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.
The Management of Special Education in Developing Countries is a full-time programme for teachers, administrators and non-governmental organisation staff who are working in special education in developing countries and who wish to develop their management or leadership expertise. Although most students are not from the EU, this course is also suitable for UK/EU students.
The Management of Special Education in Developing Countries programme is for teachers, administrators and NGO staff who are working in special education in developing countries and who wish to develop their management or leadership expertise. The programme combines modules in Special Education with modules in International Studies in Education, using theory and practice from both in order to enable participants to improve management practice in the national context in which they work. A research dissertation also enables participants to put together management and special education in a uniquely relevant way for them.
This International Studies in Education programme has been taught at the School of Education for 50 years, and the School has one of the largest SEN departments in the UK. In consultation with tutors, you will choose modules totalling 100 credits from those available in the International Studies in Education and Special Education programmes, with a minimum of two modules from either field. You will also need to take the Researching Education module. A research dissertation will enable you to put together management and special education in a way which is uniquely relevant way for you.
The course permits a choice of modules from the International Studies in Education, and Special Educational Needs, courses. Students attend regular lectures and seminars for the first two terms, have personal dissertation supervision for the third term, and are assisted to access a wide range of library and online learning resources. The course is assessed by coursework assignments and a dissertation, and topics can be chosen to match the interests, expertise and needs of students. Some students do fieldwork for their dissertation in another country, but this is not a requirement. It is helpful if students have experience of working with disabled children in different countries, and bring relevant materials, which are not available online, for their coursework, e.g. printed project evaluations, reports in local languages, health education materials, photos and videos.
The MA in Management of Special Education in Developing Countries is ideal for graduates who wish to develop their management or leadership expertise within special education. Upon completion of this course, you will have experience in managing a variety of learning needs within your school and support colleagues to take a more inclusive approach in their own pedagogy. =
With this Master’s degree, graduates will become eligible to apply for a range of international posts in relation to SEN, Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR), and project management. Sites such as ‘Devnet’ and ‘UN Jobs’ provide many examples of relevant opportunities. The degree does not give qualified teacher status in the UK or elsewhere, but is a valuable additional qualification for those who have a relevant first degree (e.g. international studies, psychology, social work, development studies, public policy), and/or a teaching or health care qualification.
There is the opportunity to work towards a further professional qualification in the field of Education both within schools and in other settings, including progression to a PhD. The excellent careers advice provided by personal tutors has encouraged many of our graduates to successfully apply for leadership roles related to inclusion and diversity in schools and other educational settings. These include: lecturers, policy developers, head teachers, special educational needs coordinators and managers of community and charitable organisations.
As contemporary societies become more heterogeneous, and as inclusive education reforms gain currency across the world, educational systems are being challenged to address some fundamental questions about teaching and learning related to the accommodation of and respect for difference.
Underpinning the movement for inclusion is a concern for social justice and wellbeing. Meeting the diverse needs of learners within today's schools, colleges and universities, is one of the most challenging and important tasks facing education today.
This thoroughly revised Master's degree is unique not only because of the disciplinary approaches it employs, but also because students study and apply an approach to wellbeing that has been developed by some of the world’s leading thinkers.
This is an approach that is internationally recognised by, for example, the UN, and whose principles are increasingly found in government policy on education and SEN, namely the Capability Approach. We are one of the very few institutions in the UK to offer this practical and ethical approach to assessing issues of SEN, equality and inclusion.
The skills you will develop include critical thinking skills and how best to be an inclusive practitioner. Importantly, this is a professionally based degree which means that you will apply what you have learned to your own professional practice whether you are a classroom assistant, SENCO or university lecturer.
◦As a prestigious Russell Group University, Queen’s is ranked 8th within the UK in relation to research intensity;
◦ Education at Queen’s has been ranked 4th within the UK in relation to research intensity with 87% of the research undertaken within the School assessed as ‘internationally excellent or world leading’ (REF, 2014);
◦We provide a professional development opportunity for: mainstream primary and secondary teachers from the newly qualified phase of professional development onwards; and, individuals whose professional or voluntary roles are strongly associated with life in regular classrooms and schools e.g. School Governors, Learning and Behaviour Mentors and Classroom Assistants;
◦We understand the many demands on students’ time, so the content is delivered in a mixture of face-to-face and online formats and you can study one or more of our modules as a short course;
◦If you don’t want or need to study for the research dissertation, flexible exit qualifications (PG Diploma, PG Certificiate) are available.
The MEd in Inclusion and Special Needs Education is awarded to students who have successfully completed 120 CATS points from taught modules and 60 CATS points from a Master's dissertation.
Exit qualifications are available. Students may exit with a Postgraduate Diploma by successfully completing 120 CATS points from taught modules or an Postgraduate Certificate by successfully completing 60 CATS points from taught modules.
We've made it easy to study for a Masters module as a short course. If you would like to study for one of the modules in the MEd in Inclusion and Special Needs Education as a short course, please contact the Postgraduate Secretary (tel: 028 9097 5923/5032, [email protected]) for advice.
Core Modules (compulsory, all 20 CATS points):
An Introduction to Research Methods: Children, Young People and Education (online)
This module will provide you with an understanding of differing perspectives that underpin quantitative and qualitative methodologies and is required preparation for your research dissertation.
Reimagining Special Needs Education: Inclusive Pedagogy
We will focus on deconstructing Special Needs Education and Inclusion by exploring how some popular approaches and behavioural theoretical models have influenced our understanding of SEN. Much of the ‘knowledge’ of special education is, arguably, misconceived and promotes inequality, rather than addresses it. In examining the consequences of, for example, labeling, we will consider a powerful rationale for inclusion based on theories of social justice.
Special Needs Education and Issues of Equity
We will examine how stereotyping and prejudice contribute to forms of ‘epistemic injustice’ whereby what certain groups of people know is given less credibility and weight simply because of their disability, sex, class or ethnicity. The testimony of members of stigmatized groups is likely to be discounted because of prejudicial beliefs and attitudes, which can magnify the effects of injustice as well as create others. Our judgments, as we will learn, are likely to be affected by implicit biases even when we think we’re making judgments of scientific or argumentative merit. The effects of such epistemic injustice is the marginalisation and exclusion of already vulnerable such as the disabled, the working class, women, and people of colour.
Social Justice in Special Needs Education and Inclusion
We will explore some of the complexities of understanding equality in education and sketch some of the flaws with popular approaches to, and conceptions of disability and SEN. While all systems across the world espouse equal entitlement to education, the precise content of this goal is difficult to determine and agree upon. One approach which has emerged with considerable power and application is the Capabilities Approach (CA). The CA is an evaluative framework that entails two core normative claims: first, the claim that the freedom to achieve well-being is of primary moral importance, and second, that freedom to achieve well-being is to be understood in terms of people’s capabilities, that is, their real opportunities to do and be what they have reason to value.
Two optional modules may be chosen from the Educational Studies (MEd) degree.
There are no written examinations. Modules are assessed through a written assignment of 3000 words that is informed by the student’s own professional practice and experience.
The Special and Inclusive Education MA will develop a student's knowledge of key concepts and issues related to special and inclusive education, enhancing their understanding of disciplinary and theoretical perspectives. It will give students the ability to analyse, evaluate and synthesise evidence, theory and practice, and help them to apply conceptual and theoretical frameworks to professional policy and practice.
By the end of the programme, students should be able to:
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of two core modules (60 credits), and either two optional modules (60 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits) or three optional modules (90 credits) and a research report (30 credits).
In addition to the two core modules students take at least one module from the following:
Students choose either one or two further options from the list above or, subject to the Programme Leader's approval, from elsewhere at the UCL Institute of Education.
All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a 10,000 to 12,000-word dissertation or 6,000 to 7,000-word report.
Teaching and learning
The MA is taught through lectures, group discussions, small group one-to-one tutorials, and computer lab classes. Compulsory and optional modules are assessed by a range of assessment strategies including presentations and a 4,000-5,000 word written assignment; students may choose from a range of assessment titles. In addition, students may choose to write either a report (6,000-7,000 words) or a dissertation (10,000-12,000 words).
NB: This MA is not a teacher training programme and does not aim to train students via school-based training and teaching placements.
Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Special and Inclusive Education MA
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
Graduates of this programme are currently working across a broad range of areas. Some are working as managers in mainstream and special schools and other educational settings, while others support those with special educational needs and disabilities directly. Graduates can also be found working as staff in specialist services for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities.
Recent career destinations for this degree
Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2013–2015 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.
This programme provides students with the opportunity to study in one of the country's leading specialist departments in special educational needs and disability, and educational psychology, working with internationally recognised tutors who have published widely in the areas of special education, inclusion and disability studies, and who contribute to Master's and doctoral programmes worldwide.
The programme team is committed to creating an intellectually challenging context in which students are encouraged to discuss practical knowledge, experience and ideas in order to extend their understanding of special and inclusive education.
This programme attracts students with rich and varied professional and personal experience, both nationally and internationally, and fellow students provide a valuable networking resource.
The University of Birmingham is a Department for Education and National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) approved provider for the National Award for SEN Co-ordination.
It has been running accredited (Masters level) professional development programmes for special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCos) for over 15 years. Over a thousand SENCos have successfully completed their training over this period and given excellent course feedback!
The University runs partnership versions of the National Award for SEN Co-ordination course with the following Local Authority partners: Birmingham; Dudley, Sandwell & Wolverhampton (combined cohort); Staffordshire (Entrust).
Within these Local Authority areas teachers wishing to apply for a place on the course work in a range of maintained mainstream schools, maintained nursery schools, academy and free schools, and pupil referral units (PRUs).
SENCos working in other neighbouring Local Authority areas may also be able to join one of the partnership courses (in 2014-2015 for example, SENCos from Derbyshire, Herefordshire, Solihull, Telford and Wrekin and Warwickshire were participating in versions of the course).
This Masters level course (60 credits) has been updated to reflect changes to the NCTL learning outcomes framework. It is also closely aligned to the changes taking place to special educational needs and disability policy, provision and practice in England including the changes to SEN Code of Practice (2015).
We are currently recruiting to this programme. The programme is inviting applications for the following cohorts.
The National Award is a mandatory qualification, 60 Credit Masters level course which all SENCos who are new in role must undertake. The course meets the requirements of the SEN Code of Practice (2015 Section 6.86).
The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations (2014) states:
(1) The appropriate authority of a relevant school must ensure that the SENCO appointed under section 67(2) of the Act meets all of the requirements in either paragraph (2) or (3).
(2) The requirements in this paragraph are that the SENCO:
(3) The requirement in this paragraph is that the SENCO is the head teacher or acting head teacher (or equivalent in the case of an Academy school) of the school.
(4) Where a person becomes the SENCO at a relevant school after 1st September 2009, and has not previously been the SENCO at that or any other relevant school for a total period of more than twelve months, the appropriate authority of the school must ensure that, if the person is the SENCO at the school at any time after the third anniversary of the date on which that person becomes a SENCO, that person holds the qualification.
The training courses are 12 months in duration; however, SENCos have up to three years from the point at which they are designated as a SENCo in which to complete the award. Final responsibility for ensuring the school’s compliance lies with the school’s governing body.
The course is designed to support a SENCo’s professional development, giving them an opportunity to reflect upon and improve their practice whilst learning more about the coordination of special educational needs, leadership and management, policy and supporting the individual needs of children and young people.
The course content is related to local and national contexts and the teaching and learning opportunities are delivered by local and nationally based experts such as experienced teachers, Educational Psychologists, school leaders, Inspectors, therapists and service leads.
The National Award covers:
The teaching takes place over ten face to face days during term-time. The days are evenly spread over the school year and sessions are taught in local authority/school centres and at the University of Birmingham. In addition, all students have access to the online virtual learning environment and full library facilities to support their learning.
The assessments have been designed to meet the requirements of the course and enhance school self evaluation procedures.
Specific assignments - course participants all need to complete three 4000 word written assignments at Masters Level:
This course will enable SENCos to meet essential requirements for undertaking the role in English schools. These requirements are set out in regulations and state that:
Governing bodies of maintained mainstream schools, maintained nursery schools and the proprietors of Academy (including Free Schools) must ensure that there is a qualified teacher designated as SENCo for the school.
The SENCo must be a qualified teacher working at the school. A newly appointed SENCO must be a qualified teacher and where they have not previously been the SENCo at that or any other relevant mainstream school for a total period of more than twelve months , they must achieve the National Award in Special Educational Needs Coordination within 3 years of appointment.
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 programme aims to develop participants' professional knowledge and critical understanding of key concepts; and debates addressed in the academic and professional literature in order to lead and co-ordinate special educational needs and disability (SEN and D) provision across an educational setting.
By the end of the programme students should be able to:
Students undertake modules to the value of 60 credits. The programme consists of two core modules (30 credits each).
6 days' attendance per module, 9.30-4.30 - usually on alternate weeks over two terms
There are no optional modules on this programme.
Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials. Each module is delivered over six days. A Learning Log needs to be completed as the practical component. Assessment is through a practitioner enquiry assignment for both modules consisting of 4,500-5000 words each. The focus is on the practitioner as researcher within the participants’ own education institution.
Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: National Award for Special Educational Needs Co-ordination PG Cert
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
Upon successful completion of this programme, students are able to transfer the 60 credits into UCL's MA in Special and Inclusive Education or MTeach in Special Educational Needs.
This programme will prepare participants for progression to employment as SEN co-ordinators or for senior leadership roles within schools in a variety of settings.
This programme is run by the Department of Psychology & Human Development - Centre for Inclusive Education, formally SENJIT (Special Educational Needs Joint Initiative for Training) at UCL, which has a national and international profile in delivering Master's programmes in special educational needs (SEN). It is delivered by specialists who currently practise in the field along with researchers with international profiles in SEN, disabilities and inclusion.
Students will get the opportunity to meet regularly with colleagues working in different local authorities in London and further afield.
The Centre for Inclusive Education (formerly SENJIT) offers research-informed and practice-orientated courses and knowledge exchange activities and fosters strong links with local authorities, academy federation trusts and teaching school alliances.
The Inclusion and Special Educational Needs programme is part-time and is designed for students who wish to study a range of modules relating to Inclusion and Special Educational Needs (ISEN). The programme is delivered in a variety of modes:
ISEN aims to enable in-service teachers, school leaders, policy leaders, and others working directly or indirectly with children with disabilities in the UK, Europe, and around the world to study across a broad spectrum of inclusion and special educational needs.
There are three core modules within the ISEN programme which you will need to complete in the first year. These modules are Cross-Cultural Issues in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, Evaluation and Policy Analysis for Inclusive Education, and Inclusion: Individual and group differences. The aims of these modules are as follows:
Taking these three modules will give you credits for a 60 credit PGCert (ISEN), and will enable you to then follow a more specialist pathway in year 2 (PG Diploma) where you will benefit from studying on our existing programmes such as Autism, LLD (Language, Literacy and Dyslexia), and SEBD (Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties). In year 3, as an MEd student you will work towards completion of your dissertation under the supervision of University of Birmingham staff.
You may also be interested in these programmes:
The Inclusion and Special Educational Needs (ISEN) programme is part-time and in years one and three is completed wholly online. In year two, the programme is either distance learning or blended learning depending on the pathway taken. Blended learning consists of a mixture of both campus-based and distance learning elements.
Please note that we require you have at least 2 years professional experience in the areas you wish to study before you can be considered.
Studies can take between 1 – 6 years, depending the level of study and the individual situation of each student, however most master’s level students complete within 3 years.
This programme is designed to supplement professionals already working in the field, or those seeking a general introduction to topics within inclusion and special educational needs. In general, this includes teachers, education advisors, special educational needs coordinators, head teachers in schools, managers of community and charitable organisations, support workers in places such as a university or workplace disability service unit, social workers or nurses providing care for persons with disabilities, or a staff member of a Ministry of Education or Ministry of Health, amongst other things.
There is the opportunity to work towards a further professional qualification in the field of Education, which includes progression to a PhD or EdD. Many of our graduates successfully apply for roles working with children and young people with special educational needs.
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.