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Group Dynamics


Entry requirements

Students are strongly advised to first follow the first-year (propaedeuse) course in Social and Organisational Psychology.


The course focuses on analysing group phenomena – such as group cohesion, group and sub-group formation, conformity, influence, leadership, joint activities, decision-making and intra- and intergroup conflicts – from the perspective of different theories of group dynamics. The focus lies not only on acquiring knowledge and understanding of different theoretical approaches, but also on how to apply these and develop good writing skills.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge and understanding: students will acquire a general knowledge of theories in the field of group dynamics, as well as of the methodological foundations of the discipline.

  • Applying knowledge and understanding: students will learn to apply a selection of insights into group dynamics to practical problems and to conceptualise these problems and offer recommendations. For their future career, students are prepared to solve problems and offer solutions based on knowledge from the field of group dynamics.

  • Writing skills: students will learn to clearly formulate their analyses and recommendations (see above), for colleagues in the field and a wider public (including potential clients). This trains students to write in a clear manner and to structure texts with scientific insights, tailored to a suitable target group.

  • In addition, students will learn to design simple research studies in order to assess their analyses and recommendations (proposed interventions).


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable


NOTE As of the academic year 2021-2022, you must register for all courses in uSis. You do this twice a year: once for the courses you want to take in semester 1 and once for the courses you want to take in semester 2.
Registration for courses in the first semester is possible from July. Registration for courses in the first semester is possible from December.
The exact date on which the registration starts will be published on the website of the Student Service Center (SSC). First year Bachelor students as well as premaster students will be registered by the Student Service Center; they do not need to register themselves.

The registration period for all courses closes five calendar days before the start of the course.
Also read the complete registration procedure

Mode of instruction

Lectures: in 7 lectures, different theories of group dynamics are explained and applied to everyday group phenomena. The written assignments that students produce at different times during the course (in pairs) are also the subject of plenary discussions in the lectures. The lectures also pay attention to ethics in group dynamic research.

4 written assignments, which are available via Brightspace, must be completed during the course: in these students apply theoretical insights to group phenomena, as described in newspaper articles and William Golding’s (1954) novel Lord of the Flies. This should lead to a concrete recommendation on how to solve these real-life or fictional problems. The analyses and recommendation should be clearly formulated, for colleagues and a wider public. In order to help the students master the above skills, these assignments focus on the following: formulating causal models in which theoretical analyses of particular group problems culminate in specific recommendations for group dynamic interventions; clearly formulating analyses and recommendations for colleagues and a wider public.; and developing simple designs to assess the value of the students’ own analyses and/or recommendations.

Assessment method

Knowledge and understanding are being assessed by the multiple-choice exam.
Application of knowledge and understanding is assessed in the 4 written assignments, in which the ability to write in clear language for colleagues and a wider public is also assessed. Skills in developing simple research designs are also assessed as a part of the written assignments. When the aggregate grade for the 4 written assignments falls below 5.50, one of the 4 written assignments may be re-submitted as a resit. Since all pairs of student received elaborate collective as well as individual feedback on all of the four assignments, the maximum grade for the re-submitted assignment is Satisfactory (6.0).
The examination counts for 60% of the final mark. The mark for the 4 written assignments counts for 40% of the final mark.

The Institute of Psychology uses fixed rules for grade calculation and compulsory attendance. It also 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 these three policies.

Reading list

  • Forsyth, D.R. (2018) Group dynamics (7th edition). Boston, MA.: Cengage Learning, Chapter 1, 2, and 16 not included. An alternative for this physical study book is the e-book with extra digital materials offered by the authors of this book. Available via MindTap on

  • Golding, W. (1954). Lord of the Flies. London: Faber & Faber Limited (or a later English edition or Dutch translation, for example by Uitgeverij Athenaeum – Polak & Van Gennep, Amsterdam).

  • Assignments, timetable and regulations, available via Brightspace.

Contact information