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Module PLP-3001:
Applied Behaviour Analysis

Module Facts

Run by School of Psychology

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Marguerite Hoerger

Overall aims and purpose

In this module, we aim to show you how the science of behaviour analysis can provide a unique and valuable contribution to applied psychology. The main focus of the module though will examine behaviour analysis across a wide range of clinical and educational settings. You will be encouraged to start “thinking behaviourally” about a wide area of interventions and in particular how interventions are built on the same basic principles of human behaviour. Students will also be introduced to the idea of a 'science of consequences', and how this way of viewing human behaviour can give us a conceptual framework that has huge scope in helping us explain what we do. The main aim of this module is to give you a taste of the impact and scope of behaviour analysis across a wide area and will be useful to students who will go on to work with people who ‘behave’.

Course content

Initially we will cover some of the fundamental conceptual and methodological issues in the study of complex human behaviour that have informed all applied uses of the science of behaviour change. Topics will include how the understanding of behavioural principles and ‘consequential selectionism’ is essential to understanding all aspects of ‘what we humans do’. Over the last five decades behaviour analysts have developed therapeutic approaches and interventions to helping people across a wide range of clinical issues that will be discussed on this module: child development and behaviour problems, educational and learning applications, the assessment and treatment of challenging and self-injurious behaviour, the use of contemporary behaviour therapies in stress, depression, etc. (e.g., Acceptance & Commitment Therapy), and best practice in treatment for children with learning disabilities and autism. Topics will also include the use of behaviour principles to impact quality of life for animals in captivity, and how the field of Behaviour Analysis can contribute to a more sustainable environment. There is one recommended book but further focused reading will be indicated for specific lectures (‘A science of consequences’ by Susan Snider).

Assessment Criteria


Comprehensive and accurate coverage of the area clarity of argument and expression. Depth of insight into theoretical issues.• Depth of insight into the applications of behavioural theory in real world applications. • Comprehensive and detailed knowledge of behavior analysis in practice. • 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 focused on question, with no irrelevant material and clear structure • Well-structured presentation showing focus and clarity of argument and expression.


• Some basic consideration of the applications of behavioural theory in the real world. • Adequate knowledge of some of the key concepts in behavior 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.


• Some insight into the applications of social behavioural theory in the real world. • Strong knowledge of key concepts in behavior analysis in practice. • 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 focused on question, but with very little irrelevant material and clear structure • Well-structured presentation showing focus of argument and expression.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate an informed understanding and appreciation of the theoretical foundation and applied procedures developed by behaviour analysts as one of the helping professions.

  2. Demonstrate detailed knowledge of how behaviour analysts employ scientifically-derived principles of learning, and the methodology of functional analysis, to help people change.

  3. Demonstrate/show a broad knowledge of the areas where the science of behaviour change has been applied across clinical, educational, and everyday settings.

  4. Identify, critically appraise, and explain the significance of, published works of relevance to the conceptual, experimental or applied analysis of behaviour.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Personal Behaviour Change Project - Essay 50
Final Exam 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Primary method of teaching will be through interactive lectures.

Private study

Students will be expected to read specific chapters and readings and research relevant to their Personal Behaviour Change Project and relevant readings for the lectures and exam preparation.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • 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
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • 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.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Comprehend and use psychological data effectively, demonstrating a systematic knowledge of the application and limitations of various research paradigms and techniques.
  • 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.


Resource implications for students

Recommended book for the course is: Snider, S. M. (2012). The science of consequences: how they affect genes, change the brain, and impact our world. Amherst: Prometheus Books.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: