Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

MA Special Educational Needs

This programme is mainly aimed at qualified teachers who want to gain a deeper knowledge of special educational needs (SEN) to develop effective teaching and learning strategies.

You’ll choose whether to focus on SEN issues in England or internationally so you will either study areas such as inter-agency working under Every Child Matters or how SEN provision compares between different countries. You will expand on this knowledge when you choose from our optional modules, allowing you to focus on topics that interest you or are relevant to your career.

You could study developmental disorders and inclusive provision, and you’ll benefit from sharing the ideas and experiences of teachers from around the world as well as the local area. This programme will give you an understanding of the latest concepts approaches to effective, inclusive approaches, while equipping you with the skills to analyse the evidence that informs them.

You’ll be taught by members of the Childhood and Youth research group, which has a long-established, international reputation for research. The course distils the expertise within the team and draws on research that we have conducted, funded by agencies such as the ESRC, Action Research, and private and charitable UK organisations that work with children.

We offer students a vibrant intellectual and academic experience. Not only will you benefit from weekly research-led teaching, but you’ll have the chance to attend seminars with leading academics, hosted by the School of Education or other departments.

You can also apply for the PGCert in Provision for Children with Developmental Disorders that allows you to study the modules on developmental disorders from the MA Special Educational Needs. If you decide to move on to this MA programme afterwards, you can use the credits gained from the PGCert to count towards your MA.

From the start of the programme, you’ll build your understanding of the context of SEN education. You’ll complete one core module, allowing you to focus on SEN provision within England and worldwide, and consider issues such as inclusive education, how schools and local authorities interpret national education policy, and the ways that SEN provision differs between countries.

This lays the foundations for the rest of your studies, which will allow you to choose from a range of optional modules. You could focus on developmental disorders, or complete a directed study on a topic relevant to your interests and experiences.

Throughout the year, you’ll develop sophisticated skills in research and analysis that you’ll apply to your critical study – an independent piece of research you’ll submit by the end of the programme, on a topic of your choice which may be related to the needs and priorities of your school.

If you choose to study part-time, you’ll study over a longer period and take fewer modules in each year.

Course structure

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Dissertation 60 credits
  • Special Educational Needs: Inclusive Approaches 30 credits
  • Special Educational Needs: Inclusive Curriculum 30 credits

Optional modules

  • Directed Study in Education 1 30 credits
  • Developmental Disorders I: Dyslexia and Developmental Coordination Disorder 30 credits
  • Developmental Disorders II: Attention Deficit Disorder and Autistic Spectrum Disorder 30 credits

Learning and teaching

We use a range of teaching and learning methods. For this course, most modules are taught with a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials, which will take place in the evening. However, independent study is crucial to this degree as it allows you to build your skills, prepare for lectures and pursue your own interests more closely.


These are no exams on this course. Instead, assessment works through written coursework such as essays, case studies and other assignments.

Entry requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) or equivalent qualification and, normally, at least three years of relevant professional experience.

We may consider applicants with alternative experience on an individual basis.

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. Please contact the School of Education postgraduate admissions team for information.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

If English is not your first language, you may be able to take a pre-sessional course before you begin your studies. This can help if you:

  • don't meet the English language requirements for your course or
  • want to improve your understanding of academic language and practices in your area of study.

Our pre-sessional courses are designed with a progression route to the degree programme and are tailored to the subject area. For information and entry requirements, read Language for Education (6 weeks) and Language for Social Science and Arts: Education (10 weeks).

How to apply

Application Deadlines

We generally advise you to apply before the end of July.

Documents and information you need

  • A copy of your degree certificate and transcript of your results.
  • Two references.
  • A personal statement of 750-1000 words, telling us something about yourself and why you would be suited to the programme.
  • If English is not your first language, you will need to send us evidence of your English language qualifications.

This link takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.
If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Admissions policy

School of Education Taught Postgraduate Admissions Policy


UK/EU: £6,750 (total)

International: £15,750 (total)

Read more about paying fees and charges.

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Part-time fees are normally calculated based on the number of credits you study in a year compared to the equivalent full-time course. For example, if you study half the course credits in a year, you will pay half the full-time course fees for that year.

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

Career opportunities

Teachers and specialists take this qualification at different points in their career and their motivations and ambitions vary.

For some teachers, it helps them to critically reflect on classroom activities and enhance their teaching practices; for others, it provides the foundations for moving into a more specialist role or opens up the opportunities for progress onto doctoral studies.

We encourage applicants who are not in full-time work to undertake some volunteer placements to help them to contextualise their studies and strengthen their CV.

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