Master Special and Additional Learning Needs


Read more about this program on the institution's website

Program Description

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 Europe). 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 flavor, 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. Successful completion of this Masters programme, leads to the award MA Special and Additional Learning Needs from the University of East London.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 recognized university qualification regardless of location.

Entry requirements

From DEGREE Minimum 2:2 Honours Other entry routes We will also consider a certificate of education; higher level professional training in SEN with demonstrable parity in experience. English Language Requirements Overall IELTS 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening (or recognized equivalent).

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 much 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


  • 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)

Your future career

This course will help you develop a range of transferable 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 in 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.

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 Cass 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's 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.

Last updated Oct 2019

About the School

ICEP Europe is the trusted source for online continuing education and professional development for educators and allied professionals who work with children and young people. Specialising in psycholog ... Read More

ICEP Europe is the trusted source for online continuing education and professional development for educators and allied professionals who work with children and young people. Specialising in psychology and special needs, our courses are all developed and taught by leading practitioners in their fields. Our aim as an organisation is to assist all children in reaching their full potential through the highest quality continuing professional development. Read less