Psychology is the key to understanding and modifying human behaviour and development. Our master covers a very wide range of areas, offers 10 tracks and a lot of room for your individual preferences.
I previously did not know a field that combined environmental studies and sustainability with psychology
My name is Annika Handreke, 24, and I started studying the master's track Environmental Psychology in September 2017. When I heard about the track Environmental Psychology in Groningen, I was immediately intrigued and excited, as I previously did not know a field that combined environmental studies and sustainability with psychology. Especially the question why people still act the ways they do (such as eating a lot of animal products) even though they know that it harms the environment, was something that I really wanted to understand better.
I think the courses are a nice mix of more research-oriented subjects, where we learn to critically think about theories and how to advance them, and subjects with a strong practical focus. Course subjects range from giving a broad overview of environmental psychology towards examining practical and theoretical problems in great depth. All courses are designed to be very engaging and interactive, which challenges you to think along and not only to listen.
In the future, I would like to work as an advisor on environmental issues, for an NGO, company, or the government. I am looking forward to using my knowledge of psychology to advise decision makers on how to effectively raise awareness about environmental problems and solutions, and on how to better implement interventions towards sustainability. My dream would be to work for an organization that raises awareness about the multiple environmental problems related to livestock and tries to promote ways to change people’s eating habits (at least a little bit).
This programme addresses many of the aspects of the science of psychology
I come from Greece, but my mother is Dutch and I have fond memories of visiting the Netherlands in the summer. That's why I decided to study in the Netherlands. When I started the programme, back in 2009, the University of Groningen was the only Dutch university to offer English-taught Psychology programmes, so Groningen it was.
Groningen is a beautiful city! I like that it's small: you can
walk almost everywhere and it has an intimate feel to it. And as
there are so many students it almost feels like you're living in
one big university. All in all it's a very pleasant place to live
The master's programme in Theory and History of Psychology is interesting because it's so broad and varied, and addresses many of the aspects of the science of psychology that I really like to get stuck into, both historical and theoretical. You are also given the freedom to focus on those aspects that interest you. It's a great programme in terms of learning to think critically, and it really improves your writing skills.
There are only four people in our class, but we have a great
connection. We enjoy each other's company and get along really well
with each other. Plus we get the personal attention we need from
I hope to find a PhD position after I'm done with my master's. I would like to look at psychology and psychotherapy from the public's point of view: how do people perceive therapists and counselling, how do they form opinions about them and how have these opinions changed in recent years? I'm not sure where I'll be able to do my research, but I would love to do it here at the University of Groningen!
We learn a lot about how to recognize talent and creativity
After I finished my Bachelor's degree in Psychology at Leiden University, I wasn't sure which Master's degree I wanted to do and I decided to first travel for a year.
During my trip, I found out that I really wanted to learn more about creativity, but when I started looking for master's degree programmes on that topic I only found programmes in the US and Scotland. Then I stumbled upon the master's track Talent Development and Creativity in Groningen. It seemed very interesting and it is the only master's programme in the Netherlands that really focuses on creativity. I finally submitted my application during my yoga teacher training in Nepal.
We learn a lot about how to recognize talent and creativity and how to encourage people. I'm very interested in coaching. We have a course in which we learn coaching techniques by practising on each other and then actually applying them in practice.
I still live in Leiden. After being away for a year, I wanted to be near my family and friends. I travel back and forth – fortunately, there is a direct train – and sometimes I stay overnight with my uncle.
This is a great opportunity to really get to know what scientific research involves
As an international student at the University of Groningen (RUG) I felt welcomed and supported throughout the academic year. The international office with its professional staff has guided me to complete all the necessary procedures. The university student desk is always ready to help students with all the academic and personal necessities. The only thing you need to do is to ask for help and the university staff will do their best for you. The student is the center of attention.
I had an exceptional academic experience with lots of challenges and excitement at the RUG. I had attended high standard courses, supervised by the best researchers in their respective fields. Apart from their professionalism they are passionate and inspiring. Faculty members are accessible and willing to give students advice about their study related questions and concerns. The master's programme is structured in a way that allows students to select the courses that best suit to their interest. Lectures are given in an interactive format, meaning active participation is expected. There is a strong focus on research skills (statistics, writing, presenting), combined with learning how to conduct high-quality research or policy advice. This is a great opportunity to really get to know what scientific research involves. The perfect combination of theory, skills and practice will thoroughly prepare students for a job in the scientific world. The things you learn throughout the program will certainly allow you to successfully pursue a job outside of the academic world.
The University also offers extracurricular courses and social events that make the whole experience even more exciting. The extracurricular courses aren’t restricted to the faculty members only, for example, I attended an extracurricular course on social entrepreneurship offered by the faculty of economics and business. If you are enthusiastic and motivated, the University of Groningen is a great match for you!
Studying and living in Groningen is a life experience. Alongside a wide range of study programs, Groningen is considered to be one of the youngest cities in the Netherlands. Therefore, this beautiful city offers lots of activities for young people. Starting from the sports activities to the art classes organized by the student associations, you will have a chance to meet up with the diverse mix of students from all around the world.
Dutch people are very nice and friendly towards foreigners, almost everybody speaks perfect English and not knowing Dutch is not an issue to communicate but it is always possible and encouraged to take a free course in the Dutch language offered by the University.
To conclude, the learning process was even more than I ever expected could be possible. Based on this, I would fully recommend the University of Groningen to anyone who wants to get an outstanding education in a nice atmosphere.
Natia Ubilava is from Georgia and moved to Groningen to study psychology at a master's level, at the faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Natia has a government scholarship to pursue her degree at RUG. Upon completion of her studies, Natia will return to Georgia to work for the public sector. Natia will also pursue a career in social psychology at the Tbilisi State University at a doctorate level.
Marieke Pijnenborg - associate professor Clinical Psychology & Experimental Psychopathology
I teach the course units 'Evidence-based interventions' and 'Diagnostic models and strategies' on the Clinical Psychology Track. Although I work for the departments of Clinical Psychology and Experimental Psychopathology, my research lies somewhere between the departments of Clinical Neuropsychology and Clinical Psychology. I feel at home in both fields.
My particular expertise is in psychotic disorders. Psychoses are extremely interesting. They create a very unique clinical picture, with many different manifestations and affecting many different types of people. It is fascinating to see how the brain can fool itself. People believe unimaginable things that other people cannot understand or see, regardless of contradictions or external proof. The next question is how best to help these people return to functioning in society. Increasing social participation and counteracting stigmatization are thus my most important objectives.
Psychology is a branch of science that is very close to daily life. Psychologists study day-to-day social processes. The main attraction of clinical psychology is to make a difference for other people. Curiosity is a major factor – curiosity about the causes of problematic behaviour and the motivation to find out how to best treat these problems.
The Clinical Psychology Track has a lot to offer prospective students. For example, we look at scientific themes from a clinical practice point of view, while at the same time paying attention to innovations in care. We also conduct experimental research to see which processes lie behind certain forms of psychopathology. The expertise of the lecturers is very varied – we have a lot of knowledge from many different domains.
Eric Rietzschel - assistant professor Work, Organizational and Personnel Psychology
My name is Eric Rietzschel and I am Assistant Professor in the Master's degree programme Work, Organizational and Personnel Psychology, where I teach Creativity and Innovation in Organizations. I coordinate this Master's track together with Susanne Scheibe.
The field I work in covers pretty much anything that people think, feel and do, applied to organizations and often in the workplace, but not necessarily so; it can also apply to cooperation within a club or association. Everything that plays a role in psychology — personality, skills and emotions— can be related to this. What I like about my field is that it gives you the space to study everything that you find interesting about people but at the same time provides a clear context to guide you. It goes beyond random thinking about people but instead focuses on people in a specific setting.
Another feature of the programme is diversity, both in terms of subjects and lecturers. Students have the opportunity to ‘direct’ their own Master’s programme by choosing the subjects and lecturers that they find interesting. Students can create their own profile, as it were, whether they are interested in staff selection, innovation, coaching or something else.
I am also very enthusiastic about the combination of theory and practice; this field gives you a clear view of what practice is or can be. This way we can teach students how theory has immediate implications for practice.
Nina Hansen - Associate professor of Social Psychology
One of the courses I teach is called “Personal, Social and Cultural Change”. It's a course where students really have to get their hands dirty. They learn to analyze human behavior based on psychological theories, and how to evaluate and improve interventions which aim to change people's behavior.
Another course I teach is “Current topics of intergroup relations in society”, which is a very interactive class. I ask students to present and analyze recent developments in intergroup relations from their own cultures based on social psychological theories they learn in class. This year we have analyzed the rhetoric of Donald Trump, after he was elected and discussed the potential psychological consequences for international relations when only focusing on “America first”Each year we discuss different recent developments in intergroup relations from nations around the world, depending on what the students want to analyze.
One of the project I am currently investigating with my students is a project on the psychological impacts of offering micro loans to marginalized people living in the global South. The majority of loans are given to women to empower them and help them to move out of the vicious circle of poverty. Recent research shows that providing loans does not always lead to the envisioned positive outcomes but may also trigger negative side effects such as an increase in domestic violence. As social psychologists, we try to find out why and how these negative side effects could be avoided. From a psychological perspective, the domestic violence is actually not that surprising: Offering small loans to women is intervening in the distribution of power in a household, in this specific case in the gendered power relation between husband and wife. More precisely, women who receive these loans are often living in patriarchal cultures. Men might feel excluded from these programs and might be skeptical about these. To retain their power hey may restrict their wives. I am interested in how microfinance programs could be improved to avoid such negative side effects and empower women. Together with a PhD student, we have investigated whether and how involving both women and their husbands to some training sessions may help to overcome the negative side effects and help to strengthen the position of women. Social psychology can offer important insights to carefully analyze and develop suitable interventions to improve current practice. Offering micro loans to women does not only intervene in the financial situation of women, but also in their social relations at home.
I think the RUG is a unique place to study social psychology. In the social psychology program, staff members offer a large range of different topics and do research with different societal actors such as companies, organizations, and governments. Students can design their masters based on their own interest for example by focusing on communication and consumer psychology, health psychology, cultural psychology, or understanding groups and diversity. They can choose an individual master thesis project from a variety of research topics bridging society and academia. Students learn how to analyze human behaviour and apply their theoretical and methodological knowledge, an important preparation for the job market. The classes are small and interaction is intense.
Marieke Timmerman – Professor of multivariate data analysis
My name is Marieke Timmerman and I am professor of multivariate data analysis in the Master's degree programme in Psychology at the University of Groningen. I am also director of the Graduate School of Behavioural and Social Sciences.
What I find so fascinating about my field is that good use of statistical methods provides genuine insight into the reality underlying empirical data. Numerous statistical models can be used to analyse complex data. It's a great challenge to find the models best suited to uncovering more than first meets the eye. This requires close collaboration between statisticians and researchers.
I teach Test Construction and Repeated Measures in the Master's programme. Every student of the psychology Master's must take a methods course unit, and these are two of the course units they can choose. Test Construction concerns the proper design of psychological tests and the statistical methods which can be used to measure the quality of such tests. Repeated Measures concerns the statistical analysis of data collected from large numbers of people at various times.
The role of statistics in the Master's degree programme depends on a student's particular interests. For example, a student wanting to learn to apply more advanced statistical methods to research involving repeated measurements will find the Repeated Measures course unit useful. A student wanting to learn about the differences in the quality of psychological tests and the consequences of using these tests, will enjoy Test Construction.
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