Course overview

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

The MA Special and Inclusive Education examines the educational needs of children with labels of learning difficulties and disabilities. You’ll consider the importance of communication and literacy and analyse how different countries approach identification and assessments for children with special needs. You’ll graduate with the skills to be able to make a significant impact on the lives of children.

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 course to advance to a full MA qualification.

We also offer a distance learning version of this course - MA Special and Inclusive Education (Online).

Alumni profiles

View our alumni profiles to see what they say about their experience of the course.

Why choose this course?

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

Excellent research

The majority of our research outputs are assessed as 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 one year full-time, or two years part-time plus an eight-month dissertation. 

Modules are taught in evening sessions (usually 4.30-7.30pm).

Course leader

Sophie Potter (contact for academic enquiries)

SEND seminars

The School of Education runs a SEN and Disabilities seminar series each year, with a focus on practice, which students are sked to attend.  


If you are not currently working in a teaching environment, we will support you to gain placements in local schools, offering you the opportunity to experience local practice and the potential to conduct small scale research projects.


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



Understanding and Planning Educational Research

This compulsory module will develop or build upon students’ existing critical engagement with educational research, focusing on the complexities of the research process in order that students are able to respond to the kinds of research evidence used in educational discourse, as well as to conceive of their own questions and interests in research-oriented terms. The module will introduce different approaches to conducting and evaluating research in a range of educational contexts, drawing on methodological literature as well as examples of educational research, and developing the foundations from which students can begin to plan their own research project. Through the assignment, students will gain the skills to read and write from a methodological perspective, developing an evaluative approach to their encounters with educational research. The module aims to:

  • develop ‘research literacy’ by highlighting and evaluating the different purposes, perspectives and audiences for educational research
  • explore different methods for each stage of the research process, from first questions to ethical issues, data analysis and project presentation
  • enable students to structure their own educational inquiry based on current practice or area of interest

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
  • the role of self-awareness and mindful practice as an essential classroom management approach
  • 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
Education for Students on the Autism Spectrum

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
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 Monday 25 September 2023.

You can view an example PDF timetable, however this is subject to change year on year and your live timetable will be available via the online timetable system.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Discussion group

Your learning will be supported by:

  • tutors with a breadth and depth of knowledge, understanding and skills developed through experience in the field
  • interactive and collaborative teaching methods promoting shared enquiry
  • emphasis on formative feedback to support you to successfully complete assessments
  • access to extensive study materials from libraries and online sources

How you will be assessed

  • Coursework
  • Dissertation
  • Essay
  • Presentation
  • Debates

Each 30-credit module is assessed by one of the following:

  • 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

Each module comprises 10 sessions, to be delivered either in three-hour teaching blocks or in the equivalent of blended learning opportunities, as well as 270 hours of independent study, assignment preparation and tutorial support.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2024 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:1 honours degree (or international equivalent) in education, psychology, teacher training or a caring-related discipline
Work experience

Applicants with a 2:2 degree and three or more years full-time relevant professional experience in education-related positions or a voluntary or caring/support role can be considered.

Applicants with a degree in any other discipline must have relevant work experience in education-related positions or a voluntary or caring/support role.

Voluntary work - evidence of either:

  • long term volunteering in educational, child-care, or therapeutic settings which brings them into contact with students with learning differences and/or their families. This could constitute a regular but infrequent role, such as working at a youth club including children with special needs once a week for two years.
  • shorter term but more intensive volunteer role such as being a summer camp counsellor on more than one occasion
Additional information

Other requirements

A personal statement is required that demonstrates both a clear understanding of the course and relevant motivation for pursuing studies in special and inclusive education. Please include details of any personal experience of disability yourself or experience that has brought you into contact with other people experiencing support needs for disability or learning where you can demonstrate awareness of issues relevant to educational and social inclusion.


The full-time and part-time routes both begin in September and will be studied face-to-face on campus.

Course start date Course application deadline
23 September 2024  19 August 2024 (International)
2 September 2024 (Home)

When applying please make sure you use the correct course code:

  • MA Special and Inclusive Education (face-to-face, full-time): U7PSPIED
  • MA Special and Inclusive Education (face-to-face, part-time): U7PSPIEDPT
  • 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. Applications for ROL should be made at the time of application for admission to the university and at least four weeks before the start of the course. Applications for ROL are processed free of charge. Late applications will not be considered. Please visit the School of Education ROL pages for full information and how to apply.

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

How to apply


Qualification MA
Home / UK £9,700
International £25,250

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

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

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice.

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

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.

If you wish to volunteer in a local school you will need to factor in the cost of transport.


There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


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 and graduates work in a diverse range of jobs  including classroom/learning support, special education, coordinating provision for children with special needs, leadership within special education and policy/administration.

The course increases your academic and research skills to support future doctorate level study including, for example, a doctorate in education or educational psychology or PhD in special educational needs.

Career progression

87.8% 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 £26,130.*

* HESA Graduate Outcomes 2019/20 data published in 2022. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time, postgraduate, home graduates within the UK.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" I am committed to a view of inclusion which puts the onus on educators and academics to challenge existing inequalities and champion access for all learners. This course allows for international consideration of the challenges faced by both practitioners and young people in the pursuit of equitable access to education. I am thrilled to be part of a course with a focus on theory, and research-informed approaches to inclusion, which prioritises the needs and voices of young people. "
Sophie Potter, Course Leader for MA Special and Inclusive Education (Distance Learning)

Related courses

This content was last updated on Monday 25 September 2023. 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.