MSc Behaviour Change (incorporating PG Dip/PG Cert)
Why choose this course?
The first Master’s course of its kind, our MSc Behaviour Change with its distinct pathways, opens doors to a wide range of fulfilling careers which focus on changing people’s behaviour and helping them to make positive choices.
- Develop an in-depth understanding of human behaviour and behaviour change
- Increase your confidence, skills and abilities to foster behaviour change in the context of wellbeing, safety or the natural environment
- Specialise in the areas which interest you most, by taking one of four unique pathways (availability of each depends on student numbers)
- Devise practical ways to promote behaviour change, underpinned by theory and evidence-based science
- Learn from an enthusiastic and experienced team of research-active psychologists and ergonomists
- Take a flexible route to a masters degree: you only need to visit the campus for an induction event and then for nine days each year
- Progress your career in areas such as the health and wellbeing sectors, local government and occupational health and safety – or take your learning to PhD level
Course code: MC8AQ Start date: September Course length: The programme is currently only offered as a part-time degree: three years Campus: Kedleston Road site, Derby Campus College: College of Life & Natural Sciences
About this course
This is an original and topical course which challenges assumptions about behaviour change. It is aimed at professionals who want to gain new knowledge to support their work, and at graduates from a broad range of disciplines who would like to specialise in behaviour change and add social science to their skill set.
Pioneering a new area of study
Behaviour change has found a place at the heart of UK policy making, with an emphasis on finding innovative ways of encouraging, enabling and supporting people to make better choices for themselves. It plays a key role in health, safety and environmental initiatives.
Our MSc fills a gap in high quality postgraduate education covering this topical subject. It covers psychological theories and models so that you can develop a greater understanding of human behaviour and behaviour change.
You’ll also gain the transferable skills you need to design, deliver and evaluate interventions that provide opportunities for people to change in a variety of practical contexts.
We offer four pathways to a named masters award in Behaviour Change, allowing you to focus on the area in which you are most interested, which reflects your current job role or which meets your employers’ needs. They are:
- MSc Behaviour Change (Health and Wellbeing)
- MSc Behaviour Change (Occupational Health and Safety)
- MSc Behaviour Change (Environment and Conservation)
- MSc Behaviour Change (Ergonomics and Human Factors)
While the chance to specialise is a key element of the course, you’ll also benefit from exchanging views and experiences with students on other pathways. This underlines the way behaviour change initiatives often take a multidisciplinary approach.
If you’d like to find out more about any of the four pathways, please contact Dr Sigrid Lipka (email: email@example.com; tel 01332 593052).
A flexible learning experience
Our course has a structure as innovative as its content, enabling you to integrate your studies with your work and other commitments. It features three-day study blocks at our Kedleston Road campus, totalling nine days per year. You’ll also engage in guided learning and research activities at times to suit you.
You can either complete the full MSc in your chosen pathway over three years, or take a ‘step-off’ award after one year with the generic Postgraduate Certificate or after two years with the Postgraduate Diploma in your named pathway.
Although the pathways share several modules, they are distinctive and tailored to your particular interests. For all module coursework, you’ll focus on the specialist contexts that matter to you and are aligned with your practical experience.
At the start of your second year, you’ll take a pathway-specific module. In your masters research project in the final year, you will then conduct an independent study into an aspect of behaviour change which relates to your chosen pathway.
A teaching team to inspire you
You’ll be taught by a dedicated team of psychology and ergonomics experts whose research underpins and enriches this course. They are conducting studies into a broad spectrum of topics including body esteem, the management of painful conditions, smoking cessation, coping with stress, ageing and social inclusion, health and safety, people’s connection to nature, and language and communication.
Our staff have close links with professional bodies such as the British Psychological Society as well as major employers and stakeholders within the health, ergonomics and environmental sectors. Thanks to these wider professional networks, the course features opportunities for you to hear from influential guest speakers who can share their experiences of behaviour change interventions.
As part of our thriving academic community, we also have a Centre for Psychological Research which advances our studies in everything from wellbeing, health and weight loss to anxiety and compassion. It offers a range of consultancy services and runs regular research seminars.
What you will cover
This course is made up of three stages: Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, and MSc.
Postgraduate Certificate in Behaviour Change
In year one, you’ll study three modules such as:
- Psychology for Behaviour Change - You will learn about psychology as a science and explore psychological approaches to learning, cognition, individual differences and social factors in order to critically reflect on how research in these areas is relevant to an understanding of behaviour.
- Theories and Models of Behaviour - You will learn about psychology as a science and explore psychological approaches to learning, cognition, individual differences and social factors in order to critically reflect on how research in these areas is relevant to an understanding of behaviour.
- Applied Behaviour Change Interventions - You’ll gain the knowledge and skills required to propose, design and evaluate an evidence-based workplace or community behaviour change intervention.
Postgraduate Diploma in Behaviour Change (in named pathway)
In your second year, you’ll study a further three modules such as:
- Research and Evaluation - You’ll design, conduct, report and evaluate empirical research and behavioural change interventions in applied contexts.
- Systems Context - Using the framework of applied systems thinking, you will explore the impact of specific interventions and ongoing programmes within the realities of organisational settings.
The third module in year two is specific to your chosen pathway:
- Positive Psychology, Health and Wellbeing - You’ll explore the philosophy and theories of positive psychology and its application to health and wellbeing initiatives on a personal and group level.
- Occupational Health and Safety and Behaviour Change - This module introduces theoretical and practical principles underlying human performance and behavioural approaches to health and safety in the workplace.
- Environment and Behaviour - You’ll explore theories and evidence relating to human-nature interactions, promoting nature conservation and the benefits of nature, for example creativity, restoration, health and wellbeing.
- Ergonomics and Human Factors - This module critically analyses system performance and the evidence-base for how it impacts on typical workplace performance, comfort and health problems.
MSc in Behaviour Change (in named pathway)
At this final stage, you only study one module which runs over three terms:
- Research Project in Behaviour Change - You’ll identify a research issue related to behaviour change in your chosen pathway, review existing literature, formulate novel research questions and test these questions.
Under the supervision of a member of the programme team, you’ll identify a research issue related to behaviour change in your chosen pathway, review existing literature, formulate novel research questions and - applying all relevant ethical guidelines and principles - test these questions through the application of contemporary psychological methodologies and appropriate data analysis and scientific report writing.
You will need an undergraduate degree (lower second or above) or equivalent in a relevant subject or substantial professional experience.
How to apply
- Students should apply directly to the University
Fees and finance
2018/19 Fees (August 2018 - July 2019)
Full-time Part-time UK
£715 per 20 credits*
*Note – at postgraduate level, you’ll need to gain the following number of credits in total to obtain the awards below.
Postgraduate Certificate 60 Credits Postgraduate Diploma 120 Credits MA or MSc 180 Credits
This means you will gain 180 credits in total to complete the full MA or MSc. If you are studying part time you will normally complete your studies over two or three years, depending on the course structure.
Please note that all fees may be subject to annual increase.
Funding your studies
Alumni discount for Derby graduates
How you will learn
You’ll be taught by a dedicated team of research-active health and cognitive psychologists and ergonomists who all have expert knowledge of psychological theory, practice, and research. You’ll benefit from exchanges with students across our Behaviour Change pathways, thus increasing your multidisciplinary outlook. As part of the course you’ll undertake your own research project, specialising in an area of behaviour change that particularly interests you and that is relevant to your current work or career aspirations.
Our MSc Behaviour Change programme combines research-led teaching with an innovative portfolio of assessments to ensure you develop both the knowledge and transferable skills necessary for employment in a number of sectors promoting behavior change.
The course is offered as a part-time degree and it is unique in that it combines periods of flexible learning throughout the duration of each term with on-campus study blocks amounting to a total of nine days attendance per year. Each module has an on-campus study block of three days of lectures, seminars and guided activities. In addition, you have access to our bespoke study materials and learning activities which you’ll engage with in your own time, giving you the flexibility to study at the most convenient time and place for you. The nine-day on-campus attendance per year fits well with a typical ten-day industry allocation for staff development, so if you’re self-funding it allows you to continue to work full-time. In addition, new students attend our two-day induction event at the start of the academic year.
You'll be assessed via coursework. There will be many activities to thoroughly prepare you for your coursework. Assessments are matched to the individual module learning outcomes, which are derived from the course aims and learning outcomes.
An expert teaching team
Dr Sigrid Lipka (language and communication, working memory, dual-tasking, exam anxiety, attentional biases to compassionate and critical emotions, malingering in neuropsychological and forensic settings)
Dr Fiona Holland (health and wellbeing, especially body esteem, experiences of living in non-normative bodies, motivational interviewing, behaviour change and the benefits of well-being interventions on psychological health)
Andrew Baird (occupational safety & health, with a particular focus on musculoskeletal disorders, pain and the psychological issues involved in both the experience and management of painful conditions)
Dr Miles Richardson (people's connection to nature and benefits for well-being and pro-conservation behaviour, assembly task complexity, children's construction play and its association with maths ability)
Dr Amy Baraniak (behaviour change interventions for smoking cessation and reducing cardiovascular disease risk, psychological impact of informal caregiving, management of long term illness and disability)
Professor James Elander (coping and pain management in painful chronic illnesses such as haemophilia and sickle cell disease, educational transitions, student writing and student assessment)
Dr Ben Roberts (eyewitness testimony and identification evidence, paranormal beliefs and experiences)
Prof David Sheffield (performing under pressure; coping with stress; cultivating compassion)
Dr Ruth Sims (inclusive design/design for all, accessibility and usability of products, services and environments by older and physically impaired individuals, ageing and social inclusion, digital exclusion, ageing workforce)
Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.
Careers and employability
Our MSc Behaviour Change course could be your stepping stone to employment and promotion opportunities in the health sector, local government and occupational health and safety roles.
It also provides a suitable qualification if you’re working in allied areas and want to progress your career by branching out into a specialist area. You could, for instance, be a physiotherapist or an occupational health and safety professional keen to broaden your skill set by focusing on behaviour change.
In addition, the MSc Behaviour Change provides a strong basis for further study in the form of a PhD.
What our students say
"Returning to academia 30 years on from leaving school was a daunting prospect but the lecturers at Derby have eased me into the groove! The learning is really well paced, enabling me to balance home study with work, and the mix of block study and distance learning is just right. The course is pioneering and we are made to feel like pioneers through engaged debate and challenging assignments which have been carefully plotted to extend our learning as each topic is introduced. Year one has been fascinating so far and the learning has already provided me with ample opportunity to apply new knowledge and techniques in the workplace."
Jonathan Gawthrop, current student
Robert Ward, MSc Behaviour Change graduate, influenced submarine workers to wear protective skin creams thanks to research he undertook during his master's course, changing the way BAE systems approached aspects of employee health. Robert said: “I’ve worked as a SHE advisor at BAE Systems for the past 10 years and my project was based on a real area of concern. My challenge was to understand why workers weren’t using the skincare creams provided and to change the behaviours of employees and supervisors."
Robert Ward, graduate