Applied Behaviour Analysis

Applied Behaviour Analysis - PCert, PDip, MSc

2019

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.

2019

Overview

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.

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. 

BACB Verified Course Sequence Logo

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board®, Inc. has verified these courses toward the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (Option 1) or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst® examination. Applications will need to meet additional requirements before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination

VCS pass rate data are available on the BACB website.

Applied Behaviour Analysis student Rebecca talks about her course at Kent

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.

Compulsory modules currently include Credits

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

Indicative topics include:

Philosophical assumptions including selectionism, determinism, empiricism, parsimony and pragmatism

Rule-governed and contingency-shaped behaviour

Radical behaviourism

Verbal behaviour and private events

Derived stimulus relations

Behaviour analysis of intellectual and developmental disability.

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The curriculum will include, at an advanced level:

• Behavioural intervention for challenging behaviour

• Assessment and analysis of systemic factors in relation to behaviour described as challenging and the use of setting-wide positive behaviour support

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

• Models of consulting to family and service settings

• Staff training methodologies

• Organisational behaviour analysis and management in a human service context

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20

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

Topics will include:

Approaches to increasing the frequency of behaviour

Approaches to developing new behaviour

Using assessment information to inform intervention planning

Design of behaviour support plans, instructional strategies and appropriately prosthetic environmental arrangements

Precision teaching, direct instruction and group contingencies

Barriers to implementation

Procedural reliability

Generalisation and maintenance

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20

The aim of this module is to develop competencies in the assessment of both adaptive and challenging behaviour in the repertoires of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Teaching on assessment starts from an appreciation of the importance of social validity and referral dynamics. Specific assessment strategies relating to challenging behaviour (including structured descriptive assessment and experimental functional analysis) are considered. The application of similar strategies are also considered with respect to adaptive behaviour and associated instructional technologies. Further, the curriculum includes methods of preference assessment to determine appropriate reinforcers. In all topics there is attention both to the development of practical understanding and skill and to the development of a critical appreciation of the underpinning evidence base. Following consideration of these assessment strategies, attention is given to the development of formulations of the behaviour of people with intellectual/developmental disabilities that can inform the development of behaviour support plans, instructional strategies and appropriately prosthetic environmental arrangements.

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20

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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20

The aim of this module is to develop an advanced understanding of elements and characteristics of the concepts and principles underpinning applied behaviour analysis (ABA). The module will start from an appreciation of the roots of ABA in the experimental analysis of behaviour. Operant and respondent conditioning will be considered, starting from fundamentals but proceeding to an advanced understanding of the necessary concepts and their underpinning in research. Particular attention will be given to elucidating both the conceptual basis and the applied implications of reinforcement, extinction and punishment, avoidance and escape, stimulus control and generalization, establishing operations and setting events. The interpretation of complex behaviour will be considered both with respect to the integrated application of fundamental concepts and the conceptual extensions and developments required.

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20

This module engages with social norms, policies, politics and procedures that affect some of the world's most vulnerable people, their membership in society and access to health and social care.

Looking at provision and access to care in a variety of (international) settings, this module examines the approaches to developmental and intellectual disabilities, health and illness in a variety of (international and social) settings. Examining the challenges to implementation of such policies will be one component of the module.

Drawing on different theoretical approaches, the module will look at the policies and politics of health care in, for instance, rural vs urban settings, highly developed vs developing countries, as well as addressing questions of inequality. It will also take different cultural approaches to disease, illness, mental illness and developmental/ intellectual disabilities into account, including differing belief systems. The question of health and social care, including palliative care, as a human right will be raised.

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Optional modules may include Credits

During the first term of the course students will develop ideas for their dissertation and will be given the opportunity to choose an empirical or non-empirical research project proposed and supervised by members of the course team or other Tizard staff. Subject to staff agreement, students may choose to design their own project and will be allocated a project supervisor. Students may complete either an empirical or a non-empirical (e.g. policy or research review) project. Students are expected to complete a dissertation on a topic relevant to their degree title.

Students develop a proposal for their dissertation with advice from their supervisor and, where applicable, 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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40

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, professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country.  Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

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 Nick Gore: Senior Lecturer in Learning Disability

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

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Professor Peter Langdon: Professor of Clinical and Forensic Psychology

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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Serena Tomlinson: Lecturer in ABA/PBS (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities)

Early intervention and prevention for challenging behaviour in children with intellectual disabilities / developmental disabilities (IDD); education for children with IDD; socioemotional support for family carers; the use of ABA and PBS in the UK.

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Dr Peter Baker: Senior Lecturer in Learning Disability

Challenging behaviour, positive behavioural support, applied behavioural analysis, staff support, community participation. 

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Dr Ciara Padden: Lecturer in Learning Disability

Applied behaviour analysis; positive behaviour support; skill teaching; challenging behaviour; family wellbeing; family/staff training.

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Dr Magali Barnoux: Lecturer in Forensic Psychology and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Offenders with IDD (aetiology, risk and rehabilitation); staff in the Criminal Justice System working with offenders with IDD; Mental health; animal assisted interventions.

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Fees

The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Applied Behaviour Analysis (Intellectual and Developmental Disability) - MSc at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7500 £15700
Part-time £3750 N/A
Applied Behaviour Analysis (Intellectual and Developmental Disability) - PCert at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £2500 £5234
Part-time N/A N/A
Applied Behaviour Analysis (Intellectual and Developmental Disability) - PDip at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £5000 £10467
Part-time £2500 N/A

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 general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both: