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Introduction to Life and Behavioral Sciences


Admission requirements



In this course, emphasis is on the role of methodology and statistics in the field of the Life and Behavioural Sciences. Good research methodology and valid statistical methods are of vital importance for progress in this field. This course gives an overview of the role of statistics in three broad research themes:

  • Clinical, Epidemiological, and Observational Medical Research. Leiden University Medical Center.

  • Plant/Animal/Human Genetics and Genomics, and Environmental Research. Wageningen University.

  • (Neuro)psychological Research. Leiden University.

Part of each theme are research visits to research institutes where an overview of the area is given with emphasis on current methodology and statistical applications. Additional background knowledge is provided by articles and lectures. Research visits include:

  • Leiden University Medical Center, Center for Human Drug Research, Leiden

  • Wageningen University, Wageningen

  • Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition MRI scanner, Leiden

Course objectives

The overall aim of this course is to introduce students to important areas of application of statistical methods in the Life and Behavioural Sciences. More specifically, students should, at the end of the course:

  • Have basic knowledge of the types of research performed in the different subfields in the Life and Behavioural sciences.

  • Have basic knowledge of research designs and statistical methods of the different subfields in the Life and Behavioural sciences.

  • Be able to identify the prominent statistical methods within a subfield.

  • Be able to critically assess the role of the statistical method within a sub-field (i.e. highlight advantages, and limitations).

  • Be able to compare the role of statistics across different subfields (i.e. highligt similarities and differences).

Mode of Instruction

The course consists of a mix of lectures, half-day research facility visits, and workgroups.

Time Table

See the Leiden University students' website for the Statistical Science programme -> Schedules 2018-2019

Assessment method

Students will work in small groups to prepare a final presentation on a specific statistical topic covering the three subfields. Each student also prepares an individual essay on this topic. The final grade will be based on the quality of the essay (50%) and performance on the presentation (50%). A resit possibility is scheduled in consultation with the teacher.

Lecture, research visit and workgroup attendance is obligatory. Details concerning this obligation will be announced at the first day of the course. If the attendance obligation is not met, the course has to be retaken the following academic year.

Course Registration

Enroll in Blackboard for the course materials and course updates.

To be able to obtain a grade and the EC for the course, sign up for the (re-)exam in uSis ten calendar days before the actual (re-)exam will take place. Note, the student is expected to participate actively in all activities of the program and therefore uses and registers for the first exam opportunity.

Course Materials

Literature will be specified during the course, no books are required.

Course information

w [dot] d [dot] weeda [at] fsw [dot] leidenuniv [dot] nl


  • This is a compulsory course of the Master Statistical Science for the Life and Behavioural sciences.