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Module PPP-2015:
Behavioural Psychology

Module Facts

Run by School of Psychology

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Rebecca Sharp

Overall aims and purpose

The purpose of this module is to provide students with an understanding of the fundamental principles and methods of applied behaviour analysis. Learning and behaviour change are examined through concepts such as reinforcement, antecedents, motivating operations, and stimulus control. We will discuss how people learn, why behaviour can be so hard to change, and what behavioural approaches can offer in improving the lives of clinical populations such as people with developmental or intellectual disabilities, dementia, and brain injury, as well as neuro-typical populations. We will discuss behaviour analytic approaches to language, as well as the importance of language in interacting with client groups and peers in behaviour analysis.

Course content

The list of topics to be covered by the module will include measurement and design in behavioural practice and research, the four-term contingency, basic and applied topics in behaviour analysis (e.g., the generalised matching law, behavioural economics, choice), behavioural skills training, assessment methods, behavioural approaches to language, and clinical interventions in behaviour analysis. In addition, students will be informed on the populations with whom behaviour analysts may work.

Assessment Criteria


Some basic understanding of behavioural principles but understanding incomplete. Weakness in linking theoretical concepts to real-world applications of behaviour analysis. Information used from lectures only with little evidence of any independent reading or study. Little critical analysis of material. Lacks integration of information from multiple sources or lecture topics, and arguments are weak and poorly supported. Poor structure and formatting of written work.


Understanding of behavioural principles is well demonstrated. Able to integrate some information from multiple sources, although limited original interpretations. Arguments are mostly well presented and coherent, with some critical analysis. Some demonstration of the ability to link theoretical concepts with real-world applications. No major errors in formatting.


Excellent understanding of behavioural principles and ability to integrate information from multiple sources. Able to critically analyse information, and effectively and creatively link theoretical knowledge to real-world applications of behaviour analysis. Arguments are coherent, articulate, and well structured. Formatting is correct and work well presented.

Learning outcomes

  1. Describe behavioural terms and concepts in both every-day and technical language.

  2. Demonstrate knowledge of the 4-term contingency.

  3. Describe methods derived from the behaviour analytic literature to produce behaviour change.

  4. Apply methods derived from the behaviour analytic literature to produce behaviour change.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Written assignment, including essay Assignment: Video games and schedules of reinforcement OR How to train your raptor 35
EXAM Final Exam 50
CLASS TEST Quizzes 15

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study 80

Weekly two-hour lecture


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

Subject specific skills

  • Understand the scientific underpinnings of psychology as a discipline.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in written 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.
  • 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.
  • Comprehend and use psychological data effectively, demonstrating a systematic knowledge of the application and limitations of various research paradigms and techniques.


Resource implications for students

Students will be provided with a discount code for the core text, and will also be able to purchase single chapters as pdfs.

Talis Reading list

Reading list

Core Reading: Miltenberger, R.G. (2012). Behaviour Modification: Principles and Procedures. (any edition). Wadsworth.

Recommended Reading: Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied behavior analysis. (2nd ed.): Pearson. (covers much the same as Miltenberger but more depth)

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: