Positive Behaviour Support MSc/PGDip/PGCert

Overview

Course facts

  • Name: Positive Behaviour Support
  • Qualification: MSc/PGDip/PGCert
  • Duration: One full calendar year as a full time student. Also available part-time, over 2 years.

Applied behaviour analysis has been recognised as the treatment of choice for a broad range of clinical problems (e.g., early intervention for autism, responding to challenging behaviour, classroom management, effective instructional practices). Positive behavioural support (PBS) is an example of behaviour analysis in a particular practice setting (usually implemented for adults with intellectual disabilities or within special education settings). PBS aims to improve a person’s quality of life through the use of a framework that allows behaviour to be analysed in the social, physical, and broader context in which it occurs. The aims of the course are to develop an advanced conceptual understanding of applied behaviour analysis, behavioural concepts and philosophy relevant to the development and treatment of psychological disorders, advanced knowledge of positive behavioural support and research methods. In addition, students will develop key competencies in the use of behavioural principles in clinical settings using the positive behaviour support model. In addition to obtaining PBS and behaviour analytic knowledge, graduates will have acquired critical evaluation, time management, collaborative working, sound professional conduct, and oral communication skills. The course is taught via lectures, group discussions, seminars, and activities. Assessments include written assignments in a range of formats and unseen exams. Students may undertake a research thesis in a range of available applied settings with a range of participants, or they may complete an internship across two years (limited places available). During the internship, students will work in an applied setting and will submit a portfolio of their clinical work at the end of each year.

Students wishing to can exit the programme after achieving either a PG Certificate or PG Diploma if they don’t wish to undertake the full MSc.

"This course is one of the first to offer a specalisation in positive behavioural support in Europe, taught by leading UK experts and offering exceptional learning opportunities." Course Director Dr Rebecca Sharp

Scholarships and Funding

You can find out more about Scholarships and funding sources here.

Course content is for guidance purposes only and may be subject to change.

Course Content

During the MSc Positive Behavioural Support students will develop an advanced conceptual understanding of Applied Behaviour Analysis and positive behaviour support, behavioural theories relevant to the development and treatment of psychological disorders and advanced knowledge of positive behaviour support and research methodology. Students will gain a thorough understanding of the development of key competencies in use of behavioural principles in clinical settings using the positive behaviour support model and conduct applied behavioural research during the thesis.

The closely related Applied Behaviour Analysis course we run was the first in Europe to be offered and is now by far the biggest. Students on this course will be taught by the largest grouping of Board Certified Behaviour Analysts in any European centre or University, giving our students a unique opportunity to obtain advanced training and further employment in areas of employment that address challenging behaviour, special educational provisions, and developmental disabilities.

Graduates of this course should acquire knowledge and understanding of:

  1. Advanced principles of applied behaviour analysis and their use in positive behaviour support practice settings.
  2. The theoretical and philosophical background of behaviour analysis and positive behaviour support.
  3. The theoretical principles in use of functional analysis and functional assessment techniques.
  4. Evaluate the theoretical underpinnings of a behavioural approach to clinical disorders and problem behaviours.
  5. A functional approach to problem behaviours.
  6. Evaluation of clinical assessment methods.
  7. Advanced data collection & presentation methods.
  8. Synthesis of behavioural approaches to a range of clinical populations (e.g., Autism, Developmental Disabilities).
  9. Critically review principles of teaching and training (e.g., precision teaching, discrete trials, incidental learning).
  10. Advanced principles of task analysis and skill development.
  11. Research issues and methods relevant to clinical psychology.
  12. Clinical report writing to submission standards.

Core modules:

  • PLP4021: Principles of learning and behaviour change I
  • PLP4022: Principles of learning and behaviour change II
  • PLP4023: Ethics and professional conduct
  • PLP4024: Positive behavioural support I
  • PLP4027: Positive behavioural support II
  • PLP4026: Advanced behavioural research methods and Proposal

And

  • PRP4002: Research Thesis (60 credits) (Research Thesis specifically focused on PBS).

OR

  • PLP4029: Behaviour analysis practicum I (30 Credit: Year 1) Practicum conducted in PBS service / clinical setting focused on PBS.
  • PLP4030: Behaviour analysis practicum II (30 Credit: Year 2) Practicum conducted in PBS service / clinical setting focused on PBS.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Teaching is done through a combination of taught workshops, seminars, specialised computer-based instructional packages and practical ’hands-on’ research experience. We aim to provide a high quality teaching and learning environment that is intellectually stimulating and that uses the principles of behaviour analysis. This requires innovative course content and instructional procedures, measurement of learning, flexible communication among students and staff, and a friendly and supportive environment. Assessment methods include written examinations, oral presentations, case reports, essays, and a research thesis.

Research Thesis

Students will conduct a research project, during which they will collect, analyse and interpret data. They will present their empirical project in a formal dissertation, and disseminate the results of their work at a conference.

Course Director

Dr Rebecca Sharp is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and New Zealand Registered Psychologist. She received her training from the University of Auckland Applied Behavior Analysis Programme, where she also completed her PhD. Rebecca’s research interests include measurement, behaviour analytic approaches to working with people with dementia and traumatic brain injury, the translation of clinical and laboratory research to applied settings, and teaching behaviour analysis. As a clinician, Rebecca has worked with recidivist youth offenders using multi-systemic therapy, with children with brain injury, and in a large disability service, providing behavior support for adults and children with intellectual disabilities. Rebecca has experience working in a range of settings including schools, residential services and clients' homes.

Modules for the current academic year

Module listings are for guide purposes only and are subject to change. Find out what our students are currently studying on the Positive Behaviour Support Modules page.

Entry Requirements

You must have a single or joint honours degree in Psychology or a related subject area (e.g., special education, speech and language therapy), normally with a minimum degree class of 2(2) or equivalent clinical experience.

IELTS: 6.5 (with no element below 6) is required.

International Students

For information and further detailed guidance on entry requirements for International Students, including the minimum English Language entry requirement, please visit the Entry Requirements by Country pages on the International Education Centre section of our website.

Ask the IEC for assistance...

If you want advice or a general chat about what’s available contact the International Education Centre on +44 (0) 1248 382028 or email international@bangor.ac.uk

Apply

Admissions to the programme are made on a rolling basis, so early applications are encouraged. Applications are made using Bangor’s online application system.

If you have any questions about entry requirements, how to apply or the course you are interested in please do not hesitate to contact Bethan Pentith on +44 (0)1248 382629 or by emailing psychology@bangor.ac.uk We look forward to hearing from you.

How to Apply

Home/EU students

Home/EU students: apply online yourself with the help of our Guidance Notes on online application for Home/EU students. We strongly recommend you read these before you start to apply online.

Apply online

Once you have read the Guidance Notes you should apply using our Online Application form.

Need help applying? Home/EU students please contact:

Postgraduate Admissions: postgraduate@bangor.ac.uk or write to:

Admissions Office
Bangor University
Gwynedd
LL57 2TF

Telephone: +44 (0)1248 383717.

International students

  • Agents: if you are an agent applying on behalf of the student, then you can Apply here.  For further guidance click here

Need help applying? International students please contact:

International Education Office: international@bangor.ac.uk or write to

International Education Centre
Bangor University
Gwynedd
LL57 2DG

Telephone: +44 (0) 1248 382028

When to apply

The University will accept applications throughout the year, but we would generally advise that you send in your application form by the end of June to ensure that you have time to make any funding and/or accommodation arrangements, and for documents such as transcripts and references to be obtained if not submitted with the application. This will also give you more time to meet any conditions we may potentially attach to an offer.

Careers and Employability

As with all our MSc courses, this degree provides the advanced research skills required for research in a broad range of settings. It equips students with practical skills in research design, analysis, and information technology for investigating research questions in psychology and the social sciences. Equally important, the programme provides training in communicating research findings to others.

Research / Links with Industry

Staff involved in the course include experts in Positive Behaviour Support (in particular Dr Sandy Toogood is one of the UK’s most experienced and published PBS practitioner, and Katy Lee, an experienced PBS practioner); with other faculty having been actively involved in recent UK level discussion and Task Groups informing policy and publications of how Positive Behaviour Support fits in the UK context and can be delivered.

As with all our MSc courses, this degree provides the advanced research skills required for research in a broad range of settings. It equips students with practical skills in research design, analysis, and information technology for investigating research questions in psychology and the social sciences. Equally important, the programme provides training in communicating research findings to others.

Applied behaviour analysis has been recognised as the treatment of choice for a broad range of clinical problems (e.g., early intervention for autism, responding to challenging behaviour, classroom management, effective instructional practices). This recognition has created a need for developing training courses that establish therapeutic competence in the basic principles of the science. 

Further, the NICE guidelines (2015) for health and social care recommend Positive Behaviour Interventions as the treatment of choice in service settings that care for those with learning disabilities and behaviour that challenges.

Funding

There are school funded achievement scholarships for first class students, international scholarships and information on other funding sources on our scholarships School page.

Further information

Next steps