Advances in Psychological and Behavioural Science

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Liam Delaney CON.4.07 and Dr Miriam Tresh CON.3.14


This course is compulsory on the BSc in Psychological and Behavioural Science. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

Course content

This course will offer an advanced-level account of applying psychological and behavioural science to real world issues. The course is delivered as four distinct but interlinked blocks.

We will start by re-examining and developing our understanding of the intellectual foundations behind behavioural and psychological science, this will be an opportunity not only to re-consider what was covered in Year 1 and Year 2 in the round but also to develop your depth of understanding. Topics include schools of thought, ethics and interdisciplinarity. In the second block we relate these intellectual foundations to real-world issues. During this block you should expect other faculty from the department to join us and present on their areas of expertise. The specific topics will be relevant and timely and thus will change each year; in previous years they have included COIVD-19 and the psychological and behavioural underpinnings of pandemic relevance; Artificial Intelligence; and Mental Health. We’ll also consider the key issue of scalability and the importance of culture in understanding the impacts of behavioural interventions.

The third and fourth blocks run concurrently. In the third block we will examine real world examples of how behavioural and psychological science has been integrated into policy. The specific topics here will be driven by your interests – we will attempt to find experts in areas that you want to know more about. You should expect to hear from both faculty and professional experts from large organisations around the world. The fourth block sees us look at the process of integrating theory into policy, we do this through the lens of NGBS, our fictious not-for-profit consultancy firm. We’ll talk about how such organisations work, the professional roles available and the type and scopes of projects. The assessments see students applying to work for NGBS and then working on a project.

Throughout the course there will be regular opportunities for synthesis, recap, review and reflection.

By the end of the course you should:

  • Have an in-depth understanding of recent advances in psychological and behavioural science. 
  • Be able to critically appraise the evidence base, tools, and impact of select recent studies. 
  • Have an in-depth understanding of how psychological and behavioural science link to the other social sciences and the real world.
  • Understand how to apply and integrate theories in the real world. 


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, classes and workshops totalling a minimum of 42 hours across Michaelmas, Lent and Summer Term. There is a reading week in Week 6 of both Michaelmas and Lent Terms.

Formative coursework

Students will complete a number of pieces of formative work to cement learning and prepare for summative assessments:

  • Plan for Showcase Portfolio
  • Preparation for the Simulation exercise (either meeting mintues or a summary of your group's research)

Indicative reading

  • Cialdini, R. (2016). Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade. New York: Random House.
  • Halpern, D. (2015). Inside the Nudge Unit: How small changes can make a big difference. London: W H Allen.
  • Lewis, A. (Ed.) (2012). The Cambridge Handbook of Psychology and Economic Behaviour. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Oliver, A. (Ed.) (2013). Behavioural Public Policy. Cambridge: CUP.


Portfolio (50%) in the LT.
Group exercise (50%) in the ST.

Portfolio (50%) in LT – You will develop a showcase portfolio on CampusPress which will be used to apply for a role at NGBS. The portfolio should have two components; a curated set of artefacts and a 3000 word rationale articulating how the artefacts show your key insights and skills. The artefacts can be chosen from your summative submissions in Year 1, 2 and 3 or formative work from Year 3.

Group Exercise (50%) in ST – As a group, you will prepare for and take part in a simulation day. The simulation will see you work, in your roles as professionals at NGBS, to produce a white paper and presentation that addresses a clients project request. The simulation will take place during summer term, in London.

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2021/22: 28

Average class size 2021/22: 14

Capped 2021/22: No

Lecture capture used 2021/22: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills