Health and Medical Psychology (MSc)
About the programme
The major aim of the Health and Medical Psychology specialisation is to provide you with the theoretical background and professional skills required for health and medical psychology research and interventions. Health and Medical Psychology looks at how health, illness, and recovery are affected by biopsychosocial factors, such as physiological stress system responsiveness, cognitions, emotions, and behaviours, and social bonds. There is a strong focus on empowerment, so ‘what someone can do’, instead of only focusing on what the burden of a specific disease is.
We offer a very diverse programme that takes you through all the indispensable elements of Health and Medical Psychology. You can find a short summary below; for a detailed overview of this Master, please read our e-prospectus.
In the master's specialisation Health and Medical Psychology you will take four mandatory courses. Please read more information about the programme structure.
Students need to do an internship of 10 or 20 ECTS. A 10-ECTS internship has to be supplemented by two elective courses. In the mandatory internship, students gain hands-on practical experience or research experience in an area of their own interest within the domain of their master’s specialisation. As one of the final parts of their training to become a ‘scientist - practitioner’, students have to familiarize themselves with the professional activities of a psychologist, either by focusing on applying scientific insights in the field or by focusing on conducting applied or fundamental research.
An internship in a Dutch professional institution is only available for students who speak and write Dutch well enough. Internships for English speaking students in the Netherlands are very scarce. The Master specialisation can therefore not guarantee the availability of those internships. International students may do a research internship in Leiden or may look for possibilities for internships in their home country or in an English speaking country. Dutch students may also complete internships abroad. In all cases, the internship has to be approved by our internship coordinator before the start of the internship. See the e-prospectus.
Clinical Practical Internship
Students in this master specialisation can extend the standard internship (10 EC) to a Clinical Practical Internship of 20 EC if they aim to qualify for a postmaster program in Health Care Psychology. A Clinical Practical Internship comprises of performing professional skills such as diagnostics, practicing interventions, counselling or coaching of clients in Health Care Institutions. There are various ways to find a position to do an internship. Most students find an internship of their choice in the public health sector in the Netherlands or abroad.
Clinical internships of exactly 20 ECTS (560 hours) are very hard to find in The Netherlands, most institutions offer longer internships (usually, 6-8 months, 3 days/week). This may make it difficult to complete this programme within a year. We are working with regional partners to make more 20 ECTS internships available, but as of now, few are available. The advantage of these longer internships of course is that you will learn more and get more responsibilities. See the e-prospectus.
Your master's thesis will be the crown on your university education. Your thesis will enable you to go in depth on an health related topic and you may get the opportunity to obtain experience with all the phases of empirical research. Alternatively, some staff members have access to large and rich datasets, which will enable you to write a thesis without collecting new data. Staff members will offer research topics related to their own research interests, for which students can sign up. The exact topics and the participating staff varies from year to year.
Health & Medical Psychology student
At my internship I met some of the sweetest, kindest, healthiest, and most inspiring elderly out there, but I also learned how to work with people suffering from dementia. For me it was very valuable to get in contact with these patients and consider the medical setting from their point of view.
I did my research internship at the Alzheimer centre of the medical centre of the VU in Amsterdam. I joined a study looking for protective factors for Alzheimer’s disease in a 90+ population. I really enjoyed actively being involved in seeing participants and analysing the data of the study. It was very nice to actually experience research instead of just reading about it in some paper.
We use various modes of instruction to augment the learning experience:
- In the lectures the literature you have read will be applied to real life, by examples, to enhance your knowledge of the subject at hand.
- In the small (10 to 24 students, depending on your specialisation) work group sessions you'll delve deeper into the course material. There is room for discussion. Work groups sessions require active participation and attendance is therefore mandatory.
- In practical sessions you'll work on your skills. You'll gain, for example, skills in interviewing, observation and using statistical computer programmes (depending on your specialisation). Attendance is also mandatory in these practical sessions.
In the online course environment students review their peers’ assignments and prepare for examinations with online mock exams and recorded lectures.
Student support services
Perhaps you have questions about your master’s, or could use some extra help, or maybe you’d like some support of a more personal nature? At Leiden University we have people and departments who will be glad to help in any and all of these areas.
Your study adviser is an expert on all aspects of your study programme, for example exam regulations, planning, academic issues, study delay etc. With the study adviser you discuss problems of any kind relating to the studies or any personal circumstances which might trouble your study.