Undergraduate Course

Special Educational Needs and Disability (Top-Up)

BA (Hons)

Available for September start
Available in clearing

 - Call 01332 592024

Online course details

Study options

Part-time: 1-2 years

UK fee

£5,430 (2024/25)

International fee

£5,430 (2024/25)

Course level



BA (Hons)

Start date




If you already work or intend to work in a special education needs and disability (SEND) setting and hold a level 5 qualification, this programme allows you to top-up to a full BA (Hons) degree with one or two years of online study. This course will deepen your critical knowledge, skills and application to an understanding of the diverse and inclusive aspect of SEND. An online top-up degree is ideal if you currently juggle work and family commitments.

The highlights

99%student satisfaction for learning opportunities on the BA (Hons) SEND programme*National Student Survey 2023
Top30for EducationThe Guardian University Guide 2024
97%student satisfaction for teaching on the BA (Hons) SEND programme* National Student Survey 2023

Your learning is supported by a team of research active academics

You will develop a broad understanding of issues and debates around SEND, that can be applied in education, social care, health and related areas. You will be taught by experts in the field and will benefit from the latest research and theories which underpin this area to ensure that your learning is relevant and up to date.

Critical application of theory to practice

Explore how SEND may impact upon children, young people and adults, building the professional skills and knowledge to meet their needs. You’ll advance your professional development through studying core modules which cover profound and multiple learning difficulties, autism and the importance of identity and the lived experience. The curriculum is structured to provide a cohesive focus on the key issues and debates relating to SEND, from a multi-disciplinary perspective.

Enhance your professional development plan (PDP)

This online course will allow you to integrate personal development planning (PDP) into your workload. Opportunities throughout the online course for PDP are included through the application of learning materials to current, or intended practice within SEND, as well as the use of critical reflection within modules. By working in a collaborative online learning environment, you will broaden your horizons in your learning by sharing experiences with your fellow students from across the world. Our distinctive degree paves the way to some of the most rewarding, inspiring and satisfying careers of all – working in a range of contexts related to Special Educational Needs and Disability.

What you will study

This programme supports your development of SEND, synthesising research, theory and practice in an applied and critical manner. The course is structured into four 20 credit modules and one 40 credit module.

We will advise you of your study plan - the running order and availability of the modules - when you are invited to enrol.

Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

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Online Discovering Online Learning webinar: July 2024

Thursday, 11 July 2024 12.00 - 13.00

During this hour long webinar, we'll take you through how online learning works and what you can expect as an online student with the University of Derby.

Book your webinarBook your webinar

How you will learn

Teaching and Learning

Modules within this course will be delivered by expert academics who also work as SEND professionals. This ensures that module content remains up-to-date and highly relevant and brings through pertinent examples from a range of SEND contexts which are current and topical.

Delivered entirely online through our user-friendly student portal dashboard and intuitive digital learning environment, you will interact with your tutors and fellow students and through a mix of virtual live classrooms, tutorials and guest lectures. Group discussions and debate are held through forums and community spaces and the use of collaborative tools such as wikis for group projects and assignments. Digital texts, ebooks, journals, databases and more are available electronically via our library.

Pace of study

The academic year is made up of three 10-week terms, known as trimesters. We recommend about 20 hours of study per week to complete one 20-credit module over a 10-week trimester.

If you opt to undertake the accelerated study plan whereby you will study two modules in one trimester, we recommend 40 hours of study per week.

Should you decide to study on the accelerated rate, you should ensure that you have the capacity to fully engage with your studies and achieve the best grades and final award. You will need to balance approximately 40 hours of study per week alongside your professional and personal life and commitments.

Assessment method

This course is assessed through 100% coursework with a range of methods, such as essays, case studies, interpretation of the lived experience, through planning, delivering and critically evaluating a micro-teach. Other methods include recorded oral presentations and the production of a pamphlet, academic poster or multi-media product, through research reports, presentations, group work an. Assessment methods reflect the complexities surrounding SEND and are designed to be authentic and help our students underpin research, the impact of SEND on individuals and application to practice.

Personal Academic Tutor

Your personal academic tutor will work with you to help you get the most out of your time at university. Having someone to talk to about your academic progress, your university experience and your professional aspirations is hugely valuable. We want you to feel challenged in your studies, stretched but confident to achieve your academic and professional goals.

Student support and guidance

Whilst we encourage our students to become independent, life-long learners, we also recognise that offering the right support and guidance will help you to achieve your goals. There is a wealth of support available to you at the University, from your dedicated Personal Tutor and Online Learner Advisor, through to our:

All these services, and more, are available to you as an online student at the University of Derby.

Who will teach you

Trevor Cotterill

Trevor Cotterill
Programme leader

Trevor is Programme Leader for BA (Hons) and FdA Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND). His research interests include the etiology of autism and ADHD, issues and debates in the area of SEND and working with individuals with complex needs.

View full staff profileView full staff profile

Entry requirements

You'll need:

English language qualifications

If English is not your first language, or you have not successfully completed your highest level of qualification in English, you will need an English language qualification. For this course you will need at least one of the following:

For international students, if you do not hold IELTS, we will accept the following:

Find out more about our English language requirements

Recognition of Prior Learning

Exemptions can be made on the basis of prior academic study, professional qualifications or professional experience. Students that have already studied at another institution, completed a training course or have work experience which appears equivalent to one or more modules of this programme, may be able to translate this prior learning into credits towards course modules so that they do not have to study them again. This is called recognition of prior learning or RPL.

Fees and funding

2024/25 for new entrants

Starting between September 2024 and August 2025.

 Per 20 creditsModulesCost
UK/EU/International £905 6 £5,430

About your fees

This figure would be the total cost of this course based on the fee in the current academic year. However, please note that fees normally increase in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees, which is reviewed on an annual basis. The total fee you pay may therefore increase if your course lasts longer than one year.

If you are required to undertake any associate study or additional study as a condition of your offer for the programme, please be aware that the cost for this will be in addition to the programme cost stated above.

Flexible payment plans available

Choose from two payment plan options:

Undergraduate funding options

Depending on where you are from in the UK or EU, and on your pace of study, you may be eligible for an undergraduate student loan. Accessible through Student Finance, this is a non-income based loan to meet the cost of tuition fees.

If you are considering applying for a student loan, please also see our additional guidance on Loans for Online Students.

If you already hold an honours degree, and you are looking to re-skill or up-skill, you may still be eligible for a loan to study this course.

How to apply

Please look at our application deadlines before you apply.

Apply directly to the University.

Apply now

For support with completing your application, view our guide to the application process.

Documents to support your application

In order for your application to be assessed, you will need to provide the following documents when you apply:

*Documents not in English or Welsh must be accompanied by a certified translation by a professional translator/translation company. Each translation must contain:

A list of approved translators can be found on the UK Government website.

Please note: failure to submit any documentation when requested, may result in your application being withdrawn.

Application deadlines

All of our online courses have set start dates throughout the year. We require time to review your application and get back to you with a response before your course starts. Take a look at information regarding applying for an online course to see full details of deadlines and term dates.


This programme is ideal for anyone currently working, or intending to work with children, young people, or adults with SEND across health, education and social care, or anyone interested in SEND as an academic discipline. It is suitable for those wishing to broaden their skills and career by taking additional qualifications. Well qualified professionals will find there are ample opportunities for promotion and progression to leadership positions in a range of SEND provision. Options for further online include:

Doctor of Education (EdD)

MA (Education)

Contact us

Contact the University of Derby Online Learning:

Contact usContact usFrequently asked questionsFrequently asked questions

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