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Course details

Study options

Full-time: 3 years, Part-time: Up to 6 years

UK/EU fee

£9,250 per year* (2020/21)

International fee

£14,045 per year (2020/21)

UCAS points

112 (September 2020 entry)

UCAS code


Course level



BA (Hons)

Start date



Kedleston Road, Derby Campus

If you do not achieve the typical entry points required, you may want to consider studying this course with foundation year.

View with foundation year optionView with foundation year option

Course description

Top25for Education**The Guardian University Guide 2020

Our distinctive degree paves the way to some of the most rewarding, inspiring and satisfying careers of all – working in special educational needs and disability support.

This course prepares you for a broad range of roles where you can improve the life experiences of individuals with special learning needs. You’ll build the skills and knowledge to support children and adults with diverse needs, such as specific learning difficulties, physical disabilities, behavioural problems and sensory impairments.

Specialist knowledge to take you far

You’ll gain an in-depth understanding of all aspects of SEND. We engage you in discussions and debates, harnessing the latest research to stimulate your thinking and challenge your ideas. You’ll also explore the possible psychological, sociological, philosophical and biological causes of SEND.

Successful SEND support relies on collaboration from a range of professionals including carers, social workers, special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCOs) and therapists. As part of the course, you’ll take a close look at the importance of this multi-agency support and the positive impact it can have on individuals.

Gain vital practical skills on placement

Throughout the course we place a strong focus on real world learning. To ensure that you’re ‘career ready’ when you graduate, you’ll learn a range of practical techniques to help support individuals both inside and outside the classroom.

You’ll undertake two placements as part of your studies, giving you important insights into professional practice. You can choose to be based in a variety of settings such as hospitals, schools, social services, adult provision or charitable organisations. In your second year, you’ll have the option to undertake study and a placement abroad.

Be inspired by our expertise

Our course is delivered by a dedicated and enthusiastic team, including experts in the fields of education, health, psychology and social work. They will share their experiences with you and provide fresh perspectives on the challenges and opportunities of working in SEND.

The University has a growing reputation as a centre for excellence in SEND and inclusive practices, which means your course is underpinned by latest theories and innovative ideas. Our lecturers regularly publish their work and have conducted important studies into a wide range of subjects, such as managing the inclusion of SEND pupils in the classroom.

Draw on our professional networks

Our strong professional links enrich your learning and introduce you to leading practitioners. Our Visiting Professors include notable figures such as Brian Lamb OBE, who chaired a high-profile inquiry into parental confidence in SEND and whose work has influenced major policy changes.

We have launched a Professional Development Network for SEND and Inclusive Practice which brings together practitioners who are working to ensure positive, effective and inclusive education across the special and mainstream sectors.

As part of this professional community, you’ll be able to take part in our annual SEND conferences which attract influential guest speakers and spark important debates about how to improve SEND provision.

A vibrant learning experience

We pride ourselves on providing a friendly, welcoming learning environment where you will receive plenty of encouragement and guidance. Our tutors are approachable, dedicated and passionate about their subjects.

You’ll learn in our Kirtley Building which offers first-rate facilities, including specially designed collaborative learning spaces and a large hall for practical activities and observing learning in action.

Pursue your personal interests

We offer a choice of optional modules so that you can tailor your studies to match your personal interests and career aspirations. These could cover themes such as autism in children and adults, attention disorders, diversity in social, emotional and behavioural development, and diversity in communication, speech and language development.

If you would like to broaden your horizons further still, you also have the Go Places, Go Further scheme, we have agreements with universities in countries such as Amsterdam and Brussels, where you can explore a new culture and add an extra dimension to your CV.

Guaranteed interviews for our PGCE Primary

If you complete this degree and meet the entry requirements for our PGCE Primary course, we will guarantee you an interview during your final year of undergraduate study (subject to places being available). 

Places on our PGCE are highly sought after, so we recommend you apply as early as possible once UCAS opens.

Terms and conditions:

What to expect on our SEND course

View What to expect on our SEND course video transcript

What you will study

Year 1Year 1Year 2Year 2Year 3Year 3

Code: 4ED503

Learning in Higher Education

Success at undergraduate level involves demonstrating a range of key academic and transferable skills; this module helps you to develop and apply these essential skills. You will begin with a self-audit to identify current strengths and weaknesses in areas such as time management, finding and handling information, referencing and writing academically.

As part of the process of becoming a self-managed learner, you will begin to develop an Action Plan that considers strategies and resources, which will help you to meet specific targets that you have set yourself. Importantly, you will also identify skills/areas for future improvement and /or development.

This module will be delivered using a range of teaching activities including, lectures, structured exercises (both individual and group) to facilitate practical experience and computer based workshops to promote effective IT competences.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 4ED506

SEND and Inclusion

This module will explore the origins and development of special and inclusive education, identifying key legislation. It will increase understanding of the inclusion debate and the impact of this on policy and practice in the UK. It will explore the concepts ‘special educational needs’, ‘disability’ and ‘inclusion’ in a broad and critical way looking at a wider range of perspectives. It will also evaluate the policies, practices and attitudes that might enable the education system to become more inclusive.
20 Credits

Code: 4ED507

Critical and Global Perspectives

A child, young person or adult with SEND may live anywhere in the world. This module will explore the International Perspectives on SEND, including Europe, the USA and Africa. It focuses upon a comparative approach including legislation, policies, practices and issues such as classification and inclusive practice. The focus is on how differing countries respond to the needs of an individual with SEND and how this impacts upon their life.
20 Credits

Code: 4ED508

Issues and Debates into the Aetiology of SEND

The central philosophical debate over the aetiology of SEND is not about its existence, but rather over how to define it, the causes and the manifestation of behaviours associated with specific difficulties. Using research evidence, this module examines biological, neurological, psychological and sociological theories about the origins of learning difficulties and disabilities.

Key issues in the debate surrounding the contribution to learning difficulties and disabilities are also examined. You will encounter a wide range of attitudes and beliefs associated with differing perspectives and this module will allow you to not only enter into the debate, but also allow you to make informed decisions about the origins of SEND.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 4ED509

Social Behavioural and Emotional Development

In whichever SEND context you are likely to end up working in, there is a fundamental need to be conversant with a range of perspectives, research and theoretical explanations for human growth, development and behaviour.

This module is designed to provide a foundation of knowledge within the frameworks of biology, sociology and psychology. A range of theories spanning the human life course will be examined and these will be supported by relevant research case studies.

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20 Credits

Code: 4ED510

Historical Development of SEND

SEND practitioners work in a context which is always changing and where there are opposing views about what terms to use and what practices to adopt. The language of special educational needs has become highly contentious and confusing for both parents and professionals. Health services refer to ‘disabled’ children; social care services to ‘children in need’; education to ‘special educational needs’ or, after the age of 16, to ‘learning difficulties and/or disabilities’.

This module puts terminology and policy into its historical, cultural, political and current context. It also explores how different ways of thinking about SEND (such as the medical model, social model, and rights model) have dominated legislation, policy and practice in various ways at various times. You will also develop a clear understanding of legal definitions in this field and how and why they are contentious or debateable.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 5ED509

Research Methods for Independent Study

This module will provide you with the knowledge, skills, and understanding to undertake your level 6 Educational Independent Study.

Drawing on a qualitative approach to educational research enquiry, this module will enable you to examine and critique the theoretical and practical process of educational research design from developing an understanding of both qualitative and quantitative research methodological approaches, to consideration of research ethics, access, sample and limitation.

Additionally, you will be introduced to a selection of research methods for data collection, and mechanisms for analysis of such data with an emphasis on qualitative research methods.

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20 Credits

Code: 5ED510

Specific Learning Difficulties

The umbrella term Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) is used to cover a wide range of categorical terms which are applied to learners and which signal the diversity of the learner population.

This module will provide you with an opportunity to develop an informed understanding of, and insight into different perspectives on the specificity, origin, identification, consequences and educational response surrounding specific learning difficulties with specific reference to creating an inclusive classroom.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 5ED517

Practitioner Enquiry

Throughout this module, we refer to practitioner inquiry. This is research, or investigation, undertaken by practitioners or those wishing to research practice. It is research undertaken by practitioner-researchers who are already working or intend to work in the SEND context.

This module centres on a placement of 12 days/72 hours which aims to offer you an opportunity to develop an appreciation of a specific context in a SEND such as Education, Health or Social Care setting and the working practices of professionals who work in the sector. You will also begin to reflect on your own professional identity and profile in context.

This module will allow you the prospect of reflecting on theories and practice studied throughout your programme and the application of these theories and policies in a practical setting. You will have the chance to develop the transferable skills of professionalism, communication, time management, organisation, and interpersonal relations.

During this module, you will have the opportunity to think critically about your placement context and to explore topics relating to that setting.

You will be supported to identify aspects upon which to reflect upon current and relevant developments in theory and practice. Specific topics for reflection will be identified related to current SEND issues a current example would be to consider and critically analyse how professionals within the setting are currently reflecting on their SEND provision in the light of the current governmental direction and changes. A series of questions for you to examine within your placement will be housed in your Personal Development Portfolio, on Blackboard.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 5ED518

Professionalism in SEND

This module provides you with an insight into the ever changing world of the SEND practitioner. You will examine the role of the SEND specialist and support professionals in a range of settings and contexts.

You will be critically evaluating the challenges faced by SEND practitioners and how the diverse needs of learners with SEND are met in practice.

There will be an emphasis upon embedding theoretical underpinning to practice within a specific context.

The module will allow you to understand the many roles of the professional in a SEND context and is taught alongside the placement module Practitioner Inquiry.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 5ED519

Cognitive and Language Development

This module reflects on the interrelationship of language and cognitive development. You will examine differing theories of how these are linked and the importance of milestones, language delay and disorders and subsequent impact on the cognitive development of the individual.
20 Credits

Code: 5ED520

Ethical Practice and Safeguarding

This module aims to develop your knowledge and skills of Safeguarding and Ethical Practice within a range of SEND contexts. Effective protection is essential as part of wider work to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults.

However, all agencies and individuals should aim to proactively safeguard and promote the welfare of children, young people and adults so that the need for action to protect individuals from harm is reduced. This module allows you to examine these aspects within a legislative and professional context.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 6ED513

SEND in Context

This module aims to develop further the ideas raised in the module the Changing Role of the SEND Practitioner and to offer you the opportunity to develop your understanding of not only the role of the SEND specialist and support professionals in a specific setting, but also to examine how the setting supports children, young people or adults in relation to one of your optional modules.

You will be able to critically reflect on the challenges faced by SEND practitioners and how the specific needs of a heterogeneous group of individuals are met in a particular context such as Education, Health or Social Care. You will be supported to identify aspects to reflect upon in current and relevant developments in theory and practice.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 6ED998

Educational Independent Study

This 40 credit independent study module is the culminating experience of the education studies degree. The Educational Independent Study module is a two-semester project in which students pursue independent research on a question or problem of their choice, engage with the scholarly debates in the relevant disciplines, and with the guidance of their mentor produce a substantial product of 10,000 words (or the equivalent) that reflects a deep understanding of the topic.

This project is a multifaceted assignment that serves as a culminating academic and intellectual experience for students in their final year of their degree. The final independent study project may take a wide variety of forms, but all are long-term investigative projects that culminate in a final product or presentation.

Students select a topic, profession, or social issue that interests them, conduct research on the subject, maintain the findings or results, create a final product demonstrating their learning acquisition and/or conclusions. The final format of the Educational Independent Study will be outlined in the research proposal and negotiated with the project supervisor. Some of the final product forms could include but are not limited to, a paper, short film or multimedia presentation, or a professional portfolio. Students could give an oral presentation on the project to an audience who collectively evaluate its quality. The aim of the final product would be for students to create something meaningful for them and for their participants.

As part of their final assessment students will assess the impact of their educational experiences on their ethical perspectives and critical thinking skills. Students will reflect on and evaluate their personal and professional growth throughout the project, the benefits of the knowledge gained and evaluate the strategy employed, as well as reflect on the impact of these elements on their future.

This project is designed to develop employability and a sense of ‘graduateness’ by encouraging students to think critically, solve challenging problems, and develop transferable skills such as project management, critical thinking skills, oral communication, public speaking, research skills, media literacy, teamwork, planning, self-sufficiency, or goal setting. In some cases, the projects will be also interdisciplinary, in the sense that they require students to apply skills or investigate issues across many different subject areas or domains of knowledge.

The Educational Independent Study module is conducted in a supportive seminar environment that draws on the participant's experience and interest in order to synthesize students’ learning in the creation of a significant contribution to scholarship and/or professional practice.

More information
40 Credits

Code: 6ED514

Attention Disorders (ADD, ADHD)

This module builds on your previous knowledge and understanding gained from other modules, such as Issues and Debates into the Aetiology of SEND and Specific Learning Difficulties to enable you to explore a specific category’ of learning difficulties/disabilities, that of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) which is a group of behavioural symptoms that include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder without Hyperactivity).

It looks at these within a historical context, including aspects of identification, diagnosis, responses to this issue within the context of education or health and Social Care. You will critically evaluate myths and debates surrounding Attention Disorders, including comparative research from countries such as France.

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20 Credits

Code: 6ED515

Language Literacies and Dyslexia

This module provides a broad and critical perspective of language literacies and literacy difficulties/dyslexia through sociocultural and cognitive research, as well as education policies.

It embraces school and further educational demands of literacy skills, the demands of family and social literacy practices, and peer demands of new literacies, such as digital literacies.

The module establishes the fundamental relationship between language and literacy in typical and atypical development. You will study literacy difficulties/dyslexia in contexts of monolingual, multilingual and multimodal discourses.

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20 Credits

Code: 6ED516

Autism (Children)

This module extends the areas covered in previous modules Issues and Debates into the Aetiology of SEND and Specific Learning Difficulties. This includes a critical review of the main ‘symptoms’ and manifestations of autism in relation to the core ‘triad’ or ‘dyad’ of difficulties in communication, social interaction and flexibility of thought and the ways in which these vary in their expression and severity between individuals and sub-groups on the spectrum.

It will provide you with current knowledge and ideas about the autism spectrum, allowing you to develop skills in identifying, assessing and meeting the needs of children in a range of contexts. The evidence base underpinning interventions in autism is explored and key principles informing current practice are discussed and analysed.

Key approaches to care and therapeutic interventions for people on the autism spectrum are examined and the evidence base for each approach is considered.

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20 Credits

Code: 6ED517

Autism (Adults)

The aims of this module are to give you knowledge of the autism spectrum based on current theory, research and practice and the relationship of this to adults. You will interpret this knowledge for the support and education of adults with autism, encompassing the range of ability and settings. The module also aims to develop skills in identifying and meeting the needs of adults with autism, and to improve your awareness of different approaches.

It encourages you to think for yourself and use the knowledge and skills gained from the course and placements to select and research topics of relevance to your own interest. In this way, your learning directly influences practice, benefitting the professional setting and the individuals they support. The importance of the user's voice is reflected in all teaching material.

You will be taught to consider how autism theory applies to the individuals that are supported in their adult lives and what this should mean for practice. You will gain insights into the diversity of the autistic experience for adults, and learn about the range of individual and social barriers that can be experienced.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 6ED518

Severe Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties

There are five themes which underpin this module. These are: Understanding SLD/PML, Assessment and Planning, Interventions, Curriculum and, Facilitating Learning.

It identifies how a range of professionals/practitioners who work with children and adults with learning difficulties in educational settings across the severe and profound range (SLD/PMLD) including autism (where it overlaps with SLD/PMLD).

Most learners with SLD/PMLD use specialist services such as special schools or colleges but some use inclusive services in nurseries, mainstream schools or community education.

The term severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties refers to what is described as mental retardation, severe developmental disabilities or severe intellectual disabilities elsewhere in the world. 

The module covers the most disabled children and adults in our society. In many countries, these children and adults live in institutions and do not attend school nor join in community activities such as paid work.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 6ED519

Cognitive Diversity (Dyscalculia Cognitive Disability)

The concept of cognitive disabilities is extremely broad, and not always well-defined. In loose terms, a person with a cognitive disability has greater difficulty with one or more types of mental tasks than the average person.

There are too many types of cognitive disabilities but most have some sort of basis in the biology or physiology of the individual and this module examines the connection between a person's biology and mental processes.

A person with profound cognitive disabilities will need assistance with nearly every aspect of daily living. Someone with a minor learning disability may be able to function adequately despite the disability, perhaps even to the extent that the disability is never discovered or diagnosed.

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20 Credits

Code: 6ED520

Physical Diversity (Physical Impairment)

This is a broad area and it is not possible to cover in detail the different types of disability that professionals working in the area of SEND may encounter. There are however general principles in both planning and delivery that may be applied regardless of particular settings.

This module will examine the EU position regarding citizens with physical disabilities. You will develop some understanding of different types of physical disability individuals may experience and the causes and types of physical impairment.

A key component is to develop a deeper appreciation and understanding gained from previous modules such as SEND and Inclusion, concerning the range of barriers faced by those with physical disabilities and ways to overcome these barriers.

More information
20 Credits

Code: 6ED521

Diversity in Communication, Speech and Language Development

This module develops the ideas raised in the module Cognitive and Language Development. It helps you to explore the speech, language and communication difficulties experienced by some learners with SEND. It is estimated that one child in ten encounters difficulty in the development of speech, language or communication.

The nature of these issues includes speech intelligibility, verbal comprehension, oral expression and the use of language within a social context. In this module you will examine competing theories of language development and how a disruption in language development may have consequences on a learner’s social, educational and other abilities.

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20 Credits

Code: 6ED522

Diversity in Social Emotional and Behavioural Development

It is essential that professionals understand developmental diversities. Understanding the needs and the developmental processes of humans is the foundation to an awareness of how developmental diversity impacts upon the individual.

You will further examine how theories of development can be related to social, emotional and behavioural diversity and difficulties which might arise. The module further develops perspectives underpinning such diversity and their potential in understanding the nature of SEBD, its potential antecedents, and interventions to meet the needs of children, young people and adults.

More information
20 Credits

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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How you will learn

Throughout the degree, you’ll be supported and encouraged to develop your capacity to evaluate, analyse and critically engage in the field of SEND, drawing on a wide range of learning, teaching and assessment activities. As you progress, you’ll be expected to undertake increasing responsibility for independent self-directed study, drawing on the range of resources available to you. At all levels, you are invited to engage in e-learning opportunities.

How you'll be assessed

There are no exams. You’ll be assessed through small group work, individual peer presentations, completion of directed tasks and drafting of tasks, tutorial discussions and coursework.

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Outdoor Learning Space

Learn how to apply education in an outdoor setting, using nature to improve the personal, social and technical skills of children.

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Personal academic tutoring

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.

Find out more about personal academic tutoring

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

September 2020 typical entry requirements

RequirementWhat we're looking for
UCAS points112 (up to 16 from AS-levels)
Specific requirements at A-level

No specific subject requirements

Specific requirements at GCSEGCSE Maths and English Grade C/Grade 4 (or above) or equivalent qualification
IELTS6.0 (with 5.5 in each skills area)
Interview / AuditionN/A

Alternative entry qualifications:

We usually consider an A-level in General Studies as a supplementary qualification. A good application/performance will be taken into account if you do not meet the criteria/offer conditions.

A Disqualification by Association (DBA) statement is required for this course. In some circumstances an Ofsted Waiver may also be required. We will contact you with information on how to complete this when required. More information.

An Enhanced Disclosure & Barring Service certificate cleared by the University is required for this course. We will contact you with information on how to complete this once you have applied. More information.

Our entry requirements for this course should be read together with the University's general entry requirements, which details subjects we accept, alternative qualifications and what we're looking for at Derby.

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Academic Achievement Scholarship

We’re offering eligible students a £1,000 scholarship to celebrate your hard work and success.

Learn more about the Academic Achievement ScholarshipLearn more about the Academic Achievement Scholarship

Fees and funding

2020/21 Fees


£9,250 per year*

£1,155 per module*


£14,045 per year


* The fees stated above are for the 2019/20 academic year; fees for 2020/21 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. We will update this information as soon as it is available.

Further information about our fees and support you may be entitled to.

Additional costs and optional extras

How to apply

UK/EU students

Full-time students applying to start in September should apply for this course through UCAS or you can apply directly to the University for an undergraduate course if you’re not applying to any other UK university in the same year.

Part-time students should apply directly to the University.

Apply through UCASApply directly to the University

Guidance for EU students post-Brexit

International students

Full-time students applying to start in September should apply for this course through UCAS or you can apply directly to the University for an undergraduate course if you’re not applying to any other UK university in the same year.

Apply through UCASApply directly to the University

Guidance for international applicants applying for an undergraduate degree

If you already have a foundation degree and wish to top up to a full BA (Hons) in Special Educational Needs and Disability, you should apply directly to the University.


Our BA (Hons) Special Educational Needs and Disability degree prepares you for a wide range of careers in the SEND sector, including family liaison, advocacy, inclusion support, teaching assistance, mentoring, adult education and careers services.

You could also take your skills and knowledge to the next level by progressing to postgraduate study in areas such as health, psychological services and social care.

Please note that this course does not lead to Qualified Teacher Status. However, if you’d like to train to be a teacher, you will be guaranteed an interview for our PGCE Primary if you meet the entry requirements. 

You could also apply to study our PGCE Post-14 (Education and Training) or PG Cert Early Years with Early Years Teacher Status (0-5).

Contact us

If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.

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Additional information about your studies

Download programme specification

Teaching hours

Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.

Additional costs and optional extras

We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, excellent facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.

Included in your fees

Mandatory costs not included in your fees

Optional costs not included in your fees

Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.

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