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Course content

The overall aim of this programme is to create academic, professional, and personal development opportunities for those concerned with both the practice and experience of living and/ or working with autistic individuals across all ages and settings.

You engage in informed critical reflection and enquiry to develop and influence practice and policy in your current and/or future contexts. You are supported to identify a relevant knowledge base drawing on theoretical and research literatures, policy and policy critiques, practice guidance and practitioner networks. Through the programme, you identify your own and others' values and assumptions in contributing to socially just policy, inclusive and ethical practice for people with autism.

If you are from a professional background the course supports you in developing a range of academic skills, a professional knowledge base and employability skills that link closely to your specialism and career goals. If you are interested in this course from a personal perspective as an autistic individual, a parent or carer, we support your developing understanding of the autism spectrum.

This course is ideal if you are

  • coming to this course from a personal perspective as an autistic individual, a parent, carer, or ally
  • a graduate interested in a career in the field of autism
  • currently working with autistic individuals or communities

The MA Autism Spectrum is designed to provide a supportive, challenging and inclusive learning experience. You experience and engage in a variety of learning activities as they progress through the course. We have designed a balanced range of activities to recognise the diverse range of experience and expertise of our students. Teaching and learning involves tutor-led seminars, workshops, participant-led activities, group and peer discussion, self-directed study, and independent reading. You take part in both face-to-face and online learning throughout your studies.

The structure of the course recognises the developing skills of a postgraduate student becoming an independent, critical learner. As such, the course begins by developing skills of critical reflection and evaluating evidence, progressing towards the knowledge and skills to develop your own ethical and inclusive research enquiry in the final year.

Typically you study

  • how the autism spectrum is conceptualised situated within broader disability debates
  • how autism might affect how people experience the world around them
  • how to critically analyse policy and practice in relation to autism to work towards inclusive, enabling and socially just ends for autistic communities
  • research design, ethics and methods for developing inclusive enquiry in the field of autism

Course structure

Part-time – typically one year to certificate, two years to diploma, three years to masters, maximum six years

Modules are delivered in a variety of ways, including taught sessions and online. Typically, this includes some modules taught in the evenings once a week over eight weeks and others taught in a series of day schools and online. Please note, there are taught sessions in Sheffield throughout the course, though not always on a regular basis.

For groups of 15 students or more, it may be possible to deliver the course at your organisation if it is in the local region.

Modules :

The modules you take depend on whether you are pursuing a PgCert, PgDip or MA. 

  • Critical reflections on the Autism and Asperger Syndrome
  • Autism, policy and practice
  • Autism, challenging behaviour and communication
  • Reflecting on Professional Practice
  • Educational Enquiry


Assessment varies between modules but includes a mixture of professional work-based tasks and academic and critical reflection. There are no examinations.


The course provides a relevant qualification for anyone holding or intending to hold a position related to autism. As this is a part-time course, students are often studying alongside their own career progression. Graduates often go on to progress in their organisation or take on further responsibility as the result of their studies and acquired skills.

Visit the Autism Spectrum MA/PgDip/PgCert page on the Sheffield Hallam University website for more details!




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