Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health Professions


Behaviour Change

Module titleBehaviour Change
Module codeHPDM123Z
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Dr Jenny Lloyd (Convenor)

Professor Sarah Dean (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

From health education to policy as a health intervention, our understanding of the tools available to us to improve health behaviour continues to grow. This module will open with a discussion about human decision making and how we can harness these processes to promote population health, before looking at a range of behaviour change theories, structural interventions (including ‘nudges’ and large-scale policy initiatives)and frameworks to design behaviour change interventions. By the close of the module you should expect to understand how health and behaviour evolve in complex systems, and consider the likely course of interventions that seek to improve health. You should expect to be assessed using authentic methods for scientific communication, in which you will consider multi-level behaviour change approaches to address a specific public health problem, with attention to the role of complexity in shaping the effectiveness of these interventions. This module is delivered by distance learning via our online platform. Teaching will draw on a range of high-quality recorded lectures, interspersed with consolidation sessions, workshops and group work. Synchronous sessions will be held via Teams or Zoom.

Module aims - intentions of the module

You will understand key theories and applications of behaviour change.

You will understand how individual and group behaviour change interventions are developed and applied.

You will be introduced to a range of structural public health interventions that impact behaviour at a population level.

You will study how these are applied across different population groups and environments.

You will critically evaluate how the processes and practices of these interventions impact population behaviour and health.

You will characterise the role of implementation and sustainability in the long-term effectiveness of public health interventions.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate an understanding of key behaviour change theories and concepts at the forefront of improving health behaviour at the population level
  • 2. Critically review contemporary debates around structural behaviour change interventions and large scale policy and regulatory initiatives

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Critically examine how to operationalise behaviour change approaches in public health and critically appraise the scientific literature related to public health behaviour change initiatives, including complex systems thinking.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Demonstrate a professional ability to present an evidence-based and balanced academic stance.
  • 5. Communicate evidence to a range of stakeholders in an accessible and concise manner

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, an example of an overall structure is as follows:

  • Understanding public health problems and human decision making Individual, group, organisational and structural level theories of behaviour change
  • Frameworks for designing, evaluating and implementing complex behaviour change interventions to improve population health
  • Measurement issues in public health at individual, community and environmental levels
  • Public health and behavioural economics

Possible seminars will include:

  • Applying behavioural insights for policy makers and practitioners
  • Connecting communities to improve population health: case study

Throughout the module reference will be made to specific public health issues or populations, including current research conducted at the University of Exeter.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning & teaching activities15Delivered over six sessions of 2-3 hrs
Guided independent study85Session preparation and follow up work utilising resources provided on ELE
Guided independent study50Reading and assignment preparation
Face-to-face scheduled lectures will delivered via MS Teams/Zoom, with learning consolidated by self-directed learning resources and ELE activities. Small-group discussion in tutorials and seminars will be delivered by synchronous group discussion on Teams/ Zoom; or asynchronous online discussion.


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Class discussions and small group work activitiesEach synchronous session1-4Facilitator and peer feedback in class
Plain English Summary of proposed poster topic300 words1,4-5Facilitator and instructor feedback; whole-class feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Poster with annotated bibliography100A0 poster, two sides of A4 for annotated bibliography 1-5Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Poster with annotated bibliography (100%)Poster with annotated bibliography (A0 poster, two sides of A4 for annotated bibliography)1-5Typically within six weeks of the result

Re-assessment notes

Please refer to the TQA section on Referral/Deferral:


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Blankenship, K.M., Bray, S.J., & Merson, M.H. (2000). Structural interventions in public health. AIDS 14(S1): S11-S21.

Michie, S., West, R., Campbell, R., Brown, J., & Gainforth, H. (2014). ABC of Behaviour Change Theories. Silverback Publishing.

Michie, S., Atkins, L., & West, R. The Behaviour Change Wheel: A Guide to Designing Interventions. Silverback Publishing.

Moore, G., Evans, R.E., Hawkins, J., Littlecott, H., Melendez-Torres, G.J., Bonell, C., & Murphy, S. (2019). From complex social interventions to interventions in complex social systems: Future directions and unresolved questions for intervention development and evaluation. Evaluation (Lond). 2019;25(1):23–45. doi:10.1177/1356389018803219

O’Cathain, A., Croot, L., Sworn, K., Duncan, E., Rousseau, N., Turner, K., Yardley, L., & Hoddinott, P. (2019). Taxonomy of approaches to developing interventions to improve health: a systematic methods overview. Pilot and Feasibility Studies 5:41.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources


Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Human health, environment, health, public health, global health, climate change, environmental change, sustainability, adaptation, mitigation, renewable energy, one health, policy.

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date