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Education - Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) MA


Nothing about us without us

Our course is designed for people with an interest in autism and critical disability studies and for practitioners across the age range into post compulsory education. Based on the principles on 'nothing about us without us', content is informed by the experiences of people who identify personally with autism and/or SEND. You'll be prepared for a wide variety of settings, from early years of education through to college or university.  Disabled people are actively encouraged to apply and will receive appropriate support.

Why Education (SEND) at LSBU?

Our expert staff are committed to a practice-based approach, and we collaborate with psychologists to create exciting course modules.
We’re London’s number one university for ‘Learning Opportunities’ and in the top two for ‘Learning Community’ (National Student Survey 2018).

No.1 in London for career prospects in Education (Guardian 2019).

The Centre for Educational Research has a number of ongoing disability focused research projects and hosts the Disability Equality Research Network (DERN), ensuring that course content is always research-informed.
Individual modules and sessions can be taken as Continued Professional Development (CPD).
You can choose to take the recognised National Award for SEN Co-ordination to further deepen your understanding of autism.
The Participatory Autism Research Collective (PARC) started at LSBU.
Key course information - ordered by mode
Mode Duration Start date Location
3 years
Start Date
Southwark Campus


  • K2 building

    K2 building

    A major feature of our Southwark campus is K2, a new eight-storey building, designed and constructed using the latest in green building technology.


All modules are assessed by a mix of assignments, presentations, research projects and portfolio development.

Taught modules will differ from year to year; please get in touch with Sophie Mackay to further discuss the course and modules.

Year 1

Students take two of the optional modules list below in year 1:

  • Special educational needs and disability This module will not simply provide you with a toolkit for educational interventions. The notion of inclusive practice is relevant to all learners in all settings, across the age range into adulthood. While the focus of this module is on disability the content has broader application in relation to positively engaging with diversity. It is necessary to understand before attempting to intervene therefore you will be expected to think deeply (at M level) and engage with theory and policy which underpins practice to enable disabled and disadvantaged pupils /students to achieve in their learning.
  • Teaching and learning: The needs of learners with special needs, autism and disability This module will focus on the implications of developments in teaching and learning and changing beliefs about curriculum and assessment – within the school and its local and national context – which have accompanies them. A central aim is that discussion, planning and development, both within the school and across related common modules, will be both encouraged and informed by a shared critical understanding of such changes in practice. Furthermore, this activity will take place within an agreed framework.
  • Understanding autism and learning Participants will gain an evidence-based understanding of ways in which people on the autism spectrum learn at all ages with a view to developing effective interventions. Insights directly from people with lived experience of autism will facilitate appreciation of individuality and strengths as well as challenges associated with autism. Critical disability studies theory will underpin the module and this will involve gaining understanding of societal barriers to social inclusion of people with autism. Participants will combine understanding of characteristics associated with   autism alongside environmental considerations with a view to creating learning environments which minimise barriers and potentially maximise learning
  • Autism individuality and identity Participants will develop evidence-based understanding of autism at all ages (into adulthood) via insights from individuals on the spectrum. Transitions are notoriously problematic for people with autism therefore the focus will be on developing effective mentoring skills (informed by an understanding of individuality and identity) in order to empathically mentor through transitions within / beyond education.  Participants will: appreciate the wide diversity of autism and potential impact of labelling, reflect on barriers to participation  including restrictions arising from stereotyping and environmental /societal factors, focus on gender and life span, consider  conditions conducive to success in education, relationships and work reflect on mentoring for effective  transition
  • Part 1 SENCO National Award This module aims provide students with the skills, knowledge and understanding to enable children and young people with SEND to successfully achieve in their learning.  It is the first of two modules that, on successful completion will provide the student with the National Award for SEN Co-ordination.  The module focuses on the identification of SEND and the teaching and learning strategies needed to improve learning outcomes for children and Young People with SEND.  The module explores why pupils with SEND are more likely to underachieve, experience bullying and barriers to learning.  The module’s content includes examination of current relevant legislation, working with the voice of pupils, pupils’ families and working in a multiagency environment.  The module content and learning outcomes have been designed to enable students to meet the learning outcomes for the NCTL National Award for SEN Co-ordination.
  • Part 2 SENCO National Award This module builds on the previous module, developing the content explored previously in the context of becoming a leader and manager of SEND provision in an educational setting.  The aim of the module is to enable students to achieve the National SENCO award particularly in relation to the standards relating to Leadership and Management.  In particular it enables students to develop and demonstrate the personal and professional qualities and leadership they need to shape an ethos and culture based upon person-centred, inclusive, practice in which the interests and needs of children and young people pupils with SEN and/or disabilities are at the heart of all that takes place.

Year 2

    In addition to one of the modules listed above:

  • Research Methods (compulsory) Teaching is an evidenced-based profession and the Researching Education Module concentrates on the research practices and data collection methods that are commonly used in educational research. Most of the teaching on the MA is research-based, so students will have been introduced to reading research within the other modules. In this module we further develop skills in reading research and go beyond that, to start designing and carrying out small-scale educational research projects, building on the skills developed through coursework for the MA programme.

Year 3

  • Dissertation (compulsory) The dissertation provides you with an opportunity to probe deeply into educational issues that are of concern or interest to you. The dissertation will require you to make use of methods of research and collection of evidence that apply to education; methods to which, for the most part, you will have been introduced within the contexts provided by earlier modules.


This course will enable you to work with disabled students in schools, colleges, alternative education settings and in universities. Its content is of benefit to both teachers and staff in non-teaching roles, including mentors, disability officers and learning support assistants. It's also relevant to staff in strategic and operational leadership roles.

It is a professional and academic degree that provides an in-depth understanding of inclusive practice in education across the age range (in keeping with the 0-25 framework in the Children and Families Act 2014). You'll explore the diverse requirements of learners identified with SEND and the best practice to support inclusive learning. You'll be encouraged to critically engage with relevant theory and legislation contextualised and applied in practice.

This programme will contribute to your employability and the National SENCO award may be a requirement of your workplace.

Progression from the MA to the Doctorate in Education can further enhance your prospects, particularly in academia and research, giving you the opportunity to become published in referred journals.

Employability Service

We are University of the Year for Graduate Employment for the second year in a row - The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018, 2019.

At LSBU, we want to set you up for a successful career. During your studies – and for two years after you graduate – you’ll have access to our Employability Service, which includes:

  • An online board where you can see a wide range of placements: part-time, full-time or voluntary. You can also drop in to see our Job Shop advisers, who are always available to help you take the next step in your search.
  • Our Careers Gym offering group workshops on CVs, interview techniques and finding work experience, as well as regular presentations from employers across a range of sectors.

Our Student Enterprise team can also help you start your own business and develop valuable entrepreneurial skills.



Fabienne Benoist

School/Division: Law and Social Sciences / Centre for Education and School Partnerships
Job title: Course Director for the BA (Hons) Education Top Up; Senior Lecturer

Fabienne Benoist is the course director for the BA (Hons) Education Top Up programme and a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Education and School Partnerships.

Gianna Knowles

School/Division: Law and Social Sciences / Centre for Education and School Partnerships
Job title: Associate Professor in Education Studies

Gianna is an Associate Professor in Education Studies. She has over 12 years experience of teaching in primary schools in London and the Midlands. Gianna has written widely about inclusion, diversity and social justice.

Dr Nicola Martin

School/Division: Law and Social Sciences / Centre for Education and School Partnerships
Job title: Head of Research, Higher Degrees and Student Experience

Nicola has a PhD focussing on inclusive practice with autistic university students. She has 35 years’ experience in education working with disabled pupils and students from nursery age to adults in FE and HE and an international research profile in the field.

Martha Shaw

School/Division: Law and Social Sciences / Centre for Education and School Partnerships
Job title: Senior Lecturer

Martha is a qualified teacher in sociology, with an established research profile in the area of beliefs and values in education.


Teaching and learning

You'll be taught by Dr Nicola Martin who has substantial experience in the field of autism, including working with Professor Baron-Cohen on the Cambridge University Autism Project.

You'll also be taught by Gianna Knowles who has considerable experience of working with school staff to develop their Special Educational Needs Departments. Gianna has published a range of academic textbooks that support staff development in this area.

You'll benefit from an up to date Virtual Learning Environment via Moodle and be actively encouraged to make use of the extensive range of support services across the University. You'll have access to a supervisor during the dissertation phase.

Entry requirements

An honours degree (2:2 or above) or equivalent. Please discuss your qualifications with the admissions tutor if you are unsure.

How to apply

Instructions for Home/EU applicants
Mode Duration Start date Application code Application method
3 years
Start date
Application code
Application method

If your course has a January start option, you should apply through UCAS Postgraduate. Postgraduate students and research students applying for September entry should use our dedicated application system. Full details of how to do this are supplied on our How to apply section for postgraduate students and our How to apply section for research students.


Students should apply for accommodation at London South Bank University (LSBU) as soon as possible, once we have made an offer of a place on one of our academic courses. Read more about applying for accommodation at LSBU.


It's a good idea to think about how you'll pay university tuition and maintenance costs while you're still applying for a place to study. Remember – you don't need to wait for a confirmed place on a course to start applying for student finance. Read how to pay your fees as a postgraduate student.

Postgraduate Application Service

Book a session with one of our specialist Postgraduate Advisors. Over a one on one Advice Session they'll advise you on postgraduate degrees at LSBU that match your interests and experience. Book an Advice Session.

Fees and funding

Fees are shown for new entrants to courses, for each individual year of a course, together with the total fee for all the years of a course. Continuing LSBU students should refer to the Finance section of our student portal, MyLSBU. Queries regarding fees should be directed to the Fees and Bursaries Team on: +44 (0)20 7815 6181.

The fee shown is for entry 2018/19.
UK/EU fee: £2500International fee: £4375
AOS/LSBU code: 4426Session code: 1PS00
Total course fee:
UK/EU £7500
International £13125

For more information, including how and when to pay, see our fees and funding section for postgraduate students.

Possible fee changes

The University reserves the right to increase its fees in line with changes to legislation, regulation and any government guidance or decisions.

The fees for international students are reviewed annually and the University reserves the right to increase the tuition fees in line with the RPIX measure of inflation up to 4 per cent.

Postgraduate loan (PGL) for Masters study

If you are starting a Masters course, studying either full- or part-time, you may be entitled to apply for a postgraduate study loan. Find out more at our postgraduate fees and funding section.


We offer several types of fee reduction through our scholarships and bursaries. Find the full list and other useful information on funding your studies on the scholarships and fee discounts page.

Fee status

Please check your fee status and whether you are considered a Home, EU or International student for fee-paying purposes and for our regulatory returns, by reading the UKCISA regulations.


Select a story and read about practical project work, students' placement experiences, research projects, alumni career achievements and what it’s really like to study here from the student perspective.

  • K2 building

    K2 building

    A major feature of our Southwark campus is K2, a new eight-storey building, designed and constructed using the latest in green building technology.

Prepare to start

We help our students prepare for university even before the semester starts. To find out when you should apply for your LSBU accommodation or student finance read How to apply tab for this course.

Enrolment and Induction

Enrolment takes place before you start your course. On completing the process, new students formally join the University. Enrolment consists of two stages: online, and your face-to-face enrolment meeting. The online process is an online data gathering exercise that you will complete yourself, then you will be invited to your face-to-face enrolment meeting.

In September, applicants who have accepted an unconditional offer to study at LSBU will be sent details of induction, which is when they are welcomed to the University and their School. Induction helps you get the best out of your university experience, and makes sure you have all the tools to succeed in your studies.

Read more about Enrolment and Induction.

Suggested reading

  • Goodley, D (2010): Disability Studies: An Interdisciplinary Introduction. London,  Sage
  • Knowles G and Lander V (2011). Diversity, Equality and Achievement in Education. Sage.
  • Hodge, N and Runswick-Cole, K (2013) "They never pass me the ball": exposing ableism through the leisure experiences of disabled children, young people and their families. Children's Geographies 11(3):311–325.
  • Martin, N (2011): The Long View: Disabled children become adults.
  • O'Keefe, J (Ed) 2011 'Towards a Positive Future: stories, ideas and inspiration from children with special educational needs, their families and professionals' 97-100 J & R Press
  • Runswick-Cole, K. and Hodge, N. (2010) Educational Rights:challenging the discourse of special education. British Journal of Special Education, 36 (4) 198–203.
  • Watson, N (2012) Theorising the Lives of Disabled Children: How can Disability Theory Help?, Children & Society, Volume 6, pp.192-206
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Contact information

Course Enquiries - UK

Tel: 0800 923 8888

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