School of Education

MA Special and Inclusive Education alumni and student profiles

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


Shaaira Jogot - MA Special and Inclusive Education studentShaaira Jagot

Year of graduation: 2023
Study: Full-time
Home country: Malawi 

Why did you choose to study at the University of Nottingham?

I always wanted to complete a masters programme in special needs education and Nottingham was one of the universities I applied to. The course structure was appealing to me and the optional modules on communication, literacy and autism were exactly what I was looking for in my professional development as a primary school teacher. The School of Education is well known for it’s education research and after reading about who the lecturers were and their areas of expertise, I was very excited to learn from their experiences in this field. I have also known many students that have left Malawi to study here, and they have always shared positive reviews about the university and living in Nottingham. I was definitely influenced by my cousin’s experiences here as an undergraduate many years ago. 

How do you hope this course will help with your career in the future?

I will now be qualified to work as a special needs education teacher who can support students and teachers with inclusion in mainstream schools. This was my initial goal, but as the course progressed we were encouraged to investigate education policies within our home countries, and now I am considering perhaps working with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) such as UNICEF that have a direct impact on inclusion policies and special education teacher training within Malawi. I would love to pursue a PhD to enhance special education research within Southern Africa as there are many research gaps that can be explored, but I am yet to figure that out. I feel that I would be confident in guiding teachers on how to support the needs of different students and can now create/implement support plans for students with additional needs in mainstream schools.

Was there a particular module that you enjoyed the most?

Debating Special and Inclusive Education was very eye opening. As our class was so diverse, it was very interesting to see most students coming into it saying “my country is not doing anything to help students with disabilities”. After being encouraged to research the history of special needs education within our contexts, it became clear that it is very complex depending on the location and there is no black and white answer, but there are some countries in the world that are doing better than others. I had never heard of the medical vs social model of disability and what stayed with me was the message that we should design our societies whilst keeping the needs of people with disabilities in mind and not design societies and then consider them as an afterthought.

What was the best part of the course?

Having such a diverse class was very special. Nationalities included Greek, Cypriot, Norwegian, Thai, Indian, Chinese, South African, Nigerian, Sri Lankan, and more. We were all encouraged to share what we know; some of us were already teachers and able to share our experiences of curriculums, schools and share best practice, whereas others had just finished their undergraduate degrees and could share their knowledge on theory and research. The lecturers were accommodating, respectful, compassionate and considerate of our varying backgrounds in education. It was very evident that their knowledge was coming from many years of working in schools and other areas of education. I feel that I learned just as much from my classmates that I did from the lecturers.

How have you been supported on the course?

If I had any questions after class, lecturers were always willing to hang back and help. They responded to emails quickly and made suggestions during academic tutorials on how to structure our assignments or suggest theories/researchers to look into. Student Services is always available for any technical questions or queries outside the course. I have also attended many library sessions online that have helped me refine research ideas, improve the structure of my essays, understand how to complete research more effectively, how to use online referencing tools and how to write more critically. There were other resources available too such as English language support that I did not get around to using. 

Why do you think potential students should chose this course?

If they are looking for something different to classroom teaching like I was then they should consider it. I feel a lot more knowledgeable than I was at the beginning of the course. This area of education is very interesting and necessary if we are to implement more inclusive practices around the world. It will make you feel more passionate about advocating for the needs of anyone with a disability and more prepared on what you can do to help.

Do you have any advice for someone considering the course?

Read as much as possible! It really helps you keep up with discussions during lectures – if you don’t, you won’t have much to contribute to these talks and then you are missing out on learning from your classmates’ perspectives. Send the university an email to ask about any questions you might have, I remember doing that beforehand and was satisfied from the responses I got.

Anything else you'd like to add about your course/time studying at Nottingham?

The city of Nottingham is beautiful. Coming from Malawi, I did not anticipate how green the different campuses are and how much conservation there is around the university. People are welcoming and I have felt safe during my time here. I wish the course was longer than just a year because it has gone by so quickly. After doing my undergraduate degree and PGCE online, having a face-to-face experience at university was everything I imagined it to be and more. The University of Nottingham really has been the perfect choice.


Thobile Sibiya - MA Special and Inclusive Education studentThobile Hlobisile Accurate Sibiya 

Year of graduation: 2023
Study: Full-time
Home country: South Africa (RSA)


Why did you choose to study at the University of Nottingham?

As a developing researcher and learner, I was looking for a university that would contribute massively on my academic and personal growth. I did my research and discovered that the University of Nottingham is one of the best universities in the UK, but what stood out the most for me was the extensive support provided to international students in areas such as accommodation, finance, admission, academics and so on. I then realised that the University of Nottingham will be a perfect space for growth in most areas of my life. 

How do you hope this course will help with your career in the future?

As a qualified professional educator I needed an extensive or broader understanding of the special and inclusive education spectrum as I have witnessed that schools sometimes lack skilled and knowledgeable personnel in that area, and because of this course my understanding in the field of special education and inclusivity has grown immensely. I wish to pursue my studies next year and do my PhD in special and inclusive education for more growth, understanding that we are all life-long learners in the field of academics. Most importantly I now feel that sense of readiness in terms of working as an educator in schools.   

Was there a particular module that you enjoyed the most?

I actually enjoyed all the modules. I found all of them useful, there has been something new to learn in all of them but the one that stood out the most for me was Debating Special and Inclusive Education. It is so rich in content and as the first module on the course, I must say it was really an eye opener to a lot of things as far as special and inclusive education is concerned. 

What was the best part of the course?

Because there are so many international students enrolled in this course, the ideas are always diverse and rich. I also appreciate the respectful environment fostered by the staff who deliver the course content; you always feel valued and not judged. It is also worth mentioning that being taught by staff that are highly knowledgeable in special and inclusive education has really advanced my love for reading as a scholar and as a researcher. They are a great inspiration to us all.  

How have you been supported on the course?

I love that we were all assigned academic and personal tutors who helped us navigate the course and are really encouraging. Knowing that they are always available to assist anytime is really helpful and it makes you realise that everybody wants you to succeed. 

Why do you think potential students should chose this course?

If they know that they desire growth in the field of special and inclusive education then this is the course to take, it is so rich in content and the level of support available for students is amazing, everybody wants to see you succeed. So they should join the School of Education family soon. 

Do you have any advice for someone considering the course?

In life nothing comes easy, you must be willing to work for your own growth, have that hunger and drive to know more and you will succeed in this course. Support and guidance is available to help you navigate everything. As I have mentioned above everybody wants to see you succeed!!!    


Jiaying Li - MA Special and Inclusive Education studentJiaying Li

Course: MA Special and Inclusive Education
Year of graduation
: 2021
Home country: China



Why did you choose this course?

I chose the University of Nottingham because it holds a high reputation around the world. I also liked the structure of the course, it was well organised and allowed you to choose optional modules according to your interest and your future career plan.  

How has the course helped you in your career?

This course has helped me with my critical thinking a lot. The ‘Debating Special and Inclusive Education’ module required me to consider some issues of special education from different perspectives. It pushed me to think outside of box to some extent. Moreover, hearing diverse ideas from different students and professors coming from all over the world can also expend your understanding and your horizon about special education.  
You can choose optional modules according to your interests and career plans. My goal is to become a behaviour therapist, so I chose the ‘Education for Students on the Autism Spectrum’ module. I systematically learned the basic knowledge, related theories and intervention about autism. It provided me with a good understanding of why children identified with autism experience these challenges. It also provided me the opportunity to come up with appropriate solutions for them.  
Joining this course has helped me find a job in Hong Kong. Since Hong Kong is an international city, it requires professionals from all over the world to possess broad vision, high inclusiveness and critical thinking. Studying this course has provided me with opportunities to learn from professors and classmates with different educational, cultural and working backgrounds. It is like offering me a window to see the world as well as improve my acceptance of diversity. 

Was there a particular aspect of the course you enjoyed the most?

Students on this course come from all over the world and have various kinds of learning and working experience. You can hear different opinions from them. It can provide you a wider understanding and thinking about special education, as well as learning from the experience of other countries or organisations.   

What are your plans once you've completed the course?

As I already have a job offer, I will start working immediately when I finish my dissertation. 

Did you undertake any work experience or a placement while studying?

Due to Covid-19, I did not get any work experience. However, our tutors tried their best to enrich our extracurricular activities as much as possible. They arranged some interesting seminars, inviting people with special needs to share their experiences as well as sharing information about online courses or seminars of other organisations.  

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

The structure of this course is good, as you can choose optional modules according to your interest and career plan. 
The quality of teaching is excellent. The tutors organise the teaching materials well and teach in interesting ways, utilising group discussions and games. They also truly care about students. They will set aside time for personal tutorials not just for your studies but also for your life and future plans. 
You will also have the opportunity to study with excellent students from all over the world. You won’t only be listening to tutors, but also your classmates who bring with them a wealth of different educational and working background.     


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