The modern literature regarding the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) supports the distinction between self-efficacy (SE) and perceived behavioural control (PBC, Ajzen, 2002). This study compared an extended TPB model (ETPB), incorporating a measure of SE, against the more traditional theory of reasoned action (TRA) and TPB models. In the historically recent context of fair participation and equal opportunity legislation, undergraduate behavioural intentions to apply to the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) for employment were explored in terms of: model superiority; the underlying motivational and belief determinants; religious and gender differences. Using structural equation modelling techniques, the overall ETPB model: provided a better fit than either the TRA or TPB variants; exhibited no religion or gender differences, paralleling current NICS employment profile data (EOU, 2002, 2003); and, accounted for 60% of the variance in behavioural intentions. Notwithstanding concerns regarding TPB construct measurement issues, these results provide additional empirical evidence in support of the SE and PBC distinction, and the incorporation of the former within the TPB model. However, descriptive analyses of the underlying motivational and belief determinants of intentions indicated that the students were unimpressed with several perceived NICS employment outcomes and indifferent in their intentions to apply. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.