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. In tandem with developing a sound theoretical understanding of health psychology, each week we will couple the theory content with an insight into its practical, real world application. These in-practice sessions will be delivered by health researchers from a broad range of current practice. From them and from our Health Psychology team, you will learn about the practicalities of conducting health research. We will bring to the classroom some recent and on-going intervention studies in areas as diverse as altered eating in head and neck cancer survivorship to how to deal with the health impacts of misinformation. 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
How to put together a grant proposal for funding.
Individual lectures from researchers describing their intervention development work.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn by participating in interactive lectures. There will be a two separate lecture each week, one focussing on theory, one on practice. Each lecture will last approximately 90 minutes. 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 and from the clinical and research work of the tutors . You will also be encouraged to participate in journal club style events, where you will work in groups to critically assess and present current health psychology theory and practice. You will also be given practical guidance around grant writing and get introduced to what intervention looks like in clinical health psychology.

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 ability to include a variety of relevant stakeholders in your research, and the ability to make the design, conduct and dissemination of it accessible to them
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 and ethical frameworks

How will I be assessed?

Summative assessment:
There will be one summative assessment at the end of the semester.
This will be an assignment in which you will be expected to demonstrate your knowledge of health psychology theories and how they are put into practice.. In this assignment you will put together a real-world research proposal which should demonstrate your ability to systematically design and evaluate an in-practice health psychology intervention using a theoretical framework to design, conduct and/or evaluate it. This will assess MLOs 1 to 5. Feedback will be provided in writing on blackboard, 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 12 months full-time
1 other options available

Department Psychology

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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