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Education - SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities)


Key facts

Start dates

September 2020 / September 2021

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 £1,000 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
Home/EU full time

Home/EU part time
£725 per single module (new students); £650 per single module (continuing students)

Home/EU distance learning
£725 per single module (new students); £650 per single module (continuing students)

International full time

International distance learning
£1,580 per single module

Home/EU full time

Home/EU part time
£745 per single module

Home/EU distance learning
£745 per single module

International full time

International part time
£1,655 per single unit

International distance learning
£1,655 per single unit

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2020 / 21
Home/EU full time

Home/EU part time
£725 per single module (new students); £650 per single module (continuing students)

Home/EU distance learning
£725 per single module (new students); £650 per single module (continuing students)

International full time

International distance learning
£1,580 per single module

2021 / 22
Home/EU full time

Home/EU part time
£745 per single module

Home/EU distance learning
£745 per single module

International full time

International part time
£1,655 per single unit

International distance learning
£1,655 per single unit

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.

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)

It is compulsory for all students to undertake  the 20 credit Research Methods module in preparation for the Dissertation. However, students undertaking the SEBDA-Brookes Year 2 course (SB51) have this module built into their studies and will not have to complete Research Methods*

Optional modules

Developing MA Literacies (20 credits)

The module aims to prepare students to develop the critical and reflective skills to participate confidently in their academic community as a researcher-practitioner. It will support you in developing the academic writing and critical reading skills to engage successfully in MA level study.  

Diversity and Achievement (20 credits)

This module will analyse the factors that are predictive of educational success and failure for children and young people and exploring the implications of this analysis for school policy and practice.  These factors will be considered at the level of the individual child, the family, the school and the neighbourhood using data from case study material drawing in part on students’ individual working contexts.  Issues of class, gender, disability and ethnicity will be considered. This analysis at the level of an individual in a particular locality will be compared to educational outcomes from national and international data sources. 

Mind and Brain (20 credits)

Explores previous and present developments within the field of educational neuroscience. The module will begin by exploring developmental changes that occur throughout the lifespan. Current insights from the field of cognitive neuroscience will be explored in relation to a number of specific educational issues which have implications for educational practice. The module will engage with philosophical exploration and deliberation over the relationship between mind, brain, self and body.   

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

The Module aims to introduce non-specialists and international students to key concepts around Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND). This will include a critical analysis of theories around inclusive practice, equality and equity as well as practical guidance on the broad areas of SEND (autism, emotional difficulties, learning difficulties, ADHD and complex SEND).

Alternative Perspectives on Challenging Behaviour (20 credits)

This module explores challenging behaviour from a variety of perspectives and provides an overview of individual and contextual factors which may influence children and young people’s behaviour. Theoretical perspectives will be discussed during seminar workshops in relation to problematizing children and young people’s social, emotional and mental health. Particular attention will be paid to ‘causes’ of challenging behaviour, individual and whole school approaches to managing behaviour and to the importance of recognising pupil voice and increasing pupil participation. Students will be encouraged to reflect on and critique alternative educational provisions.

Alternative Perspectives on Literacy Difficulties (20 credits)

This module is designed for practitioners in primary and secondary schools working with children with literacy difficulties. Course participants will explore and evaluate a range of theoretical perspectives and research evidence exploring the reasons for failure to develop literacy skills and review the implications of these ideas for the nature of school provision and their own current practice. 

Literacy Difficulties: Assessment and Intervention (20 credits)

This is a module designed for practitioners in primary and secondary schools working with children with literacy difficulties. Participants will be given opportunities to investigate and develop skills in a range of assessment and teaching strategies for working with children / young people who have significant difficulties with developing literacy.

The Inclusive Curriculum (20 credits)

This module, relevant for primary, secondary, and further and higher education practitioners and students, explores key aspects of curriculum design and delivery in relation to access, equality of learning opportunity and inclusion. There will be a particular focus on the ways in which cultural values influence curriculum content and organization and students will have an opportunity to critically engage with theories of internationalising and decolonising the curriculum.

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

This module focuses on the role of those working in services for children and their families. It builds upon the discussion of the quality of children's lives considered in Children in Families and Communities. Course participants will be examining the rationale for the development of policy and practice aimed at the improvement of the quality of children's lives and exploring the ways in which such practices position children and families. The evidence for a range of interventions is examined and features of effective practice identified. A fundamental concern in this area of work is the difficulties of ensuring effective communication between those working with children and their families and the nature and complexity of this communication. Both the organisational issues and the skills for practitioners will be a focus for study.

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)

The SEND Dissertation (60 credits) will involve a piece of investigative research and will comprise approximately one third of your degree work. Your dissertation will focus on a research problem of interest to you. It need not be based in an educational setting and may be literature based but should be relevant to educational concerns and the specific subject area on named pathways. (compulsory for all students) September to September.

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.