Find a course


Education (SEND) [Special Educational Needs and Disabilities]


Key facts

Start dates

September 2021 / September 2022

Course length

Full time: 12 months, Harcourt Hill Campus

Part time: Two / three years depending on your chosen trajectory - part time on campus or distance learning


School of Education


On our MA Education - SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) you will study issues around special education, disability and inclusion at master’s level.

You will learn in an environment where you will be supported in improving and developing your practice. During your studies you will:

  • develop your critical enquiry and reflection in the field of SEND
  • gain depth and insight into your professional thinking
  • meet students who are at various levels in their careers.

Our academic team of specialist staff have a strong background in SEND teaching and are research–active in the field.

Subject to these having been gained in the last five years, applicants may transfer in credits gained from:

Three female students leaving lecture

How to apply

Entry requirements

Specific entry requirements

This MA course attracts students from a wide range of backgrounds and nationalities, normally graduates with a recognised teaching qualification, or other educational professional experience.

Applicants normally have:

  • a good honours degree 
  • QTS (Qualified Teacher Status), other equivalent professional qualification or relevant experience

Entry with credit

Credit for the award can be made up of appropriate work completed outside the course, for example, M level credit from PGCE awards or Postgraduate Certificate courses in relevant subject areas. Please contact for more information.

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS level 6.5 or above with a minimum of 6.0 in reading and writing and 5.5 in speaking and listening.

Please also see the University's standard English language requirements.

International qualifications and equivalences


English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the University's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

International applications

International students hold a conditional offer until payment of a deposit of £3,000 is received.

Pathways courses for international and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you meet the entry requirements for your postgraduate course and also familiarise you with university life in the UK.

Take a Pre-Master's course to develop your subject knowledge, study skills and academic language level in preparation for your master's course.

If you need to improve your English language, we offer pre-sessional English language courses to help you meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s course.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Application process

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
2021 / 22
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£745 per single module

Home (UK) distance learning
£745 per single module

International / EU full time

International / EU part-time
£1,665 per single module

International / EU distance learning
£1,655 per single module

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2021 / 22
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£745 per single module

Home (UK) distance learning
£745 per single module

International / EU full time

International / EU part-time
£1,665 per single module

International / EU distance learning
£1,655 per single module

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year your fees will increase each year.

Financial support and scholarships

There are International Student Scholarships available for 2020 and other scholarships and funding options for postgraduate international students.

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed below.

The published course and module descriptions were accurate when first published and remain the basis of the course, but the University has had to modify some course and module content in response to government restrictions and social distancing requirements. In the event of changes made to the government advice and social distancing rules by national or local government, the University may need to make further alterations to the published course content. Detailed information on the changes will be sent to every student on confirmation in August to ensure you have all the information before you come to Oxford Brookes.

Learning and assessment

You will require 180 credits at Masters level for the MA Education (SEND). Students typically complete this over a three year study period. This will include:

  • A compulsory module - Research Methods (20 credits)
  • A compulsory dissertation (60 credits)
  • Introduction to Special Educational Needs (20 credits - compulsory for those without a previous qualification in SEN)

To make up the remaining credits required, you will need to select at least 2 modules (40 credits) from the following:

  • Learning and Development in Childhood (20 credits)
  • Alternative Perspectives on Challenging Behaviour (20 credits)
  • The Inclusive Curriculum (20 credits)
  • Working with Children, Young People and their Families (20 credits)

You can also select up to a further 40 credits from the optional modules in the  MA in Education.

Credit towards your award can also be made up of appropriate work completed outside the course. For example by M level credit achieved in your PGCE and Postgraduate Certificate courses.

Male student studying on ipad

Study modules

Taught modules

Compulsory modules

Research Methods (20 credits)

You’ll develop your knowledge of research approaches, methods and techniques for the study of children and childhood, education and language. You’ll explore the interdisciplinary nature of work in and across these areas. After taking this module, you’ll be well prepared for the methodological aspects of your dissertation.

Optional modules

Developing MA Literacies (20 credits)

You’ll develop the skills you need to be successful in your MA, in two key areas: 

  • the skills you need to operate confidently within your academic community as a researcher-practitioner
  • academic writing and critical reading skills for MA-level study.

Engaging with the academic community

The module will help you:

  • engage with the underlying beliefs and approaches to knowledge in your field of study/practice
  • become familiar with relevant journals, research articles and professional networks
  • make links between current research debates in your research/practice community, and your own knowledge and experience.

Engaging with MA-level study

The module will help you:

  • develop critical thinking and reflection in your academic reading and writing 
  • understand the strategies and conventions of writing in different academic genres – such as reports, research papers, book reviews and reflective logs.

Diversity and Achievement (20 credits)

How are children’s and young people’s achievements affected by factors like class, gender, disability and ethnicity? In this module, you’ll analyse the factors that predict educational success and failure for children and young people. You’ll then explore the implications for school policy and practice. 

You’ll look at data from case study material, which may draw on your own working context, or your peers’. Using these data, you’ll consider issues at the level of the individual child, the family, the school and the neighbourhood. You’ll go on to compare the analysis at the level of an individual in a particular place to educational outcomes from national and international data sources.


Mind and Brain (20 credits)

You’ll explore fascinating developments in educational neuroscience, beginning with developmental changes that occur throughout our lifespan. We’ll discuss pre- and post-natal development, followed by the changes that occur in childhood, adolescence and beyond. 

You’ll explore current insights from cognitive neuroscience that have implications for education, in areas like creativity, and gaming and ICT in learning. You’ll also think about the relationships between mind, brain, self and body using philosophical perspectives. And you’ll investigate case studies, opening up discussion and debate about this complex and controversial field.


Introduction to Special Educational Needs - Compulsory for those without a previous qualification in SEN (20 credits)

In this module for non-specialists and international students, you’ll learn about key concepts around Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND). You’ll examine theories about inclusive practice, equality and equity. You’ll also have practical guidance on the broad areas of SEND (autism, emotional difficulties, learning difficulties, ADHD and complex SEND).

The module offers a smooth entry point for students wishing to access a named SEND route to an MA with Oxford Brookes University – ie MA Education (SEND).



Alternative Perspectives on Challenging Behaviour (20 credits)

You’ll explore challenging behaviour from a variety of perspectives, gaining an overview of factors that influence children’s and young people’s behaviour. In seminar workshops, you’ll discuss theoretical perspectives on children’s and young people’s social, emotional and mental health. 

We’ll pay particular attention to ‘causes’ of challenging behaviour. We’ll look at individual and whole school approaches to managing behaviour, and consider the importance of recognising pupil voice and increasing pupil participation. And we’ll encourage you to reflect on and critique alternative educational provisions.


Alternative Perspectives on Literacy Difficulties (20 credits)

If you are working with children with literacy difficulties in either primary or secondary school, this module is for you. You’ll examine and evaluate theories and research on the reasons for failure to develop literacy skills. You’ll go on to review the implications of these ideas for school provision and your own current practice. 

The issues you’ll investigate may include:

  • debates around the terminology and aetiology (causes) of literacy difficulties
  • policy frameworks for supporting children with literacy difficulties
  • an overview of normal literacy processes
  • reviewing the research evidence on alternative explanations of literacy difficulties and dyslexia, including the neuropsychology of literacy and notions of the ‘dyslexic brain’
  • the phonics debate – what emphasis and which model? (eg synthetic or analytic phonics)
  • self-esteem and the social consequences of learning failure.

Literacy Difficulties: Assessment and Intervention (20 credits)

If you work with children with literacy difficulties in either primary or secondary school, this module will be of interest. You’ll develop skills in a range of assessment and teaching strategies for working with children and young people with significant literacy difficulties.

You’ll tackle subjects such as:

  • assessing literacy difficulties, principles of assessment, and reviewing a range of assessment techniques
  • interpreting evidence from specialist reports
  • using ICT to support children with literacy difficulties
  • developing organisational and thinking skills
  • workshops on case study material: discussion of assessment strategies / working theories as to children’s difficulties / approaches to intervention / choice of resources.

The Inclusive Curriculum (20 credits)

You’ll explore key aspects of curriculum design and delivery, in relation to access, equality of learning opportunity and inclusion. You’ll look at how cultural values influence curriculum content and organisation, and explore theories of decolonising the curriculum. The module content is relevant whether you’re a primary, secondary, FE or HE practitioner.

Working with Children, Young People and their Families (20 credits)

You’ll look at the role of people who work in services in this sector. Examining the policy and practice developments which are aimed at improving the quality of children’s lives. You’ll question the reasoning behind those developments, examine the evidence base and identify good practice. 

Ensuring effective communication between different services working with children and their families is difficult to achieve. We’ll look at the nature and complexity of this communication. 

We’ll also investigate issues like:

  • cultural capital, social and educational inclusion, children’s and young people’s needs, rights and opportunities
  • rationales for intervention: notions of ‘wellbeing’, ‘vulnerability’, ‘cycles of deprivation’
  • evaluating specialist interventions
  • communicating across disciplinary and professional boundaries 
  • managing complexity in services for children and their families – viewing the whole system
  • international comparisons of policy and practice in education and care.

Modules available to students undertaking the National SENCO Award

  • Improving Outcomes for SEND (20 credits)
  • Leading and Coordinating Provision for SEND (20 credits)
  • Professional Knowledge and Understanding for SEND (20 credits)

Final project

Compulsory modules

Dissertation (60 credits)

In your dissertation or project, you’ll carry out a sustained piece of educational research. You’ll analyse and report your findings at a high critical level, justifying and supporting them with detailed reference to relevant theories and concepts. This work will comprise one third of the work for your degree.  

If you’re writing a dissertation, you'll focus on a research problem of particular interest. If you’re enrolled on a named route of the MA Education, your topic will be relevant to your route (e.g. childhood and youth, L&M, SEND, TESOL, higher education). 

If you’re working on a project, you’ll undertake a shorter piece of independent investigative or literature-based research. You’ll also produce a creative piece or artefact.


Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from that shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.

Learning and teaching

Teaching, learning and assessment draw on the different backgrounds, experience and knowledge of students. It also encourages critical reflection.

We use a range of teaching methods, including:

  • lectures
  • directed reading
  • workshops
  • discussion forums
  • student and staff-led seminars
  • project work.

Teaching is organised on a modular basis, each module involving approximately 24 hours of staff contact as follows:

  • Part-time on campus: Modules are usually taught over eight weeks on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays 17:00 – 20:00
  • Full-time on campus: the main study day is Thursdays with students also joining part-time students in evening modules.
  • Distance learning - an MA Education SEND can be achieved by part-time online learning through the use of our Moodle platform. For each module this usually requires about 12 hours a week plus time spent on assessment. The online route is usually taken part-time over 2 to 3 years.


Assessment methods used on this course

Course modules, which are coursework-based, are assessed in the following ways:

  • essays
  • seminar presentations
  • reports
  • portfolios
  • investigative research
  • group work.


The School of Education is a thriving centre for educational research and teacher professional development. Students on master's level programmes therefore join a large research community comprising researchers at all levels of higher education study.

We hold two major research conferences each year - the School of Education Research Conference and the EdD Colloquium. All students are invited to attend our annual Research Seminar Series (which attracts both internal and external speakers). We also organise a number of conferences, lectures, seminars and debates, some of which have an international reach.

The School’s six research groups exist to encourage engagement in research, publication, conference presentations, seminars and workshops:

  • Inclusion and Wellbeing
  • Policy, Partnership and Leadership
  • STEAM pedagogy and learning
  • Humanistic Perspectives on Education
  • Early Years
  • Applied Linguistics

View all staff profiles for School of Education

Student studying in the library

After you graduate

Career prospects

Students hoping to develop their careers in the world of SEND now have the opportunity to achieve a named MA Education award in special educational needs and disability

The MA Education (SEND) award will confirm to any future employer that you are a dedicated and resilient professional, capable of working at Masters level with a specialism in SEND.

There will be opportunities to develop skills in digital literacy, critical thinking and research evaluation - all of which represent transferable skills in the workplace

Programme Changes: On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website.

For more information, please visit our Changes to programmes page.