Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties


Start dates: September 2024 / September 2025

Part time: 24 months

Location: Distance learning

Department(s): School of Education, Humanities and Languages

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The PG Diploma in Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) Difficulties is delivered by Oxford Brookes University in partnership with the mental health charity SEBDA.

This two year, part time online Diploma generates 120 masters level credits. You can exit the Diploma after one year with a Post Graduate Certificate in SEMH (60 credits) or go on to study a full masters degree.

Our team includes specialist teachers, authors, psychologists, behaviour support professionals and SEN advisers - all with expertise in supporting children and young people with mental health needs.

The Diploma will enhance your understanding, skills and expertise of children and young people with social, emotional and mental health difficulties. You will learn practical, theoretical and research issues relating to SEMH, which you will relate to your own professional context and practice.

Please note, it is important that you are working with children and/or young people in a professional setting when you undertake the Diploma.

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Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Accreditation(s)

    Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties Association (SEBDA)

    • Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties Association (SEBDA)

Course details

Course structure

Our distance learning Diploma is challenging, interactive and focused on the effective support for children and young people with SEMH needs. 

The Diploma is completed across two academic years. A key theme involves the contrast between the ‘social model’ and the ‘medical model’ of understanding SEMH needs. You will be encouraged to reflect on the context in which SEMH needs first emerge within individuals.

After year 1, you can exit the course with the award of PG Cert: Social Emotional Mental Health Difficulties.  Most students continue into year 2 where you will reflect on the ecology of SEMH difficulties and begin a critical exploration of complex SEMH needs including childhood trauma, anger management, self-harm, eating disorders, anxiety and depression. 

A research methods module is also included in Year 2 to ensure that you are in a position to access a dissertation year following the Diploma to complete a full MA Education (SEND).

Female student studying on a laptop

Learning and teaching

You will study the course online over 2 years part time.

You'll receive:

  • a comprehensive induction programme
  • two and a half virtual study days per year
  • a minimum of 2 small group or individual tutorials per semester
  • support from tutors who are experienced practitioners in the field of SEMH.
  • fortnightly structured units of study which include:
  1. guided independent study tasks
  2. audio and video presentations
  3. interactive activities
  4. collaborative working via online discussions
  5. critical reflection.

The course will mostly be delivered asynchronously. This means that you can access the course irrespective of your personal responsibilities, work commitments, learning preferences or geographical time zone.

Synchronous activities are arranged at times agreed by the students involved or recorded and posted online.

At the end of the first year you may choose to exit the course with the award of Postgraduate Certificate: Social Emotional Mental Health Difficulties (60 credits). 







Your assessment for the majority of modules will be a single 4,000 word submission at the end of the Module that will include:

▪ A written summative assignment (3,000 words)
▪ A summary of your reflective journal (500 words) and a summary of the online
discussion (500 words)

Your assessment will also include your contributions to online discussions with your peers throughout the module and your contributions to your personal reflective journal. Your assessment for the Research Methods and SEMH Module 5, will be a report on the focus group research activity you will have undertaken with adults during the module.

Study modules

You will study one module per semester.




Taught modules

Compulsory modules

  • Understanding SEMH Difficulties

    Following a series of induction tasks, this Module will explore historical perspectives on SEMH and evaluate the way that historical concepts still shape contemporary understandings. You will then undertake a critical review of a range of psychological perspectives that seek to understand SEMH needs. This will include behaviourist,
    humanist, eco-systemic and psychodynamic perspectives on SEMH.

  • Managing SEMH Difficulties

    In Module 2 you will explore a range of assessment tools to support the Graduated Approach (Assess-Plan-Do-Review) including ‘Formulation’. You will be required to conduct a critical review of SEMH policy and guidance, including the role of multi-agency teams, pupil voice and issues around working with families. The complex
    area of bullying and cyberbullying will also be explored.

  • Neuroscience and SEMH Difficulties

    In this module you will explore positive, secure emotional development and contrastthis with disrupted and inhibited emotional development following experiences of trauma, abuse and/or neglect. Nurture group intervention will be critically evaluated and the contribution made by neuroscientific research in this area will be critically appraised. The particular needs of children and young people who are care-experienced will also be considered carefully in this Module.


  • Complex Social Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties

    In Module 4, statistics around SEMH in your country will be critically evaluated in the context of ethnicity, socio-economics, diversity and inclusivity. Complex SEMH needs including autism and attachment disorder will be explored in depth and practical interventions will be evaluated in relation to anxiety, depression and self-harm.


  • Research Methods and SEMH

    Module 5 is a Research Methods Module that has been designed to ensure that all students are ready for a Dissertation year (Year 3) should they wish to complete a full MA Education (SEND). In this Module, Qualitative and Quantitative research approaches, methods and techniques will be critically explored and analysed. Students will then be required to go through the process of undertaking an initial Focus Group interview (with adults) followed by a thematic analysis of transcripts and a presentation of the results in a Report. This Report will be the assessed task for the Module.


  • Advanced Intervention Social Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties

    In this final Module you will carry out an evidence-based exploration of a range of advanced mental health issues including ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorders and eating disorders. Psychodynamic interventions in relation to these difficulties will be contrasted with those offered by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. At every turn, these mental health difficulties will be considered in context with an appreciation of how environments and life experiences contribute to the development (and resolution) of these complex needs.


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


The School of Education, Humanities and Languages is a thriving centre for educational research and teacher professional development.

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).

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, Humanities and Languages

SEBDA publishes the research journal ‘Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties’ on a quarterly basis. You have access via the Brookes library services. SEBDA is also engaged with national campaigns around social, emotional and mental health.


By completing this course, you've demonstrated a professional interest and commitment to this important area of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). You’ve gained a qualification that builds your expertise and professional knowledge. It supports your career progression in the field of SEND. And it may also open up new opportunities for you to explore. 

Below are graduate examples of career advancement in the field of SEND:

  • Support staff  participating in strategic development groups
  • Promotion of mainstream staff to SEMH roles within mainstream
  • Mainstream staff securing posts in specialist provision
  • Promotion of course graduates to headships of specialist provisions
  • Graduates have secured roles in advisory services or gained promotion to advisory services.

Entry requirements

International qualifications and equivalences

How to apply

Application process

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) distance learning
£1,125 per single module

International distance learning
£1,125 per single module

Home (UK) distance learning
£1,200 per single module

International distance learning
£1,200 per single module

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2024 / 25
Home (UK) distance learning
£1,125 per single module

International distance learning
£1,125 per single module

2025 / 26
Home (UK) distance learning
£1,200 per single module

International distance learning
£1,200 per single module

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400

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.

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support.

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Being a member of SEBDA will give you £100 cashback on your course fees.

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 are detailed below.

Funding your studies

Financial support and scholarships

Featured funding opportunities available for this course.

All financial support and scholarships

View all funding opportunities for this course

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.