PY0770 - Health Psychology in Theory and Practice

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will learn that the impact of behaviour on health is one of the key areas of health policy concern in the 21st Century, and that health psychology is at the heart of how the state is trying to get us to live longer, healthier and happier lives. Understanding the theory and practice of health psychology will give you the knowledge and skills to understand and design behaviour change interventions. You will learn that a range of factors contribute to how we behave, and you will look in detail at how health psychology theories have attempted to systematically develop and apply this understanding. Having developed a sound theoretical understanding of health psychology in semester 1, in semester 2 you will hear from health researchers how they apply it in the real world. You will learn about the practicalities of conducting
health research through looking at a number of recent and on-going intervention studies in a variety of health complaints and health behaviour contexts. By the end of the module you will have learned how to use health psychology, in theory and in practice, to improve people’s lives.

Some specific topics covered include:

Economic, cultural, social and psychological determinants of behaviour
Key health psychology theories such as the theory of planned behaviour
Theoretical frameworks for developing, describing and evaluating psychosocial interventions
Individual lectures and workshops from researchers about intervention development and evaluation.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn by participating in interactive lectures and workshops. You will be encouraged to engage in debate within the class, and be given the skills to discuss and dispute the concepts, theories and models that are presented. Theoretical concepts will always be linked to practical real-world examples, drawn from on-going health psychology research. You will also be encouraged to participate in journal clubs, where you will work in groups to critically assess and present current health psychology theory and practice. You will also be given some practical workshops, around grant writing and basic clinical skills, that will enhance your overall professional skills

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported in learning during this module by taking part in interactive lectures and workshops, where discussion, feedback, small group work, and group discussion will form part of the learning culture. The University’s e-learning portal will direct you to content that will help you explore topics brought up in the lectures, and you will be encouraged to use the modules discussion board to further explore these topics.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. You will be expected to demonstrate a critical understanding of how non-psychological factors contribute to individual, group and population behaviour as it relates to health
2. You will be expected to be able to describe and critically evaluate the key health psychology theories that are currently leading health research and policy.
3. You will be expected to describe and critically evaluate existing frameworks for developing, describing and evaluating behaviour change interventions
Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
4. You will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of equality, diversity and inclusion issues in research and an ability to meaningfully include a variety of relevant stakeholders in your research
Personal Values Attributes:
5. You will be expected to have the knowledge and skills to develop and design novel health psychology research, which is cognisant of professional practice, ethical frameworks and equality, diversity and inclusion good practices.

How will I be assessed?

Summative assessment:
There will be two summative assessments, one at the end of each semester.
The first assessment will be a 4000 word essay in which you will be expected to demonstrate your knowledge of health psychology theories and your ability to critically evaluate them. This will assess MLOs 1 and 2.
The second assessment will be a 4000 word assignment in which you will put together a real-world research proposal which should demonstrate your ability to systematically design and evaluate a novel health psychology intervention that meets the needs of an underrepresented group or population, or explicitly considers how underrepresented groups will be meaningful included in the research.
This will assess MLOs 3, 4 and 5.
Feedback will be provided in writing on the assignment script, detailing the main areas of strength and areas for improvement in your assignment. Additionally, a summary of the average marks with more generic feedback will be given in-class and via the e-learning portal.





Module abstract

In the 21st-century many of us are becoming ill because of our own behaviour. At the same time treatment of many health complaints is no longer just a matter of administering a drug, but involves changing the way physical health complaints are managed, both by patients and healthcare professionals. As such, a theoretical and practical understanding of what makes us behave the way we do, how this can impact on our health, and how we can change this, is crucial to understanding modern healthcare. This module will also make you aware that you are currently surrounded by incentives to change your behaviour, to be fitter, happier and more productive. These government policies and health initiatives all have health psychology at their core. Understanding health psychology, both in theory and in practice, will allow you to critically evaluate this new healthcare landscape, and give you the knowledge and skills to shape it.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 2 years part-time
1 other options available

Department Psychology

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2023

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future. Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


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