The Special Educational Needs (SEN) programme investigates issues involved in the education and development of children and young people with learning difficulties, disabilities and disadvantages. Our programme is founded upon a commitment to forms of education which enable the participation, learning and development of all.
Students studying on the programme engage with aspects of theory, policy and practice relevant to international and local contexts. With its international profile, this programme brings together teachers and other professionals working directly with children and young people with learning difficulties, disabilities or disadvantages, as well as policy-makers and managers in areas of SEN and Inclusive Education.
On the MA Special Educational Needs, students choose between two distinct pathways, Inclusive Perspectives or Psychological Perspectives, which reflect different theoretical traditions and approaches to practice, provision and policy within the field of special educational needs, disability and inclusion. Both pathways are relevant to mainstream and special education contexts.
The Inclusive Perspectives pathway emphasises the application of inclusive and person-centred values and critical educational analysis. Concepts and theories such as person-centred education; participation and ‘voice’; the social model of disability and difference; and human rights and equalities are used to consider educational practice, provision, policy and systems relating to pupils experiencing difficulties in educational settings.
The Psychological Perspectives pathway emphasises the use and application of psychological theories. Concepts and theories of cognition, educational testing, and social and emotional development are central in developing psychologically informed understandings of children and young people experiencing difficulties in educational settings.
Students greatly benefit from engaging with the insights, experiences and perspectives of other course members, from a diverse range of contexts and backgrounds. The combination of their own experiences, insights gained from others on the course and the theoretical resources offered by learning within the modules, enables students to deepen their understanding of, and to be able to challenge, the barriers that hinder the learning, development and participation of children and young people with learning difficulties, disabilities or disadvantages.
The teaching provided on modules is informed by active research and scholarship in the field of Inclusive Education and SEN practice and policy. All lecturers leading modules on the programme have high level specialist qualifications, teaching and leadership experience in the field of Education, SEN and Inclusive Education.
All students complete a common module which takes a broad view of key perspectives and issues in SEN, it also introduces the psychological and inclusive perspectives. From here, students undertake specialist modules within the programme, depending on their chosen pathway.
Inclusive Perspectives Pathway content: Students critically explore the issues involved in children’s behaviour using sociological approaches. You will reflect on your own and society's beliefs about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ behaviour, which often relate to medical and psychological foundations of schools’ policies and practices. The social pedagogical approach is also explored as a basis for inclusive teaching and learning. A critical analysis of instrumentalist/functionalist approaches to teaching is developed with a view to enhancing holistic development and the participation of pupils as a means of addressing barriers to the inclusivity of the classroom.
Psychological Perspectives Pathway content: On this route students engage with the idea that socially and emotionally well-adjusted students perform better at school, whilst social and emotional aspects of learning have become marginalised in a highly competitive education system. The use of psychometric testing is covered, with an exploration of its appropriate uses (students can gain a Certificate of Competency in Educational Testing, accredited by the British Psychological Society, from successfully undertaking this module).
Optional modules are available to students on both pathways which focus on Dyslexia as a Specific Learning Difficulty and on Autism in Education. Students also have an option, instead of taking a taught optional module, to take a (non-taught) Independent Study module to learn about a specific issue relevant to their pathway and interests, which is not taught about in the programme.
The final module is an independent research-based enquiry (either a Dissertation or Practice-Based Research Project), which is founded upon the pathway perspective chosen, but is also subject to the student’s choice of topic.