BSc Psychology

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Lifestyle Behaviour Change

Unit code PSYC31212
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Division of Psychology and Mental Health
Available as a free choice unit? No


Health psychology is ‘the scientific study of psychological processes of health, illness and health care’ (as defined by The Division of Health Psychology, The British Psychological Society).  Health Psychology is a division of the British Psychological Society and health psychologists currently work as practitioners and researchers in many environments including the NHS and academia.     



Building on previous knowledge (see recommended PSYC21032 and PSYC21042, the unit aims to:

- Make students aware of the career path of a health psychologist and the work health psychologists are likely to be engaged in

- Provide students with a clear understanding of the relationship between lifestyle behaviours a and health

- Enable students to understand, evaluate and discuss the application of psychology to understanding choices regarding lifestyle behaviours

- Present students with several different health psychology models and explain their use in the prediction of lifestyle behaviours

- Highlight the real-life application of psychology to behaviour change interventions for unhealthy lifestyle behaviours

- Advance students’ ability to apply theoretical models in health psychology to developing ‘real world’ interventions.


Teaching and learning methods

There will be 12 x 2 hour lectures, 12 x 1 hour seminars (involving discussions, activities and groupwork) and 12 x 1 hour reading groups (looking at relevant papers). E-learning provision: Lecture content, supplementary reading and resources, and a monitored discussion board will be provided via Blackboard. Feedback will be provided on the coursework essay before the exam.


Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand the relationship between lifestyle behaviours and health outcomes
  • Describe several behaviour change techniques and understand their role in health interventions that aim to change unhealthy lifestyle behaviours
  •  Demonstrate knowledge about the current evidence-base of the key aspects of lifestyle 
  •  Understand the importance of evidence-based interventions
  • Recognise the career pathway of a health psychologist

Intellectual skills

  • Evaluate contemporary health psychology research on at least one lifestyle behaviour
  • Critically assess the theoretical usefulness of several health psychology models in the prediction of lifestyle behaviours

Practical skills

  • Perform literature searches
  • Identify the key issues regarding lifestyle arising from the literature lifestyle and be able to summarise into research questions    

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Design a health-promoting intervention based on a theoretical framework and to write it up as a research proposal
  • Engage in structured group discussions about lifestyle, health and real-world interventions
  • Understand the link between Government policy, the commissioning of healthcare and the role of psychology.

Assessment methods

2 Hour Exam worth 50% of the unit. 

Intervention Assignment 1500 words worth 50% of the unit.


Feedback methods

A blackboard discussion board will be activated for the unit so that students can post questions.  This will be checked every two days and responses made by the unit lead.  Coursework will be marked and full feedback will be provided before the final exam so that it can be used to inform exam preparation.


Recommended reading


The Psychology of Lifestyle: Promoting healthy behaviour (2009).  Thirlaway, K., & Upton, D. NYC: Routledge. 

Health Psychology, Second edition (2010) Edited by David French, Kavita Vedhara, Ad Kaptein and John Weinman. BPS Blackwell Blackwell publishing Ltd

Health Psychology, (2008) In the Topics in Applied Psychology series. By Charles Abraham, Mark Conner, Fiona Jones and Daryl O’Connor. Hodder Education.

Health psychology: A textbook. Third edition (2004) Jane Ogden, Open University Press.



British Journal of Health Psychology

Psychology and Health

Health Psychology

Journal of Health Psychology

Psychology, Health and Medicine.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 24
Practical classes & workshops 12
Seminars 12
Independent study hours
Independent study 152

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Debbie Smith Unit coordinator

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