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Behaviour Change Interventions: Introductory Principles and Practice

Explore behaviour change frameworks, and how they can be used to enable behaviour change in yourself and others.

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Learn how to change important behaviours in your personal or professional life

People all over the world are facing multiple serious threats to their well-being. From global warming to the burden of chronic disease, there is a need for different disciplines and professionals to work together towards a common purpose of helping people to behave differently.

On this course, you’ll be supported to think about problems in terms of behaviours and apply principles and practices that can enable change.

Discover why behavioural science is important

Using frameworks based on behavioural science, you’ll learn a systematic method for developing interventions.

You’ll consider how to define a behaviour, and then see how to distinguish behaviours from what influences them and the outcomes they lead to.

Explore behaviour change tools

You’ll be introduced to three behavioural science tools, understand how they link together, and how they can be applied. You will also learn how to select key behaviours from a ‘system’ of behaviours.

As you find out how to think about behaviours in their context, you’ll conduct a ‘behavioural diagnosis’ to understand what influences them, and develop appropriate intervention strategies.

To understand behaviours and design interventions to change them, you will become familiar with the Capability Opportunity Motivation – Behaviour (COM-B) model, the Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW), and the Behaviour Change Techniques Taxonomy (BCTT).

From behavioural science interventions to policies

Behavioural science experts at UCL will guide you through different types of behaviour change intervention and related policy options.

You’ll leave this course understanding key principles and practices of behaviour change. You’ll learn how to apply these to the problems you want to tackle and emerge confident about how to change behaviours for the better.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds Behaviour. Life, society and the future of our species on this planet depends on human behaviour. Some behaviours improve life, society, and our environment. For example, eating healthily, washing our hands, and buying local in-season foods. Other behaviours are damaging, for example, smoking, littering plastic waste, and driving cars that pollute.

Skip to 0 minutes and 39 seconds My name is Susan Michie. I’m Director of the Centre for Behaviour Change at University College London, known as UCL. UCL has a long tradition of applying science to the big problems facing the world, including health inequalities, pandemics, and the climate emergency. Behaviours don’t occur in a vacuum but are influenced by other behaviours, a system of behaviours. So we can think about whose behaviours might need to change. It is often difficult to change behaviours and to sustain that change. But there is a science of behaviour change that can point the way as to how to do this most successfully. This course is relevant to everyone’s behaviour.

Skip to 1 minute and 26 seconds You’ll have practical examples from the real world so that you can link up the principles of behaviour change with the practice. We will introduce you to frameworks and tools to help you think about behaviour and to design interventions and policies to enable people to change their behaviour. Throughout the course, you will have plenty of opportunity to test out your understanding of the key concepts, discuss how they apply to your areas of interest, and reach out for help and support from both your peers and the experts. And you’ll even get the chance to talk to academics in a live session at the end of the course.

Skip to 2 minutes and 9 seconds If you’re interested in the science that underpins strategies to enable behaviour change, then this is the course for you.

What topics will you cover?

The course is based on the Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW) framework which provides a method for intervention design. Specifically, learners will be introduced to three behavioural science tools and understand how they interlink and can be applied as a system in order to select target behaviours, conduct a behavioural diagnosis and develop intervention strategies and policies to change behaviour. The three tools are the Capability Opportunity Motivation – Behaviour (COM-B) model, the Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW) and the Behaviour Change Techniques Taxonomy (BCTTv1). It covers the following topics:

  • Defining and selecting behaviours to change
  • An introduction to the COM-B model (a theoretical model that can be used to understand influences on a target behaviour)
  • Applying the COM-B model to understand influences on a target behaviour (conducting a behavioural diagnosis)
  • Intervention Types and Policy Options and how to select amongst them as part of intervention design
  • Behaviour Change Techniques (BCT) and how to select amongst them as part of intervention design

This course is designed to be completed across a four week period. Content will be released week by week and the course will close with a live Q&A session with the educators in week four.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify potential targets for behaviour change.
  • Describe a specific behavioural problem in terms of what needs to change: capability, opportunity and/or motivation and use the COM-B model to describe the influences on a target behaviour.
  • Apply the Behaviour Change Wheel to develop strategies for behaviour change.
  • Evaluate and select specific Behaviour Change Techniques within those strategies.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for learners who would like an entry-level understanding of behaviour change. If you want to know more about behaviour and how to change it to create a healthy and happy population, and a sustainable world, this course is for you.

Who will you learn with?

Dr. Danielle D'Lima is Associate Professor and Teaching Lead at the Centre for Behaviour Change, University College London. Her background is in Health Psychology and Implementation Science.

Susan Michie, FMedSci, FAcSS, FBA is Professor of Health Psychology and Director of the Centre for Behaviour Change at University College London. She is co-Director of UCL’s MSc in Behaviour Change.

Dr. Paul Chadwick is an Associate Professor at the UCL Centre for Behaviour Change where he works on the development of interdisciplinary approaches to behaviour change

Lecturer, researcher and consultant in behavioural science with a specialism in digital health interventions.

Dr Lou Atkins PhD CPsychol AFBPsS leads the Centre for Behaviour Change Australasian Hub. Lou is a researcher, trainer and consultant in behaviour change intervention design and evaluation.

Who developed the course?

UCL (University College London)

UCL was founded in 1826. It was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, and the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it.

What's included?

This is a premium course. These courses are designed for professionals from specific industries looking to learn with a smaller group of like-minded individuals.

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you're eligible
  • Download and print your Certificate of Achievement anytime

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