Positive Behaviour Support

Positive Behaviour Support - Diploma

UCAS code L591

This is an archived page and for reference purposes only


Do you work or live with children or adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, including autism, whose behaviour challenges others? The Diploma in Positive Behaviour Support gives you an insight into the causes and influences of challenging behaviour and teaches you how to provide effective, person-centred support.


This programme produces graduates competent in functional assessment and the co-production of positive behaviour support strategies. Graduates are able to take up employment in education and adult services in specialist and leadership roles.

The Diploma in Positive Behaviour Support will attract parents, teachers and health professionals, social care specialists, support workers, service managers and those eager to further both their knowledge and practice, and career opportunities.

You can discuss options to ‘upgrade’ from the Diploma in Positive Behaviour Support to the BSc in Positive Behaviour Support with your tutor during your studies.

The Tizard Centre is at the forefront of learning and research in autism, intellectual and developmental disability and community care. In 2013 it received a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of its outstanding work in these areas.

Teaching Excellence Framework

All University of Kent courses are regulated by the Office for Students.

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.

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Course structure

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  

Teaching and assessment

The Diploma is an evidence-based programme with the emphasis on practice. Students are practitioners working with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities and bring their own knowledge and experience to the programme. This is valued by the teaching team and influences the teaching methods used.

The Diploma is taught in workshops over 1 year. Between the workshops students engage in work-based learning in their places of employment.

Teaching methods include mini-lectures, individual and group exercises some with the use of video feedback. Exercises vary in length in some cases being guided practice ‘simulations’ spread over several hours. There are exercises involving local services and people with intellectual disabilities. Critical analysis of published papers and reviews of the literature relevant to practice are used to critically explore the evidence base.

Assessment of knowledge and understanding is by written reports on the application of that knowledge in practice and multiple- choice examinations. Students complete a personal portfolio documenting their learning and reflection on the learning process.

Contact Hours

For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours.  The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • Encourage a critical understanding amongst practitioners of the factors underlying challenging behaviour.
  • Develop the skills of practitioners in conducting individualised, functionally-based assessments of challenging behaviour and developing interventions.
  • Prepare practitioners to take a local leadership role in implementing and evaluating behaviour support plans.

The Diploma is Level I of a BSc (Hons) in Intellectual and Developmental Disability. The aims of this overarching programme are as follows:

  • Prepare practitioners to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities using a behavioural approach integrated with an “ordinary life” philosophy.
  • Enable students to work in constructive, non-aversive and ethically sound ways with people who are often marginalized and vulnerable.
  • Develop a critical understanding of the key theories applicable to Applied Behaviour Analysis and Ordinary Living.
  • Provide a sound knowledge base and develop analytical skills which can be applied to the provision of evidence based practice.
  • Provide opportunities to develop the personal, communication and problem solving skills appropriate to fulfilling specialist roles within the care sector and which are transferable to other areas of employment. 
  • Encourage the participation in Higher Education of people from a wide variety of backgrounds some of whom may not have ‘traditionally’ recognised qualifications.
  • Promote a shared understanding of the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities across statutory, private and voluntary agencies in the care sector.
  • Support the development of appropriate services for people with intellectual and developmental disability and challenging behaviour by preparing students to fulfil the need for specialist workers nationally and in a key sector of the regional economy in the South East.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • Social Role Valorisation, Ordinary Living and Person Centred approaches as a value base for the provision of services.
  • Behavioural learning theory, its use in skills teaching and service organisation.
  • Scientific method and its application to evidence based practice.
  • Scientific method as the basis for the critical analysis of research material. 
  • The collection, analysis and interpretation of quantitative and qualitative data relating to quality of life and challenging behaviour.
  • Needs assessment within a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency framework
  • The communication partnership and the development of effective communication strategies with individuals.
  • Applied Behaviour Analysis as a way of understanding the development and maintenance of challenging behaviour in the context in which it occurs.
  • The development of multi-element intervention plans.
  • Organisational psychology related to theories of change, motivation and successful intervention with the individual, carers and organisations.

Intellectual skills

You gain the following intellectual abilities:

  • The ability to critically analyse available data in relation to issues of method, reliability and validity.
  • The ability to cross reference data from various sources to draw conclusions on people’s needs and factors influencing their behaviour.
  • The ability to interpret available data and make arguments recognising alternative interpretations and limitations in the data or its method of collection.
  • The ability to use assessment information to develop strategies for problem solving and improving people’s quality of life.

Subject-specific skills

You gain the following subject-specific skills:

  • The selection and use of a range of recognised assessment tools relating to needs assessment, communication, participation, skills development and the functional analysis of behaviour.
  • The development and application of intervention plans relating to the development of communication, participation and skills for people with learning disabilities.
  • The development and application of intervention plans for the management and replacement of challenging behaviour.
  • The use of recognised strategies and techniques to support the provision of high quality care within services including Active Support and Periodic Service Review.

Transferable skills

You gain transferable skills in the following:

  • Communication: Communicate ideas and arguments to others, both in written and spoken form; Make short presentations to fellow students and staff; Prepare written assignments and reference the materials referred to in accordance with accepted conventions.
  • Working with others: Develop interpersonal and team work skills to enable them to work collaboratively, negotiate, listen and deliver results.
  • Improving own learning: Be reflective, adaptive and collaborative in their learning; Explore personal strengths and weaknesses; time management; Review working environment; Develop skills in time management by delivering academic work on time and to the required standard.
  • Problem solving: Identify and define problems; Explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them.
  • Information Technology: Produce written documents; Undertake online research; Study and learn independently using library and internet sources.
  • Numeracy: use descriptive statistics in the analysis of quantitative data; represent data visually.


This practice-based programme provides you with the knowledge and skills that appeal to employers such as the NHS, local authority adults' and children's services, schools and the voluntary and private social and healthcare sector.  

You will be supported to develop transferable skills such as planning and organisation, teamwork and leadership, as well as grasping the fundamental values underpinning progressive behavioural support.

Entry requirements

Students lacking the appropriate qualifications but who have professional employment or familial experience of autism are encouraged to apply but will be required to provide evidence of their ability to study at a Higher Education level through interview and the completion of an acess task

All students should have appropriate work, volunteering or personal experience.

Home/EU students

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

It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.

New GCSE grades

If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.

Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
A level


Access to HE Diploma

The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. 

If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF; OCR) on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for further advice on your individual circumstances.

International students

IB 34 points overall or 15 at HL.

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

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. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme. 

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.


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

UK/EU Overseas

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.* 

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.

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.


University funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

Government funding

You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.


General scholarships

Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. 

The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages

The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either mathematics or a modern foreign language. Please review the eligibility criteria.