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DTC2001 : Health Psychology and Behaviour Change

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Rachel Stocker
  • Lecturer: Ms Roisin Devaney, Dr Chris Penlington
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module aims to introduce students to the area of health psychology and health behaviour change, placed in the context of dietetic practice. It focuses on how psychological principles may be applied to understand and alleviate problems of illness, suboptimal-health and health-related behaviours at various levels, from individual to group to population. Both initiation and maintenance of health behaviours will be covered, and the practical effectiveness of some theoretical approaches considered. Practical consultation skills in health behaviour change will be introduced and developed using simulations and role plays. The psychology of typical and ‘abnormal’ eating will be explored, including a consideration of health behaviours and long-term health conditions encountered in clinical practice.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics covered will include:

• Introduction to health behaviour change: what is it and why does it matter to dietitians?
• Health behaviour in context: biopsychosocial factors.
• Introduction to theories of behaviour change and maintenance.
• How are behaviour change theories applied and (how) do they work in practice?
• Psychological perspectives on how and why we eat.
• Psychological perspectives on disordered eating behaviour.
• Practical skills in health behaviour: education and communication.
• Practical skills in health behaviour: motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioural techniques.
• Health behaviour and long-term health conditions: impacts and opportunities.
• The role of the psychologist.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00Reading for, and preparation of, 1500-word case study.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture91:009:00PIP - Interactive lectures
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials41:004:00Non-synch online delivery of teaching materials and activities to support student learning
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading125:0025:00Reading for lectures.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops22:004:00PIP – Interactive workshops debating health campaigns and real life patient stories
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops32:006:00PIP - Interactive workshops on acquiring and applying practical health behaviour change skills
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery12:002:00Online sync – Assessment Q&A and support tutorial
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Present in person interactive lectures and informal classroom discussions and tests present a systematic perspective on the topics, allow students to check their knowledge and understanding as they go, and prompt deeper consideration of, and debate around, key psychological issues in clinical dietetic practice. Three sets of non-synchronous material will require students to engage with lecture materials and recorded interviews with academic subject experts, then engage in guided discussion threads on the topic.

Present in person small group workshops will prompt students to apply knowledge from lectures to hypothetical patient case studies of incrementally-increasing complexity. This provides the opportunity to practice key skills for the summative case assessment as well as demonstrating the wide-ranging applicability of the knowledge gained. Workshops will also allow students to share peer-feedback on rough plans for their summative assignment. Online workshops will use break-out rooms to continue the small-group work and discussions initiated in the in-person sessions.

Independent study time will be used to prepare the summative assessment and undertake directed research and reading, in order to consolidate expected knowledge and skills.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Case study2M1001500 word health behaviour change case study
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Prob solv exercises2MInformal class tests during interactive lectures
Prof skill assessmnt2MPeer feedback during small-group activities in workshops
Assessment Rationale And Relationship


In the 1500-word summative case study, students will be expected to propose and justify their approach to health behaviour change for one of two possible hypothetical patients (individual student’s choice, vignettes provided). They will be expected to consider (i) the biopsychosocial factors affecting the patient’s eating behaviour, (ii) any long-term conditions, and (iii) appropriate approaches to the communication of risk. Students will then set out practical psychological approaches and strategies for supporting the patient in behaviour change and maintenance. This component will give students the opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have acquired during the module in the application of behaviour change theories and psychological knowledge about eating behaviours.

Throughout the module’s workshops students will engage in role play activities, complete reflections, and have the opportunity to engage in discussions that will help support summative coursework development.

The workshops will also provide opportunities to give (and receive) constructive, informal peer feedback on emerging skills in communication and in discussing health behaviour as part of the role plays undertaken.

MDiet candidates must obtain an overall mark of 40 or above to pass the module, however, if the module has more than one assessment students must also achieve a mark of at least 35 in each component of the assessment to pass the module.

Reading Lists