Applied Behaviour Analysis

Applied Behaviour Analysis (Intellectual and Developmental Disability) - PCert, PDip, MSc

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.

Overview

Deadline for Tizard Postgraduate Taught Applications for entry in September: 1 JULY

Due to a high number of applicants we have been forced to put in place a deadline for receipt of applications for those wishing to be considered for entry to September intake.

Please therefore ensure that your full application (containing reference, all required documentation and evidence of English Language qualifications if relevant) is submitted online via the “Apply Now” link no later than 23:59 BST on 1 July.

Incomplete applications, or applications received after 1 July, will be considered for next year's September cohort.

BACB Announcement

Please read this important document regarding the recent BACB announcement.

Programme

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.

ABAI Verified Course Sequence for Fifth Edition Task List

ABAI Verified Course Sequences Certified Programme

The Association for Behaviour Analysis International has verified the following courses towards the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® or Board Assistant Behavior Analyst® examination. Applicants will need to meet additional requirements before they can be deemed eligible to take the examination.

VCS pass rate data for the fourth edition task list (2018) 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.

The most useful aspect of the course is listening to the academics who are pioneers in the field.

Brittany Chan - Applied Behaviour Analysis MSc

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.

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Some typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice.

If you are an international student, visit our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country, including details of the International Foundation Programmes.

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.

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Course structure

Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time

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

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.

Find out more about TZ900

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

Find out more about TZ901

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

Find out more about TZ902

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

Find out more about TZ903

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

Find out more about TZ904

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.

Find out more about TZ905

The aim of this module is to develop competencies in the definition, observation, recording and analysis of behaviour and its controlling variables. While the module provides an introduction to research methodology more generally, the focus is primarily on those data collection methods and experimental designs used in applied behaviour analysis. 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

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

Comparative, component and parametric analyses.

Find out more about TZ907

Optional modules may include

Learning and teaching will focus on consolidating the knowledge and skills developed through taught modules, and supporting application of learning to applied behaviour analytic practice in the workplace or comparable environment. Students will receive supervision to undertake assessment and intervention with individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. In the course of group and/or individual supervision sessions they will be expected to apply knowledge from taught modules to the specific individuals or circumstances with which they are working. They will be directed to academic and professional literature of specific relevance to their individual work and they will be encouraged to behave professionally and ethically both in their practice and in their interactions with other developing professionals in supervision sessions.

Find out more about TZ8000

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.

Find out more about TZ889

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.

Fees

The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Applied Behaviour Analysis (Intellectual and Developmental Disability) - PCert at Canterbury

  • Home full-time £2700
  • EU full-time TBC
  • International full-time £5600
  • Home part-time N/A
  • EU part-time TBC
  • International part-time N/A

Applied Behaviour Analysis (Intellectual and Developmental Disability) - MSc at Canterbury

  • Home full-time £8100
  • EU full-time £12600
  • International full-time £16800
  • Home part-time £4050
  • EU part-time N/A
  • International part-time N/A

Applied Behaviour Analysis (Intellectual and Developmental Disability) - PDip at Canterbury

  • Home full-time £5400
  • EU full-time TBC
  • International full-time £11200
  • Home part-time £2700
  • EU part-time TBC
  • International part-time N/A

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

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.

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Additional costs

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:

The Complete University Guide

In The Complete University Guide 2021, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 10 for research intensity. This is a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the university.

Please see the University League Tables 2021 for more information.

Complete University Guide Research Intensity

Independent rankings

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%.

Research areas

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

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.  

Contact us

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United Kingdom/EU enquiries

PCert at Canterbury

MSc at Canterbury

PDip at Canterbury

Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 768896

E: information@kent.ac.uk

Subject enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 827958
E: sspssr-pg-admin@kent.ac.uk

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International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254
E: internationalstudent@kent.ac.uk