Masters degrees in Special Needs Education offer training in the alternative teaching methods used to assist individuals with special needs and disabilities, across all levels of education.
Taught MA courses are typical for the field, though research-based MRes and MPhil programmes may be available at some institutions. Shorter qualifications such as Postgraduate Certificates and Diplomas may be more suited to current professionals wishing to expand their Special Needs Education (SEN) knowledge.
Courses in this field explore the pedagogical theory and practical techniques used to improve learning and academic efficiency for students with learning difficulties, illnesses or other disabilities.
From primary and secondary schools, to further and higher education, you will examine the governance, curriculum standards, and learning processes aimed at teaching and assisting disabled individuals.
Careers in this field are highly varied and often very rewarding, with the chance to make a real difference to disadvantaged pupils and students. Traditional roles include support services within education institutions, consultancy for schools and universities regarding special needs policy, and positions within funding bodies which assist disabled students.
Other careers may include improving access for special needs individuals in alternative educational formats, such as museums, publishing, and childcare services.
If you need to get a good grounding in special educational needs, disability and inclusion at postgraduate level, this course will broaden and challenge your existing knowledge. It could be a starting point for a future career in a range of settings or help you to develop in your current role. If you are already a SENCO it will give you many skills for your role and help you develop and expand this in line with the range of special needs you may encounter.
Our course doesn’t aim to provide you with all the answers. Instead it will enable you to explore and develop new thinking and ultimately work towards expertise in your field. If you believe that pupils with special needs have untapped potential, and you want to help them explore this, then this is the course for you. Inclusive learning and teaching are at the heart of any good practice; these modules will help you explore this further and understand the important role of nurturing development in all pupils with special educational needs.
You do not need a teaching qualification to study on this course, nor do you have to intend becoming a teacher. We welcome anyone who wants to expand their understanding, knowledge and skill set in the changing world of special education and disability.
You’ll have the opportunity to explore how the education system works for special needs and disability, how it all evolved and the challenges it poses for these pupils. You’ll broaden your knowledge on the range of conditions and their impact on learning and develop new teaching skills to help pupils overcome their day to day challenges. The focus of all modules will be critical thinking, challenging and developing your knowledge to enable you to become an expert in your field.
This course has been developed for those who are currently working as special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) and is mandatory for all SENCOs appointed since 2008. This course will enable you to meet the learning outcomes as prescribed by the government.
You about skills and approaches to leadership; and to develop and evaluate inclusive cultures, systems and approaches to education. These new skills help you to make a difference in your school and to the wellbeing, participation and achievement of children and young people who have special educational needs and disabilities.
You reflect on, analyse and respond to current issues of practice through professional learning in the workplace and you are supported by experienced local special educational needs and disability (SEND) professionals as well as a mentor in your own school.
You have access to current SEND practitioners and experts in the field who share up-to-date practice. Your university tutors specialise in SEND and have complementary experience across age phases and special and mainstream schools. Their expertise supports your understanding of inclusive principles and practice, using research and theory to support your reflections, enquiries and study skills.
You complete a number of assessments that are focused on the development of effective practice in your school. Assessments consist of two practice-based portfolios
Portfolio 1 – SENCO as manager
This consists of
Portfolio 2 – SENCO as leader
This consists of
For more information regarding our routes into teaching, including funding, placements, QTS skills tests and career prospects visit our teach site.
12 months part-time
You attend up to ten teaching/tutorial/study days which are spread over the course duration.
This module enables special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) to engage critically with their management role evaluating, reporting on and developing policy, systems and provision in the context of national legislation and guidance, current knowledge on effective practice and wider equality and human rights agendas.
This module enables special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) to engage critically with their leadership role in the context of the principles of inclusion, person centred planning and working in partnership with colleagues, children and young people and their families.
Modules cover • inclusive principles and values • social and medical modules of disability • the role of the SENCO in analysing organisational needs and managing change • the national policy context for SEN and disability including the SEN Code of Practice • equality and data protection requirements • formulating and reviewing policy • accessing and interpreting school data - tracking progression and participation • provision mapping • designing, evaluating and reporting on systems and provision • lesson study and action research methods • rights and duties under equality legislation • person centred planning and partnership working • the local context for the implementation of Child Assessment Framework (CAF), school support and Education Health Care Plans (EHCPs) • leadership • role of the SENCO in leading professional learning • holistic assessment • researching and evaluatiing current knowledge and debates regarding high incidence special educational needs and disabilities • theories of learning and development • identifying needs and barriers to learning and participation • systematic evaluation in professional contexts
Portfolio 1 – evaluation and review of policy, and analysis of additional provision for children and young people with SEN.
Portfolio 2 – evaluation of partnership with stakeholders, and planning for strategic professional learning.
This course enhances your skills as a special educational needs co-ordinator so you can continue to improve the school experience for children with SENs or disability and to support the developing practice of other professionals working in your school or setting. It also develops your leadership skills, enabling you to explore whole issues and development. It is also suitable if you want to work in an advisory or support role in the area of SEND.
Academic credits gained by successfully completing this course can be used towards a masters degree.
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.
Required modules for both routes
The Programme supports and enables:
This specialist education pathway seeks to investigate the complexities around the concept of inclusion. Study is focused on those who might experience marginalisation in society, particularly in educational contexts.
There is a strong emphasis on finding ways to develop inclusive curricula to meet the needs of all learners including, for example: those defined as having special educational needs; travellers; those from challenging backgrounds; and ethnic minorities.
MA in Education, Inclusion and Special Needs can be studied one year full-time, or up to five years part-time.
You study three core modules:
And a specialist module focused on inclusion and special needs.
You then complete a 60 credit dissertation which will allow you to identify and examine a topic of interest to you.
You may leave the programme after stage 1 with a Postgraduate Certificate in Education or after stage 2 with a Postgraduate Diploma in Education if you have earned sufficient credits.
* All modules are subject to availability.
Our Masters students explore a range of current educational practice, looking at key issues and policy.
Graduates leave with reflective and practical skills and the knowledge they need to contribute to their chosen learning community.