A postgraduate degree in behaviour change drawing on multidisciplinary scholarship and its application. This innovative programme is centred around the systematic application of behaviour change theory and methods to design, implement and evaluate interventions. This approach equips students to work in this emerging and exciting field to address global problems.
Modes and duration
Tuition Fees (2019/20)
- £10,440 (FT) £5,210 (PT)
- £25,150 (FT) £12,510 (PT)
For the MSc, a minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor's degree in a behavioural or social science (for example, psychology, sociology, anthropology, social geography) or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard and relevant quantitative or qualitative research experience. Practical experience with a behaviour change focus (through paid or voluntary work) is also beneficial. The first degree should also include experience with research methodology including use of qualitative and/or quantitative methods to support students’ undertaking of the research-based dissertation and their understanding of the core modules.
For the PG Diploma or Certificate, a minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor's degree or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard in any academic discipline and relevant research and/or practical experience (e.g., paid or voluntary) with a behaviour change focus are required.
English Language Requirements
If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.
The English language level for this programme is: Good
Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.
Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.
- Why Study this Course?
Changing human behaviour is at the heart of solving global problems central to well-being, social cohesion and environmental sustainability. For example, preventing obesity, pollution and waste of resources and improving cyber security and economic stability all require behaviour change at individual, organisational and population levels. Government and public bodies, charities and commercial companies now routinely seek to integrate behaviour change research within their policies and practices in areas such as health, environment and transport. This ground-breaking MSc will train and develop a new generation of researchers, practitioners and policymakers to advance and translate this expertise in a wide range of jobs
- Centre for Behaviour Change
Led by Susan Michie, Professor of Health Psychology at UCL, the CBC is a world-leading centre for expertise in behaviour change that fosters multidisciplinary knowledge exchange and translates expertise to those wishing to apply this knowledge and skills to their work and/or studies. The Centre engages leaders from a variety of key academic disciplines in a far-reaching programme of research, training, teaching, consultancy and events.
The MSc in Behaviour Change will be taught by academics from disciplines including psychology, behavioural economics, the built environment, law, philosophy, health informatics, computer science, public health and implementation science. A dedicated course team consisting of a Programme Director, Senior Lecturer, Senior Teaching Fellow and Administrator will be supported by a team of expert guest lecturers.
The programme is delivered through lectures, seminars, small group work, project work and independent study. Assessment is through coursework, unseen examinations and research projects. Although not formally offered as part of the course, we can support students to find a work experience placement as part of their programme.
Students will take four core modules and a further three elective modules selected from a choice of twelve covering topics such as health, transport and energy use. These, along with a research-based dissertation, will:
- equip students with the knowledge and ability to critically appraise theories, methods and evidence for understanding behaviour and behaviour change from a range of disciplinary perspectives
- train students in the design, implementation and evaluation of behaviour change interventions using systematic methods and integrative frameworks
- enable students to plan and support the translation of evidence into practice in multidisciplinary and multi-sectorial settings
This programme is also available as a Postgraduate Diploma or Certificate, which does not require students to complete the research project module.
The MSc Behaviour Change can be customized to suit your learning and development needs.
MSc: Available Full-time (1 year); Part-time (2 years).
Students undertake 8 modules to the value of 180 credits; 4 core modules (75 credits), 3 elective modules (45 credits) and a research-based dissertation (60 credits).
Postgraduate diploma: Available Full-time (1 year); Part-time (2 years).
Students undertake 7 modules to the value of 120 credits; 4 core modules (60 credits), 3 elective modules (60 credits).
Postgraduate certificate: Available Full-time (1 year); Part-time (2 years).
Students undertake 3 core modules to the value of 60 credits.
You can tailor your MSc programme by choosing elective modules that are relevant to your current or future development needs, or career aspirations.
- Changing Behaviour: Intervention Development and Evaluation (30 Credits)
This module will introduce the principles of behaviour change and demonstrate how they can be applied to a broad range of practical problems. Students will learn how to apply the evidence-based frameworks of the Behaviour Change Wheel (Michie, Atkins and West, 2014) and the Behaviour Change Technique Taxonomy V.1 to develop and evaluate behaviour change interventions under the supervision of experienced academics and practitioners.
Students are encouraged to use examples that are relevant to their current or future work-based problems, or career aspirations, as case material in this module.
- Theories and Models of Behaviour Change (15 Credits)
In the context of behaviour change, theories seek to explain why, when and how a behaviour does or does not occur. This module will illustrate how theories from a range of disciplines can be used in the development, implementation and evaluation of behaviour change interventions and will explore the issues around the use of theory in this area.
The module will enable students to build up a knowledge bank of potentially useful theories for use in their own research and/or practice
- Behaviour Change: An Interdisciplinary Approach (15 Credits)
Successful behaviour change interventions almost always require some form of collaboration between professionals from different disciplines. For example, tackling the obesity epidemic will require nutritional and exercise scientists and practitioners to work together with behavioural scientists, epidemiologists and policy experts in order to develop effective policy.
This module explores how different disciplines conceptualise behaviour change and what can be done to address the challenges and harness the power of mutlidisciplinary thinking. Lectures will illustrate the discipline-specific concepts, models and techniques used to change behaviour, using examples from the lecturers' own research.
- Research Methods and Evidence for Global Health (15 Credits)
This module offers an introduction to research methods, using the subject of global health as an illustrative example. Students will learn the basic principles of key research methods, including; epidemiological study designs, statistical methods, qualitative research, and critical appraisal techniques. Seminars will develop students skills in translating the principles of research methodology to apply to the full range of relevant subjects and disciplines. The module will support students to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully execute their research project.
- Research Project (60 Credits)
MSc students undertake an independent research project, written up as a dissertation of 8,000 words. Projects will also be presented in a mini-conference.
Since several modules available to the MSc Behaviour Change programme are also available to other MSc programmes there may be a cap on the number of students registered to the MSc Behaviour Change that can take part in a capped module in any one year. Capped modules are filled on a first come, first served basis.
- Behaviour Change: Health and Wellbeing (15 Credits) **
Behaviour change is of central importance to the onset, maintenance and recovery from health problems. This module will introduce students to evidence, methods and theory in relation to changing and maintaining behaviour(s) relevant to health and wellbeing.
The module will cover a range of health-related behaviours and address how to support change at individual, community and population levels in low- and high-income settings. Students will learn how to apply theory and evidence-based principles of behaviour change to real world problems of health and wellbeing.
Typical topics include:
- Preventing obesity by changing diet and physical activity
- Promoting sexual health
- Smoking cessation
- Reducing harm from alcohol use
- Promoting psychological wellbeing
- Community engagement approaches to health promotion
- Digital health
** In any given year, this module requires sufficient numbers to proceed.
- Transport Behaviour Change: Theory and Practice (15 Credits)
The methods that people use to move themselves from one location to another have a profound influence on global issues such as health and wellbeing and the sustainability of the world’s resources. Changing travel-related behaviour in order to improve individual and population health, conserve resources, reduce congestion and prevent accidents is an increasingly important application of behaviour change theory and practice.
This module will introduce students to the research, principles and practice of changing transport-related behaviours.
Typical topics include:
- Behavioural epidemiology of transport behaviours
- Supporting mode shifts for sustainable travel
- Changing transport behaviour to improve health and wellbeing
- Role of behaviour change in injury and accident prevention
- The Social Psychology of Risk* (15 Credits)
Public responses to health risks are informed by the mass media, among other factors. This course examines the link between media treatment of health risks, such as pandemics, and lay responses to these in terms of representation and behaviour.
The module also explores what 'works' in terms of health campaigns devised to engineer change in audience risk behaviours, and finally, the communication of risk in the doctor-patient relationship.
Students will be equipped to focus on forces that shape lay responses to health risks, including behaviour change in the face of such risks.
- Consumer Behaviour* (15 Credits)
Consumer behaviour is an important driving force across modern societies. This module reviews the current state of knowledge regarding themes, core processes, methods, and theories of the psychology of consumer behaviour. Lectures will discuss the psychological determinants of consumer behaviour, exploring the roles played by implicit decision-making, affect and persuasion. The nature and success of techniques and strategies to influence consumer behaviour across a range of industries will also be discussed.
Students will learn how psychological theories and methods can be harnessed to help industry predict, understand, and change consumer behaviour.
- Judgement and Decision Making* (15 Credits)
The behaviour of individuals is strongly influenced by the nature of the judgements and decisions that people make. Understanding psychological models of judgement and decision making can help behaviour change researchers and practitioners to develop interventions to change behaviour.
This module will introduce normative and descriptive models of judgments and choice. Formal models will include the axioms of probability, Bayesian networks, decision theory and game theory. The classic violations of these normative models will be critically discussed, in particular probability biases and choice anomalies. Current psychological models of judgment and choice will be presented, including heuristics and biases; prospect theory; sampling approaches; and the role of emotion in decision making. These will be evaluated and linked with more general principles of cognition.
- Wellbeing in Buildings: Theory and Practice* (15 Credits)
This module introduces basic principles of psychology, sociology and design to illustrate how the perception of and interaction with building factors can impact health, wellbeing and human performance.
It introduces the concept of wellbeing, its relevance/interpretation within various building types, measurement/assessment approaches and relationship with occupant performance/productivity. It takes as its focus the ‘life of the building’ — the interaction between built container, designed artefacts, the digital infrastructure and people — considering how to promote states of wellbeing and design out ill-being. The role of occupant behaviour and of ‘intangible aspects’ such as aesthetics and artwork is also addressed.
- Making Policy Work* (15 Credits)
Policy-makers face day-to-day choices about how to achieve their objectives. They need to know about how to use the resources under their command to get the best results. This course is about how policy-makers can use these tools of government effectively, and what evidence is there about what works most effectively. Methods of evaluating public policy are covered, with a focus on the use of experiments, such as randomised controlled trials.
Different tools of government, like regulation and finance, are considered. There is a focus on practical examples, such as policies on the use of illegal drugs, local economic development and performance management. The final part of the course examines behavioural economics or the ‘nudge’ policy agenda, which is currently often used by governments across the world to improve public policy. At the end of the course, there is usually a class visit to a policy-maker to examine how the tools can work in a practical context.
- Public Ethics* (15 Credits)
Should murderers be executed? Should prisons be abolished? Should cocaine and heroin be legalised? Is pornography a menace to society? Should prostitution be a crime? Do adults have the moral right to physician-assisted suicide? Is it justified to experiment on nonhuman animals if doing so reaps medical benefits for human beings? Do foetuses have moral rights, and if not, should sex-selective abortion be legal?
This module explores some of the most difficult ethical questions that arise in public life. It will give you an opportunity to make up your minds about these and other issues in an intellectual search for the moral principles that ought to govern our approach to crime and punishment. The module begins by assessing the leading theories of criminal punishment and their moral implications for contemporary penal practice. It proceeds by investigating a series of debates about the kinds of conduct that should and should not be subject to criminal sanction.
Each week, we will read and argue with each other about important work in contemporary political, moral, and legal philosophy, applying what we learn to pressing political controversies.
- Social Cognition: Affect and Motivation* (15 Credits)
Emotional and motivational factors are important determinants of behaviour. This module examines the interplay between basic cognitive processes, affect, and motivation in the construction of social reality. It reviews knowledge about how the current states, feelings, and goals of the social perceiver affect judgment and behaviour, as well as how the social context affects the individuals’ ways of thinking, feeling, and regulating their behaviour.
In particular, the module entails an examination of effects associated with mood, embodiment, approach-avoidance motivation, self-regulation, ego depletion and social factors that impact motivation and affect, such as power, status, social exclusion and minority status affect the emotion and motivation. Through the course, students are expected to develop knowledge and understanding of: - how current emotional states and motives affect the construal of social reality - experimental designs in social cognition, affect and motivation - theoretical issues in motivation and social cognition - how the social reality impacts emotion and motivation.
- Energy, People and Behaviour* (15 Credits)
This module introduces students to some of the main social science theories used to understand energy related behaviours and lifestyles and how they could be changed.
Students critically evaluate and compare these theories and critically evaluate their usefulness for energy technology, modelling approaches, and energy policies and programs.
- Human Factors for Digital Health* (15 Credits)
Influencing behaviour using digital interventions is a growth area of health care. The aim of this module is to introduce people to the human factors and design opportunities relevent to digital health technologies. The module is designed for those with an interest in developing and evaluating health technologies, whether as researchers, innovators, regulators, or purchasers.
It is designed to bring together people with different backgrounds (medical, digital health, health technologies, human factors, interaction design) to learn from each other as well as from the formal course syllabus, so is suited to participants from this range of backgrounds.
The module will give people with a background in human factors an understanding of the particular issues that relate to the design and evaluation of digital health technologies, and to equip people with a background in health technologies with the skills to design and evaluate them in a user-centred way.
- Persuasive Games* (15 Credits)
Persuasive games are an increasingly popular way to try to engage and influence behaviour. This module will introduce and discuss the concept of serious games. The course will provide students with experience of the methodologies needed to create a playful intervention and to evaluate its impact. The potential of persuasive games as a method for engaging people with serious issues will be explored across a range of contexts, for example; education & learning, health, citizenship, advocacy and activism. The course will provide students with knowledge of the state of the art in the use persuasive games and with the opportunity to develop skills in using existing design and evaluation methods for creating physical, digital and pervasive games and playful experiences.
*These electives are subject to availability.
- Customising your MSc
Behaviour change theory and practice can be applied to a diverse range of subjects and contexts. We welcome and actively seek to attract students from a diverse range of backgrounds and disciplines, believing that the experience and development of our students, like that of the course team, will be greatly enriched by exposure to a diverse community of people thinking about the subject of behaviour change.
To help you plan your MSc Behaviour Change, we have suggested a number of themes around which you can choose your elective modules. The following are suggestions only and students can always choose their own combination of elective modules. The course team are happy to discuss how to customize your MSc experience to meet your needs prior to signing up for the course.
Health; for students wishing to pursue a career in healthcare, or are already working in healthcare and wishing to develop their understanding of the application of behaviour change approaches in this area. Health and Wellbeing; Making Policy Work, Wellbeing in Buildings: Theory and Practice; Human Factors for Digital Health; Transport Behaviour Change: Theory and Practice; Social Psychology of Risk; Social Cognition – Affect and Motivation Sustainability; for students wishing to pursue a career in sustainability and/or conservation, or already working in this area and wishing to develop their understanding of the application of behaviour change approaches in this area. Transport Behaviour Change: Theory and Practice; Wellbeing in Buildings: Theory and Practice; Energy, People and Behaviour; Making Policy Work; Consumer Behaviour Digital approaches to behaviour change; for students wishing to pursue a career within the digital industries, or already working in this area but looking to develop their understanding of the application of behaviour change approaches to this area Human Factors for Digital Health; Persuasive Games; Health and Wellbeing; Consumer Behaviour; Judgement and Decision Making Policy; for students wishing to pursue a career in the policy domain, or already working within a policy-making capacity but looking to develop their understanding of the potential role of behaviour change in this area. Making Policy Work; Public Ethics; Health and Wellbeing; Judgement and Decision Making; Health and Wellbeing; Wellbeing in Buildings: Theory and Practice Psychology and Behaviour Change; for students wanting to develop their understanding of psychological influences on behaviour change. Social Psychology of Risk; Judgement and Decision Making; Social Cognition – Affect and Motivation
The MSc in Behaviour Change is an excellent foundation for a career in a range of sectors including academia, public and private sector organisations and charities. Employees with knowledge and skills in behaviour change are increasingly in demand across a range of different disciplines. Public and private sector organisations are also turning to the theory and practice of behaviour change to enhance their performance and achieve their objectives. A recent CBC survey found that 94% of employers stated that behaviour change was of central importance to the success of their organisation, and 97% stated that their organisation would benefit from employing an individual with an MSc in Behaviour Change.
On graduation we anticipate students will find work as health professionals, policy officers, researchers and research managers, IT developers and user experience designers, human resource managers, management consultants, urban and transport planners. The range of optional modules available on this programme creates a unique opportunity for students to tailor their degree to their specific interests and career aspirations.
Due to CBC’s extensive networks with external organisations, students will be able to contribute to UCL research programmes which are recognised as having global impact, therefore gaining invaluable experience for future careers across research, policy and practice. Examples of organisations collaborating with the CBC include; Public Health England, Food Standards Agency, Greater Manchester Police, Groundworks, Arup, Quit51, Bupa, Capita and Phillips.
Some of our alumni currently work as:
- Advisor / Behavioural Insights Team (Economy and Work team)
- Behavioural Designer / Cowry Consulting
- Freelance Consultant / Friends of the Earth
- Consumer Behaviour Consultant / Shift Consultancy
- Behavioural Scientist / Schwa
- Human Resources Intern at Universal Pictures International
- Junior Research Executive / Northstar Research Partners
- Global BE Intelligence Consultant / The Behavioural Architects
- Researcher / StoryScience Ltd
- Marketing Manager / Cowry Consulting
- Programme Officer / Korea Future Initiative
- Strategic Lead Behavioural Insights for Public Health / London Borough of Hounslow
- Behavioural Science Researcher / Influence at Work UK
Consultant within Risk Advisory – Risk Analytics / Deloitte
Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.
Who can apply?
We welcome international as well as UK/EU applicants from all backgrounds (e.g. researchers, practitioners, policymakers and recent graduates) who are interested in learning to apply behaviour change principles to a variety of issues (e.g. environment, digital technologies, successful ageing) and sectors (e.g. government, charities, public sector and commercial organisations).
What are we looking for?
When we assess your application we would like to learn:
- why you want to study behaviour change at graduate level
- why you want to study behaviour change at UCL
- what particularly attracts you to this programme
- how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this programme
- where you would like to go professionally with your degree
Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.
- 26 July 2019
More information can be found in the Programmes online prospectus. You can also join our Facebook page and follow our twitter feed @MScbehchangeUCL to keep informed about the latest course developments.
What days of the week will I be expected to attend for teaching?
We do not yet have the exact timetable for teaching. However, all teaching will be within normal office hours within the UCL term times. These are as follows:
UCL Term dates
Autumn Term 2019 Monday 23 September 2019 to Friday 13 December 2019 Spring Term 2019 Monday 13 January 2020 to Friday 27 March 2020 Summer Term 2020 Monday 27 April 2020 to Friday 12 June 2020
What different programmes are available?
- Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) consists of 60 credits, which include three core modules (Changing Behaviour: Intervention Development and Evaluation for 30 credits and Theories and Models of Behaviour Change and Behaviour Change: An Interdisciplinary Approach for 15 credits each).
- Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) consists of 120 credits, which include all four core modules (Changing Behaviour: Intervention Development and Evaluation for 30 credits and Theories and Models of Behaviour Change, Behaviour Change: An Interdisciplinary Approach and Research Methods and Evidence for Global Health for 15 credits each) and three elective modules (15 credits each).
- Masters (MSc) consists of 180 credits, which include all four core modules (Changing Behaviour: Intervention Development and Evaluation for 30 credits and Theories and Models of Behaviour Change, Behaviour Change: An Interdisciplinary Approach and Research Methods and Evidence for Global Health for 15 credits each) and three elective modules (15 credits each). along with a research project (60 credits).
What are the modes of study?
We offer two modes of study: full-time and part-time. The number of credits for each mode of study will vary depending on the programme (see above).
- For full-time study, the required number of credits are undertaken over the course of one year.
- For part-time study, the required number of credits are undertaken over the course of two years.
What are the average contact hours?
There are 10 learning hours per credit, so 15 credits equate to 150 learning hours. For the MSc, there are 1800 learning hours in total, with 450 contact hours. Contact hours are those times when students are expected to attend UCL in person for lectures, seminars or meetings with their research supervisors or tutors.
Do you have a distance learning option?
No. All student must attend module lectures and seminar on UCL campus in London during term time.
Is teaching organised into blocks?
At the moment all of our modules are taught on a weekly basis during UCL term time.
Is the programme taught in the evening or during the day?
Classes only take place during ‘business’ hours – ie between 9 am and 5pm. We are not able to offer evening classes at present.
Is there funding or scholarships available for this course?
At the moment there are no dedicated funding or scholarships available to assist students with the fees for this programme.