Positive Behaviour Support

Positive Behaviour Support - PDip, MSc

2019

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.

2019

Overview

Benefits include academic and professional support from some of the UK's leading positive behaviour support 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.

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.

Pass rate data are not published for sequences with fewer than six first-time candidates in a single year or for sequences within their first four years of operation.

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

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.

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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20

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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20
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

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.

Programme aims

  • Develop a critical understanding of concepts and principles of positive behaviour support.
  • Encourage values and evidence based, ethically stringent, advanced practice or research in positive behaviour support.
  • Provide graduates with in-depth knowledge of intellectual and developmental disabilities and experience of practice or conducting research in this field.
  • Produce graduates whose critical understanding, in-depth knowledge and advanced practice/research skills equip them to play a leading role in public services for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • Provide a programme of study capable of being certified as approved coursework for Board Certified Behaviour Analyst status by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

  • Critical understanding of concepts and principles of positive behaviour support
  • In-depth knowledge of values and ethical principles and how to apply these in professional practice
  • Advanced knowledge of methods of observing, recording and analysing behaviour
  • Advanced and in-depth knowledge of methods of assessing and intervening to manage challenging behaviour and support adaptive behaviour
  • Practical understanding of cognitive, communicative and social characteristics of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities whose behaviour is described as challenging and the impact of these characteristics on assessment of challenging behaviour
  • In-depth knowledge and critical appreciation of biological, social and environmental causes of challenging behaviour in intellectual/developmental disability
  • Advanced knowledge of methods of applying positive behaviour support practices in working with individuals whose behaviour is described as challenging
  • Advanced knowledge of use of positive behaviour support to understand, assess and intervene in systems/settings for people who have intellectual/developmental disabilities (e.g. schools, residential settings, families, communities, workplaces etc.)
  • Critical understanding of research methodology and basic statistical analysis

Intellectual skills

  • In-depth review and critical discussion of literature at the forefront of the discipline
  • Critical analysis of data with particular reference to issues of method, reliability and validity
  • Interpretation of data in the light of in-depth appreciation of theoretical and methodological considerations
  • Presentation of critical, balanced and conceptually-informed arguments
  • Critical conception, design, analysis and interpretation of primary or secondary research investigations (where following the research route)
  • Design of interventions informed by in-depth assessment and advanced, theoretical understanding (where following the practice route)

Subject-specific skills

  • Conduct primary or secondary research on a positive behaviour support topic relevant to intellectual/developmental disability (where following the research route)
  • Design interventions for people with intellectual/developmental disability (and their carers/families/schools etc.) that are applied, behavioural, analytic, technological, conceptually systematic, effective and generalizable (where following the practice route)

Transferable skills

  • To use an advanced range of communication skills including organising information clearly, critically responding to written sources, presenting information orally.
  • To develop advanced numeracy skills enabling the sophisticated presentation of statistical materials and the integration of quantitative and qualitative information.
  • To use information technology to an advanced level to produce high quality written documents and undertake online research.
  • To work with others co-operatively on group tasks showing a good practical understanding of group functioning.
  • To be critically reflective on personal learning and organisational performance, drawing on an analysis of strengths and weaknesses to improve future practice.
  • To problem solve at an advanced level, identifying and defining problems, exploring alternative solutions and reaching reasoned judgements about appropriate ways forward.

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

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 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; IDD and challenging behaviour; offending and IDD; early intervention; autism; abuse; service quality.

View details of current research on the Tizard website.

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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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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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 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:

Positive Behaviour Support - MSc - full-time at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7500 £15700
Part-time £3750 N/A
Positive Behaviour Support - 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

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