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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 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

Students learn:

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

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

  • To assess relevance of research papers for possible integration in clinical practice.


For the timetables of your lectures, work groups and exams, please select your study programme in: Psychology timetables

Semester 1: Lectures Work group sessions

Semester 2: Lectures 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 two-hour lectures and 6 two-hour seminars, 100% attendance of seminars is mandatory.

Assessment method

Final grade is based on:

  • 5 graded assignments (40%)

  • grade for participation during seminars (15%)

  • final written exam (45%)

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. 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). This book can be purchased via as the title: "Experimental Clinical Psychology", author: "Putman, Peter", ISBN: 9781787645332". There is a limited amount on 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.

Furthermore, assignment papers will be made available on Blackboard

Contact information

Dr. P. Putman PPutman@fsw.leidenuniv.n