Triangle

Course overview

What are the best approaches to support learners who are struggling with learning? What are the complexities of inclusive education in a rapidly changing world? How do we address the current barriers to inclusivity?

This online course explores the educational needs of children with labels of learning difficulties, intellectual impairment, physical and sensory disabilities, communication impairments, literacy difficulties/dyslexia, autism and SEBD/ADHD.

Through a critical analysis of contemporary debates, theory and research in the field, you’ll develop effective approaches and structures for supporting your pupils whilst working collaboratively with teachers, parents/carers and different agencies.

It is designed for graduates, teachers or other professionals who have an interest in increasing their knowledge and skills in the field of special and inclusive education. If you have completed the National Award SEN Coordination, you can select modules from this programme to advance to a full MA qualification.

View our student profiles page to see what Sarah says about her experience on the course.

This course is studied part-time and online. It can also be studied face-to-face in Nottingham. Please see the applying section for further details.

Why choose this course?

Study fully online

Learn in an interactive digital learning environment and study at your own pace

Top 50

in the world for education

Learn from experts

who are internationally recognised for their research in this area

Over 100 years

of experience in the field of education

3rd in the UK

with 84% of research considered world-leading or internationally excellent

Course content

The taught element of this course is made up of four 30-credit modules, plus a 60-credit dissertation. It can be completed over two years part-time plus an eight-month dissertation. There are PGDip and PGCert exit points.

Online materials and support

Our online materials provide an interactive learning experience and allow you to study at your own pace. You will be encouraged to interact regularly with other course participants in an online forum.

To ensure you have the appropriate computer requirements to enable you to study online, please view our computer specification guidance notes (PDF).

Tutors

Modules

Core modules

Debating Special and Inclusive Education

This module will explore key issues concerning the field of special and inclusive education:

  • Definitions of special needs and inclusion
  • Global perspectives on diversity and access to equality of educational opportunities
  • Understanding theoretical approaches to special needs/inclusion and models of disability
  • Understanding prevalence of need and issues concerning classification and assessment
  • Exploring the impact of policy on practice and equality of opportunity
  • Examining the evidence on effectiveness of different types of educational settings eg mainstream, resource base and special provision
  • Pedagogy and creativity
  • Balancing equity and choice through collaborative and ethical problem solving
Researching Special and Inclusive Education

This module considers:

  • research purposes and paradigms
  • epistemological influences on research design and practice
  • the reflective research practitioner
  • participatory approaches to research
  • criticality in reading, writing and reviewing the literature
  • advantages and disadvantages of different methodological approaches to researching special and inclusive education
  • planning and designing research projects
  • ethical codes of practice and their importance in researching special and inclusive education
  • applying research skills
Dissertation

This involves the researching and writing of a substantive piece of scholarship within the field of the course.

You will choose a topic in consultation with your course leader and an appropriate supervisor. The topic will normally be based on interests and skills you have developed in the course of the modules already studied.

Optional modules

Responding Mindfully to Challenging Behaviour

This module considers:

  • experiential learning and its relationship to reflective practice and reflexivity: exploration via a learning journal genre
  • world views and models of human behaviour
  • theoretical perspectives on behaviour: behaviourist, humanistic and postmodern approaches
  • social and emotional aspects of behaviour: mental well-being, shame, self-esteem
  • punitive and restorative justice: responding to bullying and challenging behaviour, conflict resolution and peer mediation
  • the intensity/functionality of behaviour: escalation/de-escalation, communication and crisis intervention
  • controversial issues: for example, restraint, exclusion from school, sex and relationship education
  • supporting students with ADHD
  • workforce issues: self-care, partnership working
Communication and Literacy

This module considers:

  • typical and atypical development of communication by looking at means, opportunities and reasons for communicating, along with the influence of expectations
  • typical and atypical development of cognition and literacy including specific learning difficulties/dyslexia
  • communication and literacy/learning assessments and interventions
  • understanding autism and Autistic Spectrum Disorder
  • communication and literacy/learning for children with learning disabilities including autism, Down's syndrome and dyslexia
  • effective teaching and learning environments
Educating Students on the Autism Spectrum

This module will explore key issues related to the education of students on the autism spectrum. These include: 

  • What you need to know to teach and support individuals on the autism spectrum and their families
  • Insider perspectives; the spectrum; neurodiversity; and gender
  • Diagnosis and core difficulties of autism
  • Whole school approaches to planning for students on the autism spectrum
  • Environmental issues; working with families and community; outside agencies
  • Education theories associated with autism: theory of mind; central coherence; and executive function
  • Communication
  • Sensory sensitivities and accommodations
  • Links between sensory and motor functions and difficulties associated with autism
  • Social and emotional challenges and supports
  • Educational interventions for children on the autism spectrum
  • Value of interventions to learning of all children in a mainstream class
  • Transitions; small and large scale
  • Focusing on strengths and interests
The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Thursday 14 October 2021.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Tutorials
  • Discussion group
  • Independent study

Our interactive virtual learning environment includes text, audio and video materials, online discussions and reflective tasks. The programme is designed so that you can fit your studies in around other commitments.

For each module, you will have an academic tutor who will be active online. They contribute to discussions as well as supporting you through the assessment process. There is an online masters-level toolkit to support all aspects of academic study, a dissertation preparation module available to you from the beginning of the course, and one-to-one dissertation support from your supervisor, usually via Skype or Microsoft Teams.

How you will be assessed

  • Coursework
  • Dissertation
  • Essay
  • Presentation
  • Debates

Each 30-credit module is assessed by one of the following: a 6,000-word reflective essay; research design; literature-based debate; presentation accompanied by a 1,000-word commentary; or an individual education plan. To complete the masters, you must achieve a pass of 50% on each assignment.

The 15,000-word dissertation is an original piece of work and should be related to one of the selected modules on an approved topic.

Contact time and study hours

You will need to commit 12-15 hours per week for modules. In addition, you will need to complete related reading, research, reflection and contribute to discussion forums.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:2 (or international equivalent) or a relevant professional qualification in education, psychology, teacher training or a caring-related discipline
Work experience

Applicants with a degree in any other discipline must have relevant work experience

Applying

Start dates

Start date Application deadline
14 February 2022 17 January 2022
5 September 2022 5 August 2022
13 February 2023 16 January 2023

This online course will be studied part-time. You can choose to begin your studies in September or February. When applying please make sure you use the correct course code:

  • MA Special and Inclusive Education (Distance Learning, part-time): U7PSPIEDT

Recognition of other Learning (ROL)

If you have prior learning or experience at an appropriate level, you may apply for exemption from some of the credit requirements of the course.

Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply

Fees

All listed fees are per year of study.

Qualification MA
Home / UK £9,000
International £13,700

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will pay international tuition fees in most cases. If you are resident in the UK and have 'settled' or 'pre-settled' status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will be entitled to 'home' fee status.

Irish students will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our information for applicants from the EU.

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

As a student on this course, we do not anticipate any extra significant costs, alongside your tuition fees.

You should be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies which you would need to factor into your budget.

Funding

Careers

We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

Each year 1,100 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Graduate destinations

This course provides a solid grounding for a career in a diverse range of areas including classroom/learning support, special education, coordinating provision for children with special needs, leadership within special education and policy/administration.

It supports career progression through:

  • evaluating effective approaches to supporting disabled children and young people including those with moderate to severe and complex learning difficulties and/or personal, social, emotional and behaviour difficulties
  • exploring values and beliefs, policy, legislation, multi-agency working and involvement of families and disabled children and young people
  • building confidence in your professional practice skills
  • promoting personal development through reflection and critical analysis of your own beliefs and practices

Increasing your academic and research skills will support future doctorate level study including, for example, a doctorate in education or educational psychology or PhD Special Educational Needs.

Career progression

94.3% of postgraduates from the School of Education secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £28,280.*

* HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020, using methodology set by The Guardian. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" Countries across the world are being challenged to provide quality, inclusive education for all. Like many of the students and colleagues I work with, I believe that ‘all’ really does mean all. It is exciting to be part of a course that takes up the challenge of identifying ways in which some students are marginalised or excluded from education, and finds ways to promote access, belonging, participation, and success for all. "
Dr Elizabeth Walton, Course Leader

Related courses

This content was last updated on Thursday 14 October 2021. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.