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Introduction to R


Entry requirements

Only open to Psychology Master students and Research Master students (not available for students with specialisation Methodology and Statistics in Psychology, those students have to follow the “Computational Statistics with R” course instead). Knowledge of basic statistical techniques, like t-test, ANOVA, and regression are requested.


There are many statistical programs that can be used in psychological research. They differ in multiple ways, most prominently in ease of use, generality, transparency, and cost. The most common statistical program is SPSS. SPSS has a Graphical User Interface (GUI), making it easy to use. However, SPSS is expensive, very limited in what it can do, and non-transparent, that is, the precise computations performed by SPSS are only known to the developers of SPSS.

In this course, we will introduce the statistical program R. While R is harder to use than SPSS since it is not GUI-based, it is better than SPSS in all other aspects. It is much more general, transparent (open-source), and free. R is the de-facto standard program among statisticians and quickly gaining popularity among psychologists. It is already the standard program for advanced psychological statistical techniques, such as multilevel and structural equation models.

Beyond being the most general statistical program, R is also a programming language. Thus, in this course, you will also learn basic “coding skills,” which have repeatedly been deemed the most important skill of the 21st century.

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course, the student is able to perform the following using R

  • Simple arithmetic operations

  • Load and preprocess data

  • Create basic data visualizations

  • Perform standard statistical analyses (t-test, ANOVA, regression…)

  • Create a reproducible report using R Markdown

  • Write simple R programs, as needed for data analysis


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 early August. 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)

By registering for a course you are also automatically registered for the Brightspace module. Anyone who is not registered for a course therefore does not have access to the Brightspace module and cannot participate in the first sit of the exam of that course.
Also read the complete registration procedure

Mode of instruction

The course consists of 8 modules. Each module consists of a lecture (2h), a practical session (2h), and homework assignments.

Assessment method

The final grade depends on an exam. Access to the exam requires successful completion of assignments, one for each module. All assignments need to be passed to be able to take the exam.

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

Manuals and articles are available from Brightspace during the course.

Contact information

Dr. Julian Karch (second semester)