Applied Behaviour Analysis

Applied Behaviour Analysis - PCert, PDip, MSc

Overview

This programme seeks to develop a critical understanding of concepts and principles of applied behaviour analysis. It provides you with a detailed knowledge of intellectual and developmental disabilities and experience of practice or conducting research in this field, and is aimed at recent graduates as well as experienced practitioners.

Benefits include academic and professional support from some of the UK’s leading applied behaviour analysts and intellectual and developmental disability researchers. The programme also provides the necessary coursework to apply to sit the international examination for certification as a behaviour analyst.

BACB Verified Course Sequence Logo

Please note, the PCert cannot be studied on a part-time basis but the PDip and MSc can be studied either full-time or part-time. 

This is a Verified Course Sequence with the BACB (Behavior Analyst Certification Board)

About the Tizard Centre

The Tizard Centre is part of the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR) and has excellent links with health and social care organisations, and other relevant establishments.

The Centre is at the forefront of learning and research in autism, intellectual disability and community care, and in 2013 received a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of its outstanding work in these areas.

The Centre has strong links with health and social care organisations, and other relevant establishments. Our primary aims, through research, teaching and consultancy, are:

  • to find out more about how to effectively support and work with people with learning disabilities
  • to help carers, managers and professionals develop the values, knowledge and skills that enable better services
  • to aid policymakers, planners, managers and practitioners to organise and provide enhanced services.

The Tizard Centre is recognised as leading the field in deinstitutionalisation and community living, challenging behaviour, quality of staff support, sexuality and autism, and has had a significant impact on national policies in these areas. We are committed to addressing issues arising from social inequality.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research was ranked 2nd for research power in the UK. The School was also placed 3rd for research intensity, 5th for research impact and 5th for research quality.

An impressive 94% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 99% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research, gaining the highest possible score of 100%.

Course structure

Modules

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

Modules may include Credits

The aim of this module is to teach the basic facts about the nature and origins of autism, including definitions, epidemiology, biological, social and environmental causes. In addition, characteristics and needs of people with autism will be considered (including cognitive and social characteristics). All of this information will be set within the wider context of intellectual and developmental disabilities and students, although focusing primarily on autism, will be required to learn and know about these issues more widely. Over 50% of people with autism have a co-morbid condition and therefore this is an essential approach.

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10

The aim of this module is to develop an advanced understanding of the concepts and principles underpinning applied behaviour analysis.

Topics will include:

• Defining characteristics of applied behaviour analysis

• Operant and respondent conditioning

• Reinforcement

• Extinction and punishment

• Avoidance and escape

• Stimulus control and equivalence relations

• Establishing operations and setting events

• Verbal behaviour and private events

• Using behaviour analytic concepts to interpret complex behaviour.

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15

The aim of this module is to develop competencies in the definition, observation, recording and analysis of behaviour and its controlling variables. Topics will include:

• Observational methods of data collection

• Reliability and validity of observational data

• Practical approaches to checking and calculating reliability

• Visual representation of data

• Descriptive assessment and experimental analysis including internal and external validity

• Practical and theoretical aspects of using reversal, multiple-baseline, alternating treatments and changing criterion designs

• Visual and statistical interpretation of single case data.

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15

The aim of this module is to develop advanced understanding of the design and implementation of positive strategies to improve the social and intellectual functioning of vulnerable populations, and their support by carers and others.

Topics will include:

• Approaches to increasing behaviour

• Approaches to developing new behaviour

• Descriptive and experimental analysis of challenging behaviour

• Barriers to implementation

• Procedural reliability

• Generalisation and maintenance.

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15

The curriculum will include, at an advanced level:

• Ethical and legal issues

• Philosophical underpinnings of ethical practice

• The role of ideology in the development of intellectual disability services

• The development of approaches to individual planning and needs assessment, particularly the role of "person-centred planning"

• Ethical codes and guidelines – does Behaviour Analysis raise special ethical issues?

• Codes of professional practice

• Discrimination and abuse

• Adopting person-centred, values-based approaches to children and adults with complex needs.

• Evidence based practice and practice based evidence

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30

This module will cover advanced topics related to assessment and intervention for autism and IDD. There will be a strong emphasis on developing a critical understanding of recent research in relation to behavioural interventions. Additionally, students will participate in activities aimed at enhancing their advanced skills in identifying and developing behavioural programmes. In-depth content will be drawn from a range of the following topics, depending on availability of recent research and teaching staff:

• Skills assessments (e.g. ABLLS, VB-MAPP, AFLLS)

• Designing comprehensive behavioural programmes

• Verbal behaviour (application and intervention design)

• Applications of relational frame theory to language intervention

• Specific intervention areas in autism and IDD (e.g. sleep issues, feeding problems, toilet training, social skills, and vocational skills)

• Precision teaching

• Group contingencies (Good Behaviour Game)

• Direct instruction

• Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

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10

During the first term of the course students will develop ideas for their research project and will be given the opportunity to choose a research project proposed and supervised by members of the course team or other Tizard staff (see Appendix 4 of course handbook for the list of topics for the current year). Students who choose to design their own project will be allocated a dissertation supervisor. Students following the MSc in Analysis and Intervention in Intellectual and Developmental Disability are required to do an empirical dissertation. All other students can choose between either an empirical or a non-empirical (e.g. policy or research review) dissertation.

Students develop a proposal (assessed) for their research project with advice from their supervisor and apply for ethical approval either to the Tizard Ethics Committee (Ethical Review Checklist available on web-based resources) or to another ethics committee such as those in the NHS.

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60

The curriculum will include, at an advanced level:

• Definition and epidemiology of challenging behaviour

• Social significance and context of challenging behaviour

• Historical and policy issues and background on the development of ideas about challenging behaviour and positive behaviour support

• Causes of challenging behaviour (biological influences, functional approach, broader environmental influences)

• Assessment and formulation in relation to challenging behaviour

• Intervention for challenging behaviour (behavioural and pharmacological intervention)

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10

The curriculum will include, at an advanced level:

• Definition and epidemiology of challenging behaviour

• Social significance and context of challenging behaviour

• Historical and policy issues and background on the development of ideas about challenging behaviour and positive behaviour support

• Causes of challenging behaviour (biological influences, functional approach, broader environmental influences)

• Assessment and formulation in relation to challenging behaviour

• Intervention for challenging behaviour (behavioural and pharmacological intervention)

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10

The aim of this module is to teach students about research methodology and the knowledge needed to access and interpret the research literature. For those who take the statistical analysis element, the aim is also to teach appropriate statistical techniques for the analysis of quantitative data. The emphasis will be on methods of data collection and analysis which will be useful in practice settings, so that advanced multivariate techniques will not be taught.

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15

The aim of this module is to help students/practitioners to articulate and work within a person-centred, scientific, and appropriately ethical framework.

Topics will include:

• Ethical and legal issues

• The role of ideology in the development of intellectual disability services

• The development of approaches to individual planning and needs assessment, particularly the role of "person-centred planning"

• Ethical codes and guidelines – does Behaviour Analysis raise special ethical issues?

• Codes of professional practice

• Discrimination and abuse

• Adopting person-centred, values-based approaches to children and adults with complex needs.

Read more
15

Teaching and Assessment

Modules are assessed by examination, essay, practical assignment, video. Dissertation of 10,000 words or, for work-based learning option, 7,000-word case report and video.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • develop a critical understanding of the concepts and principles of applied behaviour analysis
  • encourage values- and evidence-based, ethically stringent practice or research in applied behaviour analysis
  • provide you with detailed knowledge of intellectual and developmental disabilities and experience of practice or conducting research in this field
  • produce graduates equipped to play a leading role in public services for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • concepts and principles of applied behaviour analysis
  • values and ethical principles underpinning professional practice
  • methods of observing, recording and analysing behaviour
  • methods of assessing and intervening to manage challenging behaviour and support adaptive behaviour
  • cognitive, communicative and social characteristics of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • biological, social and environmental causes of intellectual and developmental disability
  • challenging behaviour and other special needs
  • ideology, policy and service development
  • definition and measurement of service quality
  • the relationships between service organisation and quality
  • research methodology and basic statistical analysis.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in: 

  • the ability to review and critically discuss of literature at the forefront of the discipline
  • the ability to interpret data in the light of theoretical and methodological considerations
  • the ability to present critical, balanced and conceptually-informed arguments
  • the ability to conceive, design, analyse and interpret primary or secondary research investigations (where following the research route)
  • the ability to design interventions informed by assessment and theoretical understanding (where following the practice route).

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • how to conduct primary or secondary research on an applied behaviour analytic topic relevant to intellectual/developmental disability (where following the research route)
  • how to design interventions for people with intellectual/developmental disability (and their carers/families) that are applied, behavioural, analytic, technological, conceptually systematic, effective and generalisable (where following the practice route).

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • communication: the ability to organise information clearly, respond to written sources, present information verbally
  • numeracy: the ability to make sense of statistical materials, integrate quantitative and qualitative information
  • information technology: the ability to produce written documents, undertake online research
  • working with others: work co-operatively on group tasks, understand how groups function.
  • improve your own learning: the ability to explore your strengths and weaknesses, time management, review your working environment
  • problem-solving: the ability to identify and define complex problems, explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them.

Careers

Our postgraduate courses improve employability prospects for both those with established careers and new entrants to the field. Many of our students already work with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in professional, management or supporting capacities. Our programmes support their continuing professional development and enhance their opportunities for career advancement. Other students, who are at the beginning of their careers, move on to a range of professional roles in health and social care including working as psychologists in learning disability or behavioural specialists in community learning disability teams; service management of development roles; clinical psychology training or a PhD.

Our Applied Behaviour Analysis programme includes a course sequence approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.  Its completion, therefore, meets two of the requirements for certification as a Behaviour Analyst.  Successful students will need to obtain appropriate supervised experience and pass the BACB exam. Many of our ABA students hope to take this career path, applying their skills either in work with children or adults with autism (ie early intervention programmes or in schools using an ABA approach) or with children/adults with learning disabilities whose behaviour is described as challenging.  Every week we are asked to notify our students of opportunities in these fields.  Our ABA programme is also suitable for parents of children/adults with autism or learning disability, who are looking to increase their own understanding of ABA.

Study support

All teaching takes place at the Tizard Centre. Postgraduate research students have a shared office space with a computer and telephone.

Acclaimed active department

The Tizard Centre runs an annual seminar series where staff or guest lecturers present the results of research or highlight recent developments in the field of social care. The Jim Mansell Memorial Lecture invites public figures or distinguished academics to discuss topics that could interest a wider audience. The Centre also publishes the Tizard Learning Disability Review (in conjunction with Emerald Publishing) to provide a source of up-to-date information for professionals and carers.

The Tizard Centre provides consultancy to organisations in the statutory and independent sectors, both nationally and internationally, in diversified areas such as service assessment, person-centred approaches, active support and adult protection. The Centre also teaches a range of short courses, often in conjunction with other organisations.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Journal of Mental Health; Journal of Applied Research and Intellectual Disabilities; American Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; and Journal of Intellectual Disability Research.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Entry requirements

A first or second class honours degree in a social science discipline; voluntary, professional or family experience of children or adults with a learning disability and/or autism.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

English language entry requirements

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

Current research areas include: social inequalities and community care; intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Professor Julie Beadle-Brown: Professor in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Autism and social impairment in learning disability; the implementation of active support in services; the effect of grouping people in services; personcentred approaches; exclusion of people with challenging behaviour from services.

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Dr Jill Bradshaw: Lecturer in Learning Disability

Staff attributions; communication and personcentred active support; communication environments; total communication approaches; augmentative and alternative communication.

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Dr Mecca Chiesa: Lecturer in Learning Disability

Behaviour analysis; precision teaching; fluency building; autism and learning disabilities.

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Professor Rachel Forrester-Jones: Professor in Social Inclusion; Director of the Tizard Centre

Community care outcomes (mental health, learning disabilities); social networks and social support relating to all client groups, including university students; social inclusion; social environments; supported employment; death, bereavement and spirituality.

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Dr Nick Gore: Senior Lecturer in Learning Disability

Relational Frame Theory; acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT); challenging behaviour; supported employment.

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Dr Peter Langdon: Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology and Disability

Adapting, developing and evaluating psychological therapies for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; forensic mental health problems including sexual offending and their treatment; information processing models; use of technology in psychological therapies.

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Dr Michelle McCarthy: Reader in Learning Disability

The sexuality of people with learning disabilities, in particular women with learning disabilities, and sexual abuse; sexual and reproductive health; the menopause for women with learning disabilities.

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Professor Peter McGill: Professor of Clinical Psychology of Learning Disability

Applied behaviour analysis; challenging behaviour; positive behaviour support; family support.

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Professor Glynis Murphy: Professor of Clinical Psychology and Disability

Effectiveness of cognitive behavioural treatment for men at risk of sexual offending; effectiveness of treatment for people with untreated phenylketonuria (PKU); symptoms of abuse for people with severe learning disabilities; capacity to consent to sexual relationships; early development of self-injurious behaviour; effectiveness of early intervention in autism.

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Tony Osgood: Lecturer in Learning Disability

Positive behaviour support for challenging behaviour; behaviour analysis; person-centred planning; autism and asperger’s; organisational influence on human services outcomes.

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Dr Paraskevi Triantafyllopoulou: Lecturer in Learning Disability

Sleep functioning and sleep problems in children and adults with learning disabilities and/or autism; sleep and challenging behaviour; offending in people with learning disabilities; person-centred active support.

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Fees

The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Applied Behaviour Analysis (Intellectual and Developmental Disability) - MSc at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7300 £15200
Part-time £3650 £7600
Applied Behaviour Analysis (Intellectual and Developmental Disability) - PCert at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £2435 £5070
Part-time N/A N/A
Applied Behaviour Analysis (Intellectual and Developmental Disability) - PDip at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £4870 £10140
Part-time £2435 £5070

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

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