Module PLP-4025:
Beh Analysis AcrossTheLifespan

Module Facts

Run by School of Psychology

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Ms Helena O Boyle

Overall aims and purpose

In this module students will develop advanced understanding of behavioural approaches to language and their applied implications.The module also covers key content areas of the Behaviour Analysis Certification Board Task List 4 (and soon to be 5), for those wishing to attain BCBA certification status.

Course content

The first part of the module will introduce students to some of the empirical and theoretical approaches to behavioural accounts of language. The next component will focus on the evidence and approach to EIBI for Autism and will call upon theoretical accounts covered previously to discuss how these may inform the development of language-teaching programmes (e.g., to remediate autism spectrum disorder). The basic research related to these approaches will be reviewed and how this research base can inform practice. The lectures will then focus on autism and how early intervention programmes have been developed from behaviour analysis. The module will also focus on investigating how accounts of language have informed approaches to clinical problems, in particular, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. The module will also show the application of the science of behaviour to a range of populations (e.g., people with dementia, in organisations, and people with brain injury).

Assessment Criteria


Threshold 50 – 59%

• Some basic consideration of the applications of behaviourism in the real world. • Adequate knowledge of some of the key concepts in applied behaviour analysis only. • Weaknesses in understanding theoretical issues with multiple/major factual errors. • Limited evidence of critical analysis and evaluation of theory and research. • Arguments are presented briefly, but they are weak with no synthesis or original interpretation. • Answer only briefly focussed on question and with some irrelevant material and poor structure. • Weak presentation with disjointed structure and major APA format errors.


Excellent 70% +

• Depth of insight into the applications of behaviourism in the real world. • Comprehensive and detailed knowledge of applied behaviour analysis. • Excellent understanding and original interpretation of theoretical issues with no factual errors. • Clear evidence of critical analysis and insightful evaluation of theory and research. • Logically presented and defended arguments presented with coherent synthesis and original interpretation. • Answer focussed on question, with no irrelevant material and clear structure. • Well-structured presentation showing focus and clarity of argument and expression.


Good 60 - 69%

• Some insight into the applications of behaviourism in the real world. • Strong knowledge of key concepts in applied behaviour analysis. • Solid understanding of theoretical issues mostly free of factual errors. • Evidence of critical analysis and evaluation of theory and research. • Coherent arguments presented, with some limited synthesis and original interpretation • Answer focussed on question, but with very little irrelevant material and clear structure • Well-structured presentation showing focus of argument and expression.

Learning outcomes

  1. Describe how behaviour analysis can be used to improve the quality of life for a range of populations and across settings (e.g., people with dementia).

    1. Describe the main aspects of modern approaches to clinical behaviour analysis (ACT, FAP and BT).
  2. Describe the main behavioural approaches to developing language and explain how these approaches have informed procedures for teaching language, in particular, in the autism population.

    1. Explain the application of a functional contextual explanation of psychopathology through "fusion" and "experiental avoidance".

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Assignment 50
Exam 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study 155
Lecture 36

Group discussion


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Understand the scientific underpinnings of psychology as a discipline.
  • Apply multiple perspectives to psychological issues and integrate ideas and findings across the multiple perspectives in psychology.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in written form.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in oral form.
  • Be computer literate for the purpose of processing and disseminating psychological data and information.
  • Retrieve and organise information effectively.
  • Handle primary source material critically.
  • Engage in effective teamwork for the purpose of collaborating on psychological projects.
  • Be sensitive and react appropriately to contextual and interpersonal psychological factors.
  • Use effectively personal planning and project management skills.
  • Work effectively under pressure (time pressure, limited resources, etc) as independent and pragmatic learners.
  • Problem-solve by clarifying questions, considering alternative solutions, making critical judgements, and evaluating outcomes.
  • Reason scientifically and demonstrate the relationship between theory and evidence.
  • Employ evidence-based reasoning and examine practical, theoretical and ethical issues associated with the use of different methodologies, paradigms and methods of analysis in psychology.
  • Be aware of ethical principles and approval procedures.


Reading list

Core Text: Cooper, J.O., Heron, T.E., & Heward, W.L. 2nd Ed. (2007). Applied Behavior Analysis. NY. MacMillan.

Recommended Reading:

Hayes, S. C. (2002). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Context Press, Reno

Johnston, J.M. & Pennypacker, H.S. (1993). Strategies and tactics of human behavioural research (2nd ed). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Kazdin, A.E. (1982). Single-case research designs: Methods for clinical and applied settings. New York: Oxford University Press.

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module