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Course overview

Globally there is move to overthrow educational exclusion and develop new systems to ensure equal and inclusive education. This course offers you the chance to be involved in these developments. You will explore the rights of children to be included in schools and examine the barriers currently preventing inclusion.

Our course is taught by active researchers, whose work and practical experience inform the course content. Unique modules offer you the flexibility to explore areas and specialisms you are interested in and provide you with the tools to apply your research to support and educate the children you work with.

An advanced degree from the University of Nottingham provides you with high-quality professional development to facilitate your career progression and further academic study.

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.

This course is also available to study online.

Why choose this course?

Top 50

in the world for education

Learn from experts

who are internationally recognised for their research in this area

200 years

of experience in the field of education

3rd in the UK

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

Course content

You will explore 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.

You will gain a deeper understanding of why children behave in certain ways and explore current theory and research relating to pedagogical approaches. You will then be able to develop effective systems and structures for supporting your pupils whilst working collaboratively with teachers, parents/carers and different agencies.

The course 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

Coordinators and inclusion managers who have completed the National Award SEN Coordination can select modules from this programme to advance to a full MA qualification.

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. There are PGDip and PGCert exit points.

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


SEND seminars

The School of Education runs a SEN and Disabilities seminar series each year, which students are welcome and encouraged to attend if living locally.  


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

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 29 April 2021.

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 a 6,000-word reflective essay, research design or literature-based debate, a 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 2021 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:2 (or international equivalent) or a relevant professional qualification in education, psychology, teacher training or a caring-related discipline
Work experienceApplicants with a degree in any other discipline must have relevant work experience


Start dates

Mode of study Start date Application deadline
Full-time and part-time 20 September 2021 23 August 2021 (International)
6 September (Home/EU)

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

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

How to apply


Qualification MA
Home / UK £8,500
International £20,000

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2021/22 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who 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 Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

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.

More than 1,500 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

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 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.

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.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" Teaching this course is such an honour, I get to meet students from around the world who share the purpose of improving education for all young people. "
Dr Anne Emerson, Course Leader

Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning (2017/18). Our teaching is of the highest quality found in the UK.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a national grading system, introduced by the government in England. It assesses the quality of teaching at universities and how well they ensure excellent outcomes for their students in terms of graduate-level employment or further study.

This content was last updated on Thursday 29 April 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.