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. This means you’ll either study topics like inter-agency working under Every Child Matters, or how SEN provision compares between different countries. Then you’ll expand on this knowledge when you choose from optional modules, allowing you to focus on topics that interest you or are relevant to your career.

You could study developmental disorders, inclusive provision and more – 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 which allows you to study the modules on developmental disorders from the MA Special Educational Needs. If you decide to move on to the MA 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, considering issues such as inclusive education, how schools and local authorities interpret national education policy or the ways in which 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, teaching strategies for children with different needs.

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.

There are two compulsory modules, and you’ll choose another three optional modules.

Compulsory modulesOptional modules
- Critical Study
- Special Educational Needs: Principles and Practice
- Special Educational Needs: International Perspectives
- Directed Study in Education 1
- The Context of Deaf Education
- Co-ordinating Inclusive Provision II
- Developmental Disorders I: Dyslexia and Developmental Coordination Disorder
- Developmental Disorders II: Attention Deficit Disorder and Autistic Spectrum Disorder
- Teaching Children with Learning Difficulties
- Developmental Disorders in the Early Years
- Teaching Children with Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties
- Special Needs Coordination 2a
- Special Needs Coordination 2b

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, since 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 you’ll largely be assessed using 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’ 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.

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for the programme may be able to study an English for Academic Purposes pre-sessional course with a progression route to the degree programme. For information and entry requirements, read Pre-sessional programmes.

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 750-1,000 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: £6,000

International: £15,000

Read more about paying fees and charges.

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

Part-time fees are 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. Part-time fees may increase each year in line with full-time fees, so subsequent years of study may cost more than the first.

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 is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out if you can get help at Postgraduate funding.

Career opportunities

Individuals take this qualification at different points in their career and their motivations and ambitions vary. However, it is clear that it can have a very significant impact.

For some, 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.

Applicants who are not in full-time work are encouraged to undertake some volunteer placements which help them to contextualise their studies and strengthen their CV.

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