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Research Topics in Health Promotion


Entry requirements

Open to MSc Psychology research students with specialisation Clinical and Health Psychology.


In this course, theories on the determinants of health behaviour and on the processes of behavioural change are addressed, including issues such as ‘why do people endanger their health?’ and ‘why are good intentions not enough to change behaviour? In the individual assignments students reflect throughout the course on one main theoretical construct of their interest, how it is embedded in theory, the proposed underlying working mechanisms, and the empirical findings from previous research on the construct. Based on these analyses students determine what the next step should be to increase knowledge on the construct, and formulate a new research question and study design. They then design and pilot-test a questionnaire as a measurement instrument, and present their overall findings during an academic poster session.

Course objectives

After the course students:


  • Have basic knowledge and experience with regard to the operationalisation and assessment of theoretical concepts in the field of health promotion;

  • Understand some of the promises and pitfalls of questionnaire design, including related ethical issues;

  • Have gained experience with written and oral scientific presentation of research ideas and findings.

Skills that will be trained:
Students will learn to perform an in-depth study of a theory/construct and to generate new theoretical insights and questions based on this analysis. The following skills that are essential for all researchers will be trained:

  • Critically reading, analyzing and synthesizing of the literature

  • Generating new ideas based on theory including proposed underlying mechanisms

  • Writing research proposals

  • Designing (online) instruments (questionnaires), including ethical considerations related to questionnaire research

  • Performing (think-aloud) pilot-studies

  • Designing effective posters

  • Presenting


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




Students need to enroll for lectures and work group sessions.
Master’s course registration

Mode of instruction

The course will consist of seminars (theories of behavioural change, constructing and testing questionnaires, and designing posters) and workgroups (overall 2 × 2hours in first weeks, 5 × 3 hours in following weeks, 1 × 4 hours in final week)

Assessment method

Attendance during sessions (full attendance is mandatory)
Individual assignments): Research proposal and presentations (40%), Questionnaire design and pilot studies (30%), Poster design and presentation (30%).

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

Recommended (not mandatory)

  • Michie, S. F., West, R., Campbell, R., Brown, J., & Gainforth, H. (2014). ABC of Behaviour Change Theories. To be obtained via:

Additional reading will be posted on Blackboard.

Contact information

Dr. Winnie Gebhardt