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.
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.
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%.
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.
|Modules may include||Credits|
TZ830 - Research Methods
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.Read more
TZ869 - Concepts of Applied Behaviour Analysis
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
• 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.Read more
TZ870 - Functional Assessment & Analysis of Challenging Behaviour
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.Read more
TZ871 - Developing and implementing interventions
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.Read more
TZ878 - Advanced Issues in Values, Ethics and Professional Practice
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 evidenceRead more
TZ880 - Challenging Behaviour & Positive Behaviour Support
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)Read more
TZ886 - Positive Behaviour Support-Working with Systems
Generally, challenging behaviour is treated as an individual, health-related problem requiring intervention by psychologists, psychiatrists or other behaviour support professionals. But there is a significant literature documenting the difficulties of achieving individual change, leading to a focus on the importance of understanding and changing the systems within which challenging behaviour arises. For example, the problems of difficult behaviour presented in schools have been recognised as requiring a broader approach, more focused on understanding and intervening in the systemic context. The development of school wide positive behaviour support in the USA reflects this kind of approach though, as yet, there has been little attention to the potential for a similar approach in adult social care settings. The curriculum in the current module will include, at an advanced level, consideration of the knowledge and critical understanding required to embed positive behaviour support in human service organisations. In particular, this will include coverage of:
• Current and historical service models and systems of support for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities whose behaviour is described as challenging
• The role of systemic factors in the causation of behaviour described as challenging
• Assessment and analysis of systemic factors in relation to behaviour described as challenging
• System-wide interventions for challenging behaviour
• Models of consulting to family and service settings
• Staff training methodologiesRead more
TZ887 - Work-Based Learning in Positive Behaviour Support
Learning and teaching will focus on consolidating the knowledge and skills developed through taught modules, and supporting application of learning to positive behaviour support practice in the workplace or comparable environment. Students will receive supervision to undertake assessment and intervention with individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities and/or with staff, carers or organisations that support such individuals. In the course of both group and 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 group supervision sessions.Read more
TZ994 - Research Project in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
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.Read more
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.
- 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.
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
- 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)
- 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)
- 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.
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.
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 when considering applications.
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.
Current research areas include: social inequalities and community care; IDD and challenging behaviour; offending and IDD; early intervention; autism; abuse; service quality.
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.View Profile
Dr Jill Bradshaw: Lecturer in Learning Disability
Staff attributions; communication and personcentred active support; communication environments; total communication approaches; augmentative and alternative communication.View Profile
Dr Nick Gore: Senior Lecturer in Learning Disability
Relational Frame Theory; acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT); challenging behaviour; supported employment.View Profile
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.View Profile
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.View Profile
Professor Peter McGill: Professor of Clinical Psychology of Learning Disability
Applied behaviour analysis; challenging behaviour; positive behaviour support; family support.View Profile
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.View Profile
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.View Profile
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.View Profile
Dr Ciara Padden: Lecturer in Learning Disability
Applied behaviour analysis; positive behaviour support; skill teaching; challenging behaviour; family wellbeing; family/staff training.View Profile
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.View Profile
Dr Peter Baker: Senior Lecturer in Learning Disability
Challenging behaviour, positive behavioural support, applied behavioural analysis, staff support, community participation.View Profile
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.View Profile
The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
|Positive Behaviour Support - MSc - full-time at Canterbury:|
|Positive Behaviour Support - PDip at Canterbury:|
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
General additional costs
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: