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Work and Stress


Admission requirements

Master’s students Occupational Health Psychology


This course focuses on the role of workplace factors in employee health and well-being. Both the potential negative consequences, i.e. mental and physical health problems, and the positive consequences, i.e. engagement, personal growth/learning, will be addressed.

A series of introductory lectures introduces students to the most important occupational stress models (e.g., Job-Demand-Control-Support model, Effort-Reward Imbalance model, Person-Environment fit model). Empirical research regarding the impact of work factors on mental and physical health (e.g. burnout, cardiovascular disease) is discussed.

After these lectures, sessions will be dedicated to presentations on a contemporary issue in the work and stress field prepared by the students themselves. Regarding the topic of the presentation, students may put forward own suggestions, or choose a topic from an existing list (e.g. work-family conflict, impact of shift work on health, determinants of burnout, the experience of ‘flow’). In order to ensure active involvement and participation in the presentations and ensuing discussion, all students will read provided key publications on the topics at hand before each presentation session.

Towards the end of the course students will write a short paper related to the topic of their presentation.

Course objectives

Students will

  • acquire scientific up-to-date knowledge on the area of occupational stress

  • be familiar with the most prominent occupational stress models

  • be able to prepare and give a presentation in English on an occupational stress topic

  • be able to write a short paper on an occupational stress topic based on up-to-date scientific literature


Work and Stress (2013-2014):

Mode of instruction

  • Three lectures

  • student presentations and discussion (6 sessions)

  • individual feedback on draft of presentation and draft of paper
    Full attendance is mandatory.

Assessment method

Assessment is based on: oral presentation (40% of the grade), individual paper (50% of the grade), attendance and active participation (10% of the grade). Note: both the presentation and the paper should be minimally graded 6 to pass the course.

From January 1, 2006 the Faculty of Social Sciences has instituted the Ephorus system to be used by instructors for the systematic detection of plagiarism in students’ written work. Please see the information concerning fraud .


Information on

Reading list

  • Leka, S. & Houdmont, J. (Eds.) Occupational Health Psychology. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. (note: this book will also be used in the course ’Interventions in Occupational Health’)

Further readings will be announced via Blackboard. Exemplary literature includes:

  • Bakker, A.B., Schaufeli, W.B., Leiter, M.P., & Taris, T.W. (2008). Work engagement: An emerging concept in occupational health psychology. Work and Stress, 22, 187-200.

  • Chandola, T., Britton, A., Brunner, E., Hemingway, H., Malik, M., Kumari, M., Badrick, E., Kivimaki, M., & Marmot, M. (2008). Work stress and coronary heart disease: what are the mechanisms? European Heart Journal, 29, 640-648.

  • Elovainio, M, Kivimaki, M, & Vahtera, J. (2002). Organizational justice: Evidence of a new psychosocial predictor of health. American Journal of Public Health, 92, 105-108.

  • Muecke, S. (2005). Effects of rotating night shifts: Literature review. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 50, 433-439.

  • Salin, D. (2003). Ways of explaining workplace bullying: A review of enabling, motivating and precipitating structures and processes in the work environment. Human Relations, 56, 1213-1232.

  • Silverstein, M. (2008). Meeting the challenges of an aging workforce. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 51(4), 269-280.

  • Sonnentag, S. & Frese, M. (2003). Stress in organizations. In W.C. Borman, D.R. Ilgen, & R.J. Klimoski (Eds.), Handbook of Psychology (Vol. 12: Industrial and Organizational Psychology, pp. 453-491). London: Wiley.

  • Van Steenbergen, E., & Ellemers, N. (2009). Is managing the work-family interface worthwhile? Benefits for employee health and performance. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30, 617-642.


Course enrolment

Students need to enrol for the course via uSis on the master’s introduction and course enrolment day that takes place at the start of each semester. Please, consult the master’s agenda Psychology.

Contact information

Dr. M. van der Doef
Room 2B29
Tel.: +31 (0)71 527 3987