This programme seeks to develop a critical understanding of concepts and principles underpinning positive behaviour support. 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.
We welcome applications from applicants who have obtained at least a Second Class Honours degree including all the required examinations at a university in the United Kingdom or at another approved university.
Mature applicants without a degree are asked to provide evidence of their ability to complete a postgraduate programme successfully, and are eligible to enter the programme following the completion of an assessed task.
We encourage international applicants with the relevant academic/professional background and competence in spoken and written English. However, we require them to have some experience of UK services. We also require applicants to have 7.5 IELTS, minimum 6.5 in any element or equivalent in other tests.
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, international fee-paying students cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.
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.
Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time
This programme is studied over one year full-time or two years part-time, students being co-taught. Study on the programme is divided into a number of blocks called modules taught through workshops in each year. Academic modules carry 10-30 credits. One credit corresponds to approximately 10 hours of “learning time” so that each module represents approximately 100-300 hours of student learning, endeavour and assessment. Almost a quarter of these hours involve direct teaching (via Kent Player where taking a module by distance learning). The programme provides opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills and other attributes in the following areas.
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.
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
Verbal behaviour and private events
Derived stimulus relations
Behaviour analysis of intellectual and developmental disability.
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
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
Generalisation and maintenance
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Teaching includes lectures, guided study using Moodle, with seminars and group exercises to enhance understanding of the underlying concepts. Knowledge of the various topics is assessed by unseen examinations. Understanding is assessed by a mixture of essays and assignments in which students have to apply the concepts covered to practical topics.
Where modules are taken by distance learning, lectures are captured using Kent Player and made available via Moodle and more Moodle-based activities are undertaken.
The 2020/21 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
Positive Behaviour Support - MSc - part-time at Canterbury
Positive Behaviour Support - PDip at Canterbury
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.
Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:
In The Complete University Guide 2020, 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 2020 for more information.
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%.
Current research areas include: social inequalities and community care; IDD and challenging behaviour; offending and IDD; early intervention; autism; abuse; service quality.
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
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.View Profile
Staff attributions; communication and personcentred active support; communication environments; total communication approaches; augmentative and alternative communication.View Profile
Relational Frame Theory; acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT); challenging behaviour; supported employment.View Profile
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.
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.View Profile
Applied behaviour analysis; challenging behaviour; positive behaviour support; family support.View Profile
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.View Profile
Positive behaviour support for challenging behaviour; behaviour analysis; person-centred planning; autism and asperger’s; organisational influence on human services outcomes.
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.View Profile
Applied behaviour analysis; positive behaviour support; skill teaching; challenging behaviour; family wellbeing; family/staff training.View Profile
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.View Profile
Challenging behaviour, positive behavioural support, applied behavioural analysis, staff support, community participation.View Profile
Offenders with IDD (aetiology, risk and rehabilitation); staff in the Criminal Justice System working with offenders with IDD; Mental health; animal assisted interventions.View Profile
All teaching takes place at the Tizard Centre. Postgraduate research students have a shared office space with a computer and telephone.
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.
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.
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.
Learn more about the applications process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.
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