Module code: PSYM176

Module Overview

Human behaviour is at the heart of all 17 UN Sustainabie Development goals. Achieving good health and wellbeing, for example, requires that people adopt behaviours that have a positive impact on their physical and mental health, such as eating a healthy diet or taking regular physical activity, and responsible consumption and production requires that people consume resources carefully. Some goals, such as no poverty and gender equality, necessitate changes in the behaviour of government and policymakers responsible for creating and implementing policy. Achieving the 17 Sustainable Development goals requires an understanding of why people act as they do, and how to change behaviour in ways that support sustainability.
This module will provide you with a cutting-edge understanding of core theories and concepts within behaviour change science, and the skills and methods needed to translate, and reflect on translation of, behavioural science into real-world contemporary sustainability contexts. You will be introduced to a range of different theoretical and practical approaches that can be used to understand and address many problems relating to sustainability and sustainable development facing global citizens. The module covers both theories and concepts that underpin modern understandings of human behaviour and behaviour change, and methods for systematically developing and evaluating behaviour change initiatives. The module supports employability by helping you to think systematically and critically about the application of behavioural science theories, concepts, methods and skills to different contemporary sustainable development domains.

Module provider

SOL - Sustainability, Civil and Env Eng

Module Leader

GARDNER Benjamin (Psychology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 94

Tutorial Hours: 6

Guided Learning: 40

Captured Content: 10

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Disciplinary perspectives (e.g., psychology, behavioural economics), theories and models (e.g., expectancy-value models, reasoned action perspectives, dual process theories), key concepts and principles (e.g., motivation, environmental influences, habits) in behavioural science, and their utility for understanding and changing behaviour in sustainability contexts.

  • Theory- and evidence-based methods for changing behaviour.

  • Behaviour change intervention development frameworks (e.g., the Behaviour Change Wheel) and their potential application to UN Sustainable Development goals.

  • Critical analysis of behaviour change theory, research and real-world applications to sustainability contexts.

  • The role of behavioural science in creating sustainable development policy and practice, and in wider society.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Intervention outline and critical reflection 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to:

  • Provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of behaviour change theory and methods and how it may be applied to understand and change real-world sustainability-related behaviours.

  • Allow students to demonstrate transferrable reflective, critical, and presentational skills.

The summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • An individual written assignment.

The assignment requires students to (a) outline, for a non-specialist audience, a behaviour change intervention that they have designed to address a real-world sustainability problem, and a credible plan for evaluating the intervention, and (b) demonstrate critical awareness of the behaviour change theory and evidence they used to design the intervention.
Formative assessment:

  • Students will be given the possibility to complete an online test at the end of each unit so as to gauge their level of knowledge.


  • Written feedback on students’ formative assessment will be provided to help students address the summative assessment.

Module aims

  • Equip students with a critical understanding of how researchers have attempted to influence behaviour in a broad range of sustainability contexts, and the challenges involved in doing so.
  • Develop students' knowledge and ability to apply and synthesise core theoretical frameworks, concepts and methods for understanding and changing behaviour in sustainability contexts.
  • Develop students' practical, research and transferrable skills, and experience of deploying these skills, to understand and change behaviour.
  • Equip students with the skills to draw on theory and research and design, implement, evaluate, and critically reflect on a behaviour change intervention to address a contemporary real-world issue.
  • Support students to reflect and critically engage with issues impacting real-world behaviour change practice and research.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 The student will be familiar with the core theories, models and frameworks in behaviour change. KC
002 The student will have developed awareness of how behaviour change principles can be applied to real-world problems relevant to UN Sustainable Development Goals. KCPT
003 The student will be able to evaluate the success of applications of behaviour change science to real-world problems relevant to UN Sustainable Development Goals. KCPT
004 The student will have developed an ability to communicate behaviour change principles and applications to specialist and non-specialist audiences. KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • Develop knowledge of core theories, concepts and methods in behaviour change science.

  • Develop skills in synthesising and applying behaviour change theories, concepts and methods to real-world sustainability contexts.

  • Develop reflective and critical analysis skills.

  • Develop communication skills.

  • Encourage students to consider the skills useful for becoming a behavioural science practitioner.

  • Make students aware of contemporary issues impacting the development and application of behavioural science in sustainability contexts.

  • Develop students' ability to critically evaluate behaviour change research, practice and policy.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Key readings.

  • Online interviews and videos.

  • Live chats and discussions.

  • Behaviour change intervention development workshops.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: PSYM176

Other information

The School of Psychology is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas:
Digital capabilities: Students must engage with multiple digital skills during the course, including (but not restricted to) use of: CANVAS; online search engines to identify appropriate sources for their work; electronic bibliographic databases to store these sources; and selection and use of software for appropriate communication and presentation of ideas to a range of audiences (e.g., Word, PowerPoint, Prezi).
Employability: This module supports students’ employability skills in that it trains them in key practical skills, including understanding and critical reflection on the application of behaviour change theories, concepts, and strategies to various real-world domains. Domains have been selected to encompass a range of sustainability-relevant behaviours and settings, including health and the environment, to increase awareness of areas in which behaviour change is persistently core. The assessment requires the student to design a behaviour change intervention for a student-selected population, and to critically reflect on the design, feasibility and potential effectiveness of this intervention. This requires the accumulation, synthesis and application of knowledge of behavioural theory, and in-depth knowledge of one or more specific domains. The student must not only be knowledgeable about their chosen area of application, but also communicate information to peers, specialists and non-specialist audiences, and critically evaluate their work, all of which are key transferrable skills highly valued by employers.
Global and cultural capabilities: This module focuses on a range of contemporary behaviour change challenges, including those that people the world over and within many different cultures experience and must manage, and so students cover many global challenges. Students will learn about a range of different theoretical and practical approaches designed to address common sustainability issues, rooted in human behaviour, which currently face global citizens. Students are encouraged to think about the cultural contexts in which behaviour change interventions are design, implemented and evaluated.
Resourcefulness and Resilience: This module provides several opportunities to develop resourcefulness and resilience, and assessments play an important role in this pillar. Students must be resourceful because they must select a contemporary sustainability challenge to research and to which to apply behaviour change theories, principles, and strategies. They must also critically reflect on their intervention. Extant behaviour change initiatives and evidence are discussed and critiqued, and formative feedback is provided on students’ ongoing intervention development project work. Together, these activities are designed to instill confidence and will enable students to reflect on a positive outcome which will build resilience.
Sustainability:The module is designed to cover a range of contemporary issues rooted in human behaviour that map directly on to multiple UN Sustainable Development Goals. For example, coverage of health promotion addresses the goal of Good Health and Wellbeing, and environmental preservation speaks to Responsible Consumption and Production, Sustainable Cities and Communities, and Climate Action. In considering how to address real-world problems in a manner that produces equitable benefits for all, students also encounter challenges that speak to goals of Gender Equality and Reduced Inequalities. Students are taught to recognise opportunities for behaviour change among policy gatekeepers, such as government and policymakers, as a means of addressing SDGs such as Quality Education and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Sustainable Development in Practice (Online) MSc 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2025/6 academic year.