research methods. Attention will be paid to both the methodological design and the statistical analysis of results. The course offers tools for assessing the quality of published research results as well as for producing one’s own research report.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, the student:

  • is competent in methodological and technical research skills that are current in Education and Child Studies in general, and in the Master’s specialisation in particular;

  • is able to independently design, organise, and conduct research in one of the specialisations of the Masters’ programme;

  • is able to critically evaluate aspects of study design and methodology in empirical research;

  • can analyse and evaluate scientific literature critically to establish its practical or theoretical relevance;

  • can formulate a consistent line of reasoning, based on scientific arguments;

  • can report in writing on issues in human development in an academic professional context;

  • is conscious of ethical considerations involved in performing and describing scientific research.


Mode of instruction

  • Seven lectures

  • Five tutorial sessions in which research methods are discussed and practiced (attendance obligatory)

  • Seven computer lab sessions (attendance obligatory)

  • There will be a tutorial-computer lab group specifically for Research Master and foreign students.

  • Materials as well as instruction will be in English.

Assessment method

Grades are based on a final research paper, under the condition that all other obligatory assignments have been successfully completed..


During this course Blackboard will be used. The Blackboard site will contain announcements, course documents, information on tutorials and computer labs, lecture notes and discussion boards.

Reading list

A detailed Student Manual will be available in August. Additional materials will be available on the Blackboard site of the course.


Please note that separate uSis registration is mandatory for this course. Student who do not register, cannot attend courses or take exams. Registration in uSis is possible from 100 through 10 calendar days before the first lecture. Research Master and foreign students will automatically be enrolled in a work group by the instructors of the course.


The exam for this course is a paper. This means you do NOT have to register for this this exam in uSis.

Contact information

  • First check the Student Manual, then the Blackboard module and only after failure to find what you want to know, contact the staff of the course;

  • For enrollment and organisational issues please mail: Dr. M. Malda

  • For specific issues with respect to tutorials, computer labs, end paper, and absence please contact your instructor;

  • Please pose general questions regarding the end paper on the general Blackboard forum;

  • Please pose specific questions related to the subject of your tutorial group on the Group forum.