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Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties


Key facts

Start dates

September 2023

Course length

Part time: 24 months


School of Education


Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties Association (SEBDA)

  • Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties Association (SEBDA)


On this course, you'll enhance your understanding, skills and expertise in relation to children and young people with social, emotional and mental health difficulties (SEMH).  

You'll have opportunities to conduct constructive and critical reflection on a range of practical, theoretical and research issues. You will relate SEMH theory to your own professional context and consider the impact on your practice.

You'll learn from experienced practitioners in the field of SEMH. You'll receive expert tuition and support to build your skills and to succeed on the course. You'll also network online with students working in a wide range of settings. 

The course is delivered in partnership with the charity SEBDA*. It is structured to help you study while you are working.  

*SEBDA is committed to improving provision for children and young people with social, emotional and mental health difficulties and supporting the professionals who work with them.




Group of students leaving after a lecture

How to apply

Entry requirements

Specific entry requirements

Students must normally hold a degree qualification at 2.2 or above and must be working in a relevant setting where they will be working with children and/or young people with SEMH difficulties as part of their practice.

Students who do not hold a 2.2 degree may be accepted on the course following an assessment of prior experiential learning.


Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

Please 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.

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 (UK) distance learning
£970 per single module

International distance learning
£970 per single module

Home (UK) distance learning
£1.070 per single module

International distance learning
£1,070 per single module

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2022 / 23
Home (UK) distance learning
£970 per single module

International distance learning
£970 per single module

2023 / 24
Home (UK) distance learning
£1.070 per single module

International distance learning
£1,070 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.

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

Learning and assessment

Learning is challenging, interactive and focused on the practicalities of effective support for children and young people with SEMH needs. 

You'll carry out critical reviews of approaches, policy and guidance on SEMH difficulties. You'll look at emotional development and instances that can impact on socio-emotional development. You will look at mental health issues and the therapies to alleviate them.

In your first year you'll engage with psychological understandings of SEMH, current legislation, SEMH assessment, practical interventions and neuroscientific research. You’ll explore how the ‘social model’ of understanding of SEMH contrasts with the ‘medical model’.

You may now choose to exit the course with the award of PG Cert: Social Emotional Mental Health Difficulties.  

In the second year you'll begin a critical exploration of:

  • trauma
  • anger management
  • self-harm
  • eating disorders 
  • bereavement 
  • anxiety 
  • depression
  • emotional development
  • attachment theory
  • autistic spectrum conditions. 

You'll also study the ecology of SEMH difficulties and a research methods module.




Female student studying on a laptop

Study modules

You will study one module per semester.




Taught modules

Compulsory modules

Understanding SEMH Difficulties

You'll look at historical and contemporary psychological understandings of SEMH and how it presents in a classroom or other setting. You'll examine your own professional setting and reflect on your current work. You'll then undertake a critical review of SEMH approaches. That will include behaviourist, humanist and psychodynamic theory.

Managing SEMH Difficulties

You'll explore a range of assessment tools to support the Graduated Approach (Assess-Plan-Do-Review). You'll conduct a critical review of SEMH policy and guidance. Including the role of multi-agency teams and issues around working with families with reference to a range of settings including post 16 education and care settings.

Neuroscience and SEMH Difficulties

On this module you'll explore the variations in emotional development among children and young people. This will include an inquiry into neuroscientific research in the area. You'll develop an understanding of how emotions develop and mature in securely attached and healthy children and young people. This will help you gain insight into how trauma, neglect and abuse can impact on socio-emotional development.


Complex Social Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties

You'll explore through critical analysis a range of mental health issues that include:

  • anxiety
  • depression 
  • self-harm.

You'll examine the prevalence of these issues through national statistics. You'll also perform a critical review of the needs of children and young people with autism and attachment needs.


Research Methods and SEMH

On this module, you'll examine a range of research approaches, methods and techniques used in the study of children and young people with complex SEMH difficulties. You'll explore the interdisciplinary nature of work in and across these areas. 

The methodological components of this module will prepare you for dissertation study with Oxford Brookes.


Advanced Intervention Social Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties

You’ll carry out a critical exploration of a range of advanced mental health issues including:  

  • anger management
  • eating disorders
  • ADHD 
  • obsessive-compulsive disorders.

You’ll also critically review interventions that involve Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Psychodynamic Therapy.


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

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). 







Assessment methods used on this course

Your assessment for the Research Methods and SEMH module, will be a report on the focus group research activity you will have undertaken with adults during the module.

Your assessment for all other modules will include:

  • A written summative assignment
  • contributions to online discussions with your peers throughout the module
  • contributions to your personal reflective journal throughout the module
  • summaries of your reflective journal and an online discussion. 


The School of Education 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

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.

After you graduate

Career prospects

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.


Further study

On successful completion of this PG Diploma in SEMH Difficulties, you can apply to join the MA Education with Oxford Brookes. You’ll have 120 credits from the PG Diploma in SEMH and will need to complete a Dissertation (60 credits) in one year, to gain an MA Education qualification.

The MA Education at Oxford Brookes has specialist pathways; giving you a qualification that will further your career as an education specialist.

‘After studying the SEBDA courses it seemed like a natural step to follow and complete my dissertation for the MA. I did an investigation into the SEND code of practice for professionals and for provision for young people with SEND in the FE sector - it was a really good decision - it was a seamless transition. It was great to get an MA qualification while working.’

Mary Campbell, MA Education Graduate 


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.