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MA Special and Additional Learning Needs - PgDip, PgCert

Course overview

Start date

September 2021

Subject area

Teaching and Education





Course summary

This exciting course, which is delivered online, is a collaboration between the University of East London and the Institute of Child Education and Psychology Europe (ICEP).

Underpinned by the latest research in special education, the course builds on participants’ existing skills and competencies. The aim is to enhance the quality of education for children and young people with special and additional learning needs in settings worldwide.

The course has an international flavour, drawing students from countries such as Australia, Hong Kong, Kuwait, UAE, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand. It does not just focus on the UK but also looks at how policy is implemented around the world.

One of the most exciting aspects of this course is that knowledge is co-constructed through the online discussion boards.

As a student you will share your experiences and knowledge about policy and practice in your own context, leading to a richer understanding of global issues in special and additional learning needs for all participants.

Return to campus: dual delivery

In a Covid-secure environment, enjoy learning on our state-of-the-art campuses and flex between online delivery

Find out more

Choose from a wide range of modules

The course offers a diverse range of modules devised by experts in the field. We have devised modules to enhance your knowledge of a range of learning needs, as well as to develop your reflective and critical thinking about theories of inclusion and learning.

Study in a long-established department

Both UEL and Institute of Child Education and Psychology Europe (ICEP) have a long track record in providing high-quality courses in the field of special educational needs in the UK, Ireland, and internationally.

Online study

The online format of the course and the flexibility to pay for modules on an individual basis offers you the opportunity to work around your existing schedule and gain a recognised university qualification regardless of location.


What we're researching

Dr Paula Bosanquet, who teaches on both the MA Education and MA Special Educational Needs courses, is a world-renowned expert on independent learning and scaffolding. Her talks on the subject are in high demand locally and nationally for teaching assistants and teachers, focusing on how they can enable pupils, particularly those with special educational needs, to be independent learners. 

Dr Wayne Tennent, who teaches on the MA Education course, is an expert in reading comprehension, having written two books on the subject and led numerous projects in schools which have demonstrated impact on pupil achievement in this area. He works extensively with the United Kingdom Literacy Association.

The research of Nicole Whitelaw and Julie Gariazzo, both of whom teach on the MA Special Educational Needs course, is in the area of autism, while Dr Margaret Etherington, course leader of the MA Education, is an expert on art and gender in education.

John Macklin, leader of the MA Leadership in Education, carries out research into leadership in schools in relation to complexity theory.  Warren Kidd, PGCert Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Course Leader, researches in the area of teacher identity and has published extensively in the area of sociology and teaching and learning.  

Our Professional Doctorate (EdD) course draws on the input of researchers from across the School of Education and Communities.  It is led by Dr Gerry Czerniawski, who has published extensively in the areas of teaching and learning, teacher and teacher educator identity, continuing professional development (CPD) and pupil voice.

A founder member of the International Forum for Teacher Educator Development (InFoTED), he serves on the British Educational Research Association (BERA) Council and is chair of BERA's British Curriculum Forum. Gerry is a National Teaching Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Making a difference

UEL is one of the UK’s leading modern research universities. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), 17 per cent of our overall research submission was classified as ‘world-leading’ for its quality and impact – almost double our previous REF score. A further 45 per cent of our work was considered ‘internationally excellent’.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:2 Honours


(Including European Union)


We will also consider a certificate of education; higher level professional training in SEN with demonstrable parity in experience.

As an inclusive university we recognise that applicants who have been out of education for some time may not have the formal qualifications usually required for entry to a course. Where an applicant does not meet the above requirements, consideration may be given to other recognised graduate equivalent status and/or professional experience.We welcome applications from those who can demonstrate their enthusiasm and commitment to study and have relevant life/work experience that equips them to succeed on the course.

Please note that some courses require applicants to meet the entry requirements outlined on the course page. Our pre-entry Information Advice and Guidance Team are able to provide further advice on entry requirements and suitability for study.

Overall IELTS 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening (or recognised equivalent).

If you do not meet the academic English language requirements for your course, you may be eligible to enrol onto a pre-sessional English programme. The length of the course will depend on your current level of English and the requirements for your degree programme. We offer a 5-week and an 11-week pre-sessional course. Find out more here.

You can speak to a member of our Applicant Enquiries team on +44 (0)20 8223 3333, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. Alternatively, you can visit our Information, Advice and Guidance centre.

Fees and funding

All fees for this programme are paid through ICEP Europe. There are a number of ways you can pay:

•    By telephone
•    By bank draft
•    By bank transfer
Each module costs £1,120 (excluding the Research and Dissertation module which costs £2,240). Fees are paid on a module by module basis, meaning you only pay per module you register for. There is no fee for applying.
If you wish to discuss payment options for this course, please contact the admissions team in ICEP Europe;  /  +353 1 651 0618 (IRL)  /  +44 (0) 208 354 7592

The Student Money Advice and Rights Team (SMART) are here to help you navigate
your finances while you're a student at the University of East London.

We can give you advice, information and guidance on government and
university funds so that you receive your full funding entitlement.


Phone: 020 8223 4444

Tuition fees

Fees paid to partner institution.

Tuition fees are subject to annual change. Fees for future years will be published in due course.

How you'll learn

The course is delivered entirely online. Each module consists of reading materials and links to relevant and current policies, as well as audio and video materials which are used to enhance learning.

As a student, you can use our online library facility, allowing access to a wide range of e-books and electronic journals.

You also participate in a series of interactive tasks in which you and your fellow students discuss the issues raised in the light of your own teaching context and educational background.

These tasks encourage interaction between participants, allowing you to explore theory and practice with fellow professionals. The tasks also support you to develop your ideas through discussion with others before approaching the assessment tasks.

In addition to online discussions, which involve the module tutor on a weekly basis, you have access to the module tutor via online tutorials.

You also have access to a wide range of specialist expertise in the area of Special and Additional Learning Needs throughout the course.

The tutors have all worked professionally to a high level in the field and have experience in working with participants from a wide range of cultures, backgrounds and professional contexts.

“The course has a vibrancy brought to it by the diverse experience of our students," says Course Leader Nicole Whitelaw.

"We have teachers, learning support assistants, social workers, adult support workers and many more all participating and sharing their perspectives on special needs and inclusion.

This is further enhanced by the international reach of the course. We have students from across the globe learning collaboratively and supporting each other.”

Your professional learning is further developed through the Research and Methodology module, which prepares you to write a 14 000 word dissertation.

To complete the dissertation, you carry out small-scale research within an educational setting. You will link theory and current research to an area of interest, which allows you to reflect on your own practice and plan for change.

What you'll learn

This course is relevant to both mainstream and specialist settings and the overall aim is to build the capacity of teachers and other professionals to respond effectively to the diverse educational needs of all learners, including those with special and additional educational needs.

You will gain a firm grounding in understanding a range of special educational needs.

You will develop detailed knowledge of specific special needs, including autism, dyslexia and social and emotional mental-health issues.

Throughout the course, you will be supported to develop a critical understanding of theory alongside the practical knowledge you will gain.

Participants are encouraged to make links between theory and their own practice, and become reflective practitioners who are able to think proactively and strategically about provision for pupils with special and additional learning needs

What you'll study

We consistently review and develop our courses and modules to ensure they are up-to-date with sector and industry graduate skills demands. Course structure, modules and options are subject to change.

Autism Spectrum Disorders: Contemporary perspectives and best practice (option)
Dyslexia and Literacy: Issues, perspectives and best practice (option)
Understanding Behaviour perspectives and best practice (option)
Inclusive Education: Collaboration and best practice (option)
Exceptionally able learners: Theories perspectives and best practice (option)
Applied Behavioural analysis: Critical exploration and practice (option)
Research Methods and Dissertation (core)

How you'll be assessed

Each module is assessed through a single portfolio of 5,000 words or equivalent. The dissertation is 14,000 words.

Course specification

Your future career

This course will help you develop a range of transferrable skills that are desirable in a wide variety of careers.

These skills include the knowledge of theories, legislation, policy and practice, computer literacy, planning and time management and written communication. You will also demonstrate your ability to think critically and to design and carry out small-scale research.

The skills and knowledge that you will develop on this course will allow those working in teaching to gain expertise in the increasingly sought after area of special needs.

However, this course could also support careers in areas such as therapy, support work, social work, educational psychology and work with adults with additional needs.

Explore the different career options you can pursue with this degree and see the median salaries of the sector on our Career Coach portal

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Meet us in your country

Our international team travel overseas regularly to meet prospective students and attend recruitment fairs. Our academics also give regular lectures overseas and are happy to speak to prospective students. In addition, we have a large worldwide network of advisors who can provide guidance and support with applying to study at the University of East London.

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