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Experimental Clinical Psychology


Entry requirements

Only open to master’s students in Psychology with specialisation Clinical Psychology.


Clinical psychological research is often concerned with investigating the causes and treatment of abnormal behaviour. A range of observational study designs, both cross-sectional and longitudinal, can be used to identify causes of illness. Treatment evaluation designs range from case reports to randomized clinical trials (RCTs). RCTs have become the gold standard of evidence in biomedical research. However, the vast majority of studies is observational. Furthermore, it has been argued that RCTs are impractical in some circumstances, and impossible in others.

In this course we will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of cohort studies, case-control studies and cross-sectional studies for investigating causal relationships. Secondly, we will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of different treatment evaluation designs, as well as the standards of conducting and reporting this research.

Course objectives

Students learn:

  • To reflect upon the strengths and weaknesses of research designs typically used in clinical psychology;

  • To critically assess research papers on the merits of their chosen research strategies, design, ethical aspects, and adherence to reporting standards; and

  • To assess relevance of research papers for possible integration in clinical practice.


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

Semester 1: Lectures Work group sessions

Semester 2: Lectures Work group sessions Exams



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


Students are not automatically enrolled for an examination. They can register via uSis from 100 to 10 calendar days before the date. Students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the examination.
Registering for exams

Mode of instruction

6 two-hour lectures and 6 two-hour seminars, 100% attendance of seminars is mandatory.

Assessment method

Final grade is based on:

  • 5 graded assignments (40%)

  • grade for participation during seminars (15%)

  • final exam (essay questions) (45%)

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has instituted that instructors use a software programme for the systematic detection of plagiarism in students’ written work. In case of fraud disciplinary actions will be taken. Please see the information concerning fraud.

Reading list

Kazdin, Alan E. (2017). Research Design in Clinical Psychology, Books a la Carte Edition, 5th Edition. New York: Pearson ISBN13: 9780205992089 (NB: this book has been changed and updated significantly compared to the 4th edition, which we have used so far for this course. So please purchase the 5th edition. Note that the correct price for this book is around €60; do not buy it for a much higher price.

Furthermore, assignment papers will be made available through links in Blackboard:

Contact information

Dr. Julia F. van den Berg