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Introduction to Experimental Methods for the Humanities


Admission requirements

This course is available to all Humanities students.


This course will give an overview of the process of experimental research and experimental design in the humanities. The course will introduce students to the empirical cycle and the basic definitions and requirements of experimental research. Further, it aims to familiarize students with the different types of experimental research and methods. Students will gain awareness on the main challenges about devising an experiment. This will be obtained by first, exposing them to existing experimental research in its varied form and allowing them to develop a critical view on it, and second, by having them develop their own experimental research proposal that should conform to the scientific standards discussed throughout the course.

Topics to be covered:
1. The Empirical Cycle and The Scientific Approach: how to distinguish science from pseudoscience;
2. Research Hypotheses: inductive vs. deductive processes;
3. Experimental Research: definition and basic issues (e.g., defining independent variables, assigning participants to conditions, eliminating confounds/extraneous variables);
4. Basic Requirements for conducting Experimental Research: Conforming to Ethics; Reliability, Validity and Replicability; Resources;
5. Different types of Experimental Research: fieldwork research, lab-based research, web-based research;
6. Basics of Experimental Design: hypothesis testing; one-way designs, factorial designs, main effects and interactions, population sampling, control groups/conditions;
7. Different ways to collect experimental data: randomization, counter-balancing, Latin-square design, block design;
8. Different Methods of data collection for Experimental Research: Reaction times, Accuracy, Rating, Experimental Questionnaires, Completion or Identification tasks, recordings, transcripts, physiological measurements (e.g., eye-tracking, fMRI, EEG, MEG, TMS);
9. Critical Experimental Research Assessment: identifying the validity, reliability and reproducibility of existing research;
10. Playing the role of an Experimenter: choosing the question(s) that deserves being put into practice;
11. Coming up with an original research idea (theory-driven hypothesis testing) vs. replicating existing research;
12. Variability in approaches to Experimental Research across fields and subdisciplines: statistical power, significance level, etc.

Course objectives

  • Be able to distinguish between science and pseudoscience/good vs. bad scientific practice;

  • Understand the Empirical Cycle and internalize each of its conceptual steps;

  • Be able to identify different experimental research types and know the ways in which they can be informative with respect to the research question at hand;

  • Understand and be aware of main challenges in devising an experiment;

  • Develop a critical view on existing experimental research;

  • Apply acquired knowledge to define a potential experimental research idea.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


Final exam final (written) exam (multiple choice) and a final research proposal. Both count 50% of the final grade and both have to be passed, i.e. assessed at least 5.5 or higher.

  • Final (written) exam (multiple choice)

  • Final Research Proposal


  • Final exam (50 percent of grade)

  • Final Research Proposal (50 percent of grade)
    Both parts have to be assessed at least 5.5 or higher.


A resit is possible for the final exam and for the Final Research Proposal.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Melissa Bateson & Paul Martin (2021). Measuring Behaviour. An introductory guide. Fourth edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.


For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.
For questions about enrolment, admission, etc., contact the Education Administration Office: Reuvensplaats.


This course is part of Faculty-wide programme for Digital Humanities and as such it will also be available to students of other study programmes than the BA Urban Studies.

Note: this course is taught in The Hague.