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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



Students must register themselves for all course components (lectures, tutorials and practicals) they wish to follow. You can register up to 5 days prior to the start of the course.


You must register for each exam in My Studymap at least 10 days before the exam date. You cannot take an exam without a valid registration in My Studymap. Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

Exchange students and external guest students will be informed by the education administration about the current registration procedure.

Mode of instruction

The course consists of 7 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. All students are required to take and pass the Scientific Integrity Test with a score of 100% in order to learn about the practice of integrity in scientific writing. Students are given access to the quiz via a module on Brightspace. 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)