Positive Behaviour Support

Positive Behaviour Support - BSc (Hons)

UCAS code L517


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



This is a blended learning programme which means that the programme is delivered using a blend of campus-based workshops and web-based materials.  Students are typically required to attend one four-day workshop at the beginning of the academic year and one two-day exam workshop in the spring term.  During each term there are weekly discussions/activities and online chats.  Tutorials are available (either online or via the telephone) regularly throughout the programme.  Students also complete guided and independent reading/research.  Some modules also include an option for practice-based assignments.  Some online sessions are compulsory and require students to participate online at a set time (9-5 during term time).  For other elements, students can study the materials as they wish but we suggest which materials should be studied each week.

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.  Focusing upon sound assessment and understanding of the reasons for challenging behaviour, it teaches constructive ways to respond to support the individual and people around the individual.  

The BSc 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 and plan a move to postgraduate studies at Tizard with your tutor during your BSc studies.

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

Teaching Excellence Framework

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.  

On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘wild’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.

Stage 1

Modules may include Credits

The occurrence of challenging behaviours amongst children and adults with a diagnosis of intellectual and developmental disabilities has produced a large body of research literature, policy and professional advice. Challenging behaviour has profound impacts upon people affected by it physically, psychologically, socially and economically. This module, as part of the Positive Behaviour Support programmes, provides summary information on the causes, characteristics and epidemiology of challenging behaviour, and begins to outline intervention methodologies. The module explores some legal and ethical issues arising from challenging behaviour.

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This module will help students to evaluate the impact of practice advice, policy and legislation on attempts to provide quality provision for individuals with autism or intellectual and developmental disabilities. It will present the legal positions regarding consent & capacity, anti-discrimination legislation, human rights and safeguarding. It will consider policy initiatives and implementation as well as practice-advice, for example NICE guidelines on challenging behaviour and on autism.

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This module will present students with teaching on the policy and research contexts of person centred approaches, their origins and applications, and the methods of beginning a basic assessment of goodness of fit between individuals and environments by focussing on four domains: communication, wellbeing, choice and activities. Through assessment of work situations or of a hypothetical case study, students will be able to offer a critical and constructive answer to the question of how to provide person-centred support to individuals.

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Stage 2

Modules may include Credits

Stage 3

Modules may include Credits

This module provides an opportunity for final stage students to study emergent research, policy and practice topics. It is likely to include areas in which teaching staff are active and to offer the students the opportunity to develop their understanding of research, policy and practice in key areas. Students will have the opportunity to attend our existing short courses where relevant (e.g. Talking Mats, Person-centred active support, The SPELL Framework). Topics are likely to include:

• Skilled support

• People with autism or IDD and the criminal justice system

• Autism & Women

• Mental Health & Autism or IDD

• Hate crime and victimisation

• Staff culture

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The module will ensure students are 'research aware' by teaching them about quantitative and qualitative research. It explores the purposes of research and methods, as well as the ethical, political and pragmatic issues research focused on autism & intellectual and developmental disabilities has experienced and continues to seek to address. It will teach students how to effectively carry out literature reviews, observations and participant research. The importance of critical analysis, reliability and validity is explored in depth. The module emphasises the knowledge needed to access and interpret research literature and data in the field.

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The occurrence of challenging behaviours amongst children and adults with a diagnosis of intellectual and developmental disabilities has produced a large body of research literature, policy and professional advice. Challenging behaviour has profound impacts upon people affected by it physically, psychologically, socially and economically. This module, as part of the Positive Behaviour Support programmes, provides information on the causes and characteristics of challenging behaviour, and outlines assessment and intervention methodologies. The module explores some legal and ethical issues arising from assessment of challenging behaviour, in particular the use of experimental conditions (analogues) during brief functional analysis. Observational methods will be taught, reliability methods considered, and the collection and presentation of data explored.

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The module will offer students teaching on:

• Developing a research question

• Design of research projects

• Ethics and social validity

• Research methodologies, including

o Library-based research

o Observation

o Interviews

• Data analysis and presentation

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Teaching and assessment

Students attend campus for one workshop at the commencement of each academic year, as well as for an exam workshop toward the end of the year. Each year comprises four modules, some unique to Positive Behaviour Support students, some shared with Tizard students taking our Autism programmes. On completion students will have knowledge not only of clinical and person centred best practice, but have gained experience of research.

The BSc is taught by blended learning, a combination of exciting workshops and interactive web-delivered materials, case studies and real-world assignments. Expert practitioners on best practice and the latest research teach and lead the programme. You work individually and collaboratively with other students, are supported by Tizard Centre tutors, and participate in group activities, discussions, as well as sharing your experience with others.

Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • Deliver content reflecting  best clinical practice  and national standards to support effective  work with   people  with   intellectual   and  developmental   disabilities   whose   behaviour   others   find challenging.
  • Offer flexible methods of learning that will appeal to students from diverse backgrounds.
  • Produce  graduates  with the knowledge  and skills to take up employment  in education  or adult human services, undertake further studies, and display the transferable skills necessary to demonstrate personal responsibility and decision-making  in local and national leadership roles.
  • Prepare students to support children or adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their support networks  using Positive Behaviour  Support i.e. a behavioural  approach  integrated with an "ordinary life" philosophy.
  • Enable students to work in constructive, inclusive, and ethical ways with people who are often marginalised and vulnerable as well as with staff or families often lacking support.
  • Provide students with a sound knowledge base and opportunities to develop analytical skills that can be applied in human service provision for children, young people and adults.    
  • Encourage participation in Higher Education of people from diverse backgrounds  some of whom may not have 'traditionally' recognised qualifications.
  • Support  the  development   of high-quality  and  appropriate  services  for  children  or  adults  with intellectual and developmental disability and challenging behaviour  by preparing students to fulfil the  need  for  specialist  workers  locally,  nationally  and  internationally  in  a  key  sector  of  the economy.
  • Promote good practice in those supporting individuals whose behaviour challenges those around them through the systematic application of knowledge derived from theory and research.
  • To  encourage  practitioners  to  develop  a  clearly  articulated  person-centred  values  base  to underpin  support  for  people  with  intellectual/developmental  disabilities  whose   behaviour   is described as challenging.
  • To encourage  a critical understanding  of policy and legal contexts in human services, including education,  for children  or adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities  whose  behaviour  is described as challenging.
  • To develop  awareness  and understanding  of the needs  and characteristics  of individuals  with intellectual/developmental disabilities whose behaviour is described as challenging.
  • To   develop  an  understanding  of  the  features   of  evidence-based   support  amongst   people supporting  children  or  adults  with  intellectual/developmental  disabilities  whose  behaviour   is described as challenging.
  • To  develop a critical understanding of the importance of quality of life and the necessary  skills to assess and address factors restricting it.
  • To develop a critical understanding of the concepts of applied behaviour analysis and positive behaviour support, and their ethical application.
  • To develop the skills to conduct individualised, functionally-based assessment of challenging behaviour and develop associated positive behaviour support interventions
  • To  develop  the  skills to analyse  assessment  information  and synthesise  meaning  in order to create intervention plans.
  • To develop a critical understanding of research methodologies.
  • To conceptualise, design and carry out research investigations.
  • To develop an understanding  of the ethical application of functional analysis. 
  • To  develop a critical  understanding  of current research,  practice  and policy topics,  including  an awareness  of the impact on different stakeholders.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain a knowledge and understanding of:

  • Causes,  characteristics  and epidemiology  of challenging  behaviour.
  • Supporting  people  with intellectual/developmental disabilities  whose behaviour  is described  as challenging and their families.
  • Person centred approaches  as a value base for the provision  of services.
  • The  policy  and  legal  contexts  of education  and human  service  provision  for individuals  with intellectual/developmental disabilities  whose behaviour  is described  as challenging.
  • Approaches  to  creating  inclusive  services.
  • Evidenced-based   intervention   options   in  designing   support   systems   for  individuals   with intellectual and developmental disabilities whose behaviour is described as challenging (with particular reference to positive behaviour  support).
  • The collection,  analysis and interpretation  of quantitative  and qualitative data relating to quality of life of individuals  whose behaviour  is described  as challenging.
  • Ethical approaches  to research.
  • Recent developments  in positive behaviour support research, practice and policy.
  • How functional analysis can be used ethically to understand the development  and maintenance of challenging  behaviour.

Intellectual skills

You gain the following intellectual skills:

  • The ability to review and critically comment upon academic literature.
  • The  ability to critically  analyse  data  in relation  to method,  reliability  and validity.
  • The  ability to  use  assessment  information  to  develop  strategies  for  problem  solving  and improving people's quality of life.
  • The ability to synthesise information from various sources to draw conclusions  on how best to support individuals.

Subject-specific skills

You gain the following subject-specific skills:

  • The selection and use of a range of recognised  assessment tools relating to the understanding of behaviour and quality of life. 
  • The development  and application  of intervention  plans to address  challenging  behaviour  and quality of life.
  • The use of recognised strategies and techniques to support the provision of high quality support within services, educational or family settings.

Transferable skills

You gain the following transferable skills:

  • 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 including the abilities to work collaboratively, negotiate, listen and implement change.
  • Improving own learning: Be reflective, adaptive and collaborative in their learning; explore personal strengths  and weaknesses;  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 access 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 Baccalaureate

IB 34 points overall or 15 at Higher Level

International students

The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country.

If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.

Meet our staff in your country

For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.

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
Full-time £9250 £15700
Part-time £4625 £7850

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.