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Special Educational Needs and Inclusion (Autism Pathway) MA/PGDip/PGCert

Course Description

This programme is aimed at people interested in developing their knowledge and skills in the field of autism spectrum, including Asperger syndrome. This specialist pathway is ideal for professionals working in early years, primary or secondary schools, further and higher education, voluntary sector, advisory roles, and residential settings. It would also be available (subject to entry qualifications) to people with a personal interest, for example individuals on the autism spectrum and family members.

Course content

This programme provides in-depth knowledge and understanding of various aspects related to autism. The modules place specific emphasis on understanding autism from the individual and their family perspective. Theoretical perspectives related to autism and learning are explored in order to better understand the strengths and needs of individuals. A thorough analysis of evidence based approaches will be included in order to evaluate best practice in this field. The aim of the programme is to help participants to reduce the barriers that individuals with autism face in education and wider society. Participants will be encouraged to critically reflect and analyse their practice.

The modules undertaken will vary depending upon the selected exit award (PG certificate, diploma, MA). Each module is 30 level 7 CATs points, the final Dissertation is 60 CATs points. Students progressing to MA will undertake a Research Methods module and will complete a dissertation as part of their study.

Course modules (16/17)

-Understanding Autistic Spectrum Disorders
-Autism in the Early Years
-Understanding Challenging Behaviour in People with Autism and/or Learning Disabilities
-Evaluating Approaches for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
-Research Thesis
-Research Methods

Students on PG Diploma or MA will study another optional module such as Key concepts in Inclusion or Understanding Severe and Profound Multiple Learning Difficulties. Students on the MA route will then complete an independent research project, either the Dissertation on its own, or the Research Thesis and Research Methods modules together.

Methods of Learning

Modules will be taught through a combination of approaches such as lectures, seminars, group work, case studies, tutorials and independent enquiries. A key strength of our programme is our blended learning approach. This provides the opportunity to learn collaboratively both face to face and online.


For this programme taught study would be a combination of lectures, seminars and online activities which is usually 3 hours per week, per module. We recommend students to spend 10 hours per week, per module in self-directed study time.

PG Certificate– one year full time or between one to two years part-time.

PG Diploma– one year full time or between two to three years part-time.

MA – one year full time or between two to four years part-time.

September, 2016/ 2017, Full-time and Part-time.


Assessment procedures are flexible and sensitive to either personal interests or existing professional workloads. Modules are assessed on the basis of essays, case studies, portfolios or reports and small-scale research projects.

Facilities and Special Features

Facilities available
-Virtual Learning environment.
-Fantastic library facilities.

Special features
The course is taught by senior lecturers who have extensive professional experience of working with individuals on the autism spectrum across the age and ability range. In addition, lecturers have an extensive research background.


If you are already working in the field of autism then the in-depth knowledge you will gain from this programme can help you to improve your practice or apply for management positions. A range of other career options in education, social care and voluntary sectors will be possible, such as being an advocate, learning mentor, or family adviser. For those who want to pursue further post-graduate research there is also a possibility of studying for a PhD.

Work Experience - For students who do not have any practical experience in the field, optional opportunities to visit settings can be arranged.

Visit the Special Educational Needs and Inclusion (Autism Pathway) MA/PGDip/PGCert page on the University of Northampton website for more details!

Entry Requirements

An honours degree from a UK institution or equivalent. Students who have gained credits at M Level 7 from the University of Northampton or from other universities can apply to use these towards the MA SEN and Inclusion (Autism) if they can demonstrate that their studies have been in the field of autism. International students should be able to show that they have the required English proficiency (minimum 6.5 IELTS score).

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Recipient: University of Northampton
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