School of Education

MA Special and Inclusive Education (Online) student and alumni profiles

These reflective accounts describe why Manal and Sarah chose to study at the University of Nottingham, their experience of the course and how it has helped develop their career. 


Manal Ali - MA Special and Inclusive Education (online) studentManal Abdul Wahed Sharif Ali

Year of graduation: 2023
Home country: Yemen


Why did you choose this course?

I was looking into enhancing my research skills in inclusive education and reading difficulties, together with gaining knowledge in other areas such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and this matched the course offered by Nottingham. The university’s ranking speaks for itself, nevertheless, as my work in inclusion projects involved literacy and reading disabilities with a social orientation, the course seemed relevant offering a range of topics within special education. That is, the modules were a good balance of the areas within my interest and an opportunity to develop good research skills.

How do you hope this course will help with your career or future study?

The course structure offers a balance between theoretical foundations while linking inclusive education to historical and social issues, meaning the wider context. It honed my research skills as it offered various reading materials where essential references were introduced before moving to dense literature. The activities involved criticality and self-reflection which I personally think is an essential part of stepping up to masters level. The course has provided me with well-grounded research tools where I drew on other experiences in Yemen to bring fullness to learning and research. I hope to further the review I conducted for my dissertation by collecting empirical data in the near future and using these experiences towards a PhD or more work within educational research. 

Was there a particular module that you enjoyed the most?

I enjoyed Communication and Literacy as I could relate to the topics and contextualise them. The module was interesting and the type of topics addressed were practical. I also enjoyed the research module as it was a good introduction to research and involved skills I was hoping to gain in the course.

What was the best part of the course?

Exchanging ideas with my group and working on the final research project - my dissertation. When I studied the research module it provided a good grounding in the type of skills required for the qualitative inquiry I was planning for my dissertation. It involved discussions and assignments which simulated the work for the final assignment. The dissertation was an incredibly informative experience as constructing the scaffold involved criticality and deep thinking which I think is what makes an MA unique in a way.  

How have you been supported on the course?

Support at Nottingham encompassed an excellent interactive syllabus as in every unit a couple of relevant activities were integrated. This included the forum where discussions were held with the student cohort and tutors. The learning materials were interesting and elicited further reflection and research. Assignments, which tutors gave feedback on, were informative and gave insights about the final assignment for each module. All this incredibly supported my progress through the course. I would like to emphasise that I received excellent support during my dissertation and was fortunate to have a diligent and knowledgeable supervisor.

How did you manage to balance studying with your job (and personal life)?

As each module is divided into units, I utilised the university’s recommended hours for studying and distributed my work over weeknights. I usually worked a bit more over weekends close to deadlines. Journaling and keeping notes of module work is extremely useful to reflect on coursework in general. Modules are interrelated and it becomes evident closer to the dissertation.

Why do you think students should come to the University of Nottingham to study this course?

It is a very well structured and informative course. It also gives working educators the flexibility of studying while working; the course at Nottingham is a well-rounded one.

Do you have any advice for someone considering this course?

Remaining active on the forum, communicating with tutors, effective note taking, and utilising a reference manager to organise journal articles and research work, were key to my learning experience. Module activities when conducted effectively, can support a teacher with personal learning and professional development.

Anything else you'd like to add about the course or your time studying at the university?

As a mother to two children who had to leave work for a certain amount of time, I truly appreciate having had this opportunity to launch myself into a good teaching position and hopefully research in the near future. I have thoroughly enjoyed this course and the experience altogether. 


Sarah Arthur - MA Special and Inclusive Education (Distance Learning) studentSarah Arthur

Year of graduation: 2020
Home country: UK



Why did you choose this course?

I appreciated the flexibility of the course, also the modules looked interesting and practical in nature. As I was working as a teacher and SENCO already within an international school when I applied, it seemed like a good fit. 

How has the course helped you in your career?

It has helped to get the knowledge and qualifications that contributed to different roles I’ve had over the years (I started in 2016 and finished in 2020 and worked in three different schools/roles over that time period). In particular the knowledge gained helped as a co-teacher within inclusive international schools and having the qualification also made me feel more confident about taking on the learning support team leader role in a larger and more established school this academic year.  

Was there a particular module that you enjoyed the most?

They were each useful in their own way. ‘Communication and Literacy’ was very practically useful, as was ‘Relationships and Behaviour’. 

What was the best part of the course?

I enjoyed the discussions with other practitioners around the world and in various settings and learned a lot from them and their various perspectives. Although the dissertation was hard work, I also enjoyed the opportunity for independent research and analysis.   

What do you want to do now you've completed your degree?

I’m currently working as a teacher and team leader for learning support within an international school in an African country. I plan to stay working within education and inclusion, although in what capacity may change. I would be interested in doing further research and/or training for teachers in the future

Why do you think students should come to the University of Nottingham to study this course?

Tutors were supportive, approachable and knowledgeable. I cannot speak about going to Nottingham physically as I did the entire course via distance. However I found the course to be well organised, with ample opportunity to discuss with other students. I appreciated that there were not many ‘live’ sessions meaning it was much easier to organise around my schedule, even with working full-time and having a family.     


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