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MA Disability and Special Education

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  • Entry requirements
    a good honours degree in a social science discipline.
  • Course description

    If you are working, or planning a career, in Special Education
    • And wish to bridge the gap between your understanding of theory and practice…

    If you are a service provider, practitioner or policy maker for disabled children and students
    • And want to update your knowledge of the legislative framework, and review current concepts of special educational need…

    … then the MA in Disability Studies and Special Education is the programme for you.

    MA in Disability Studies and Special Education gives you the unique opportunity to study the various theories and research methodologies available to scholars and professionals working, or planning a career, in education and related services.

    The programme introduces you to a range of epistemological positions, theoretical perspectives and research tools, and considers competing views on educational policy and practice for disabled children and students.

    The MA provides a general overview that forms a firm foundation upon which you can consider and critically analyse specific disability and education issues within the context of educational policy, practice and research.

    The course highlights particular topics so you construct an understanding of key conceptual issues, and current developments in mainstream and special educations systems.

    The course also places particular emphasis on the recent trend towards mainstreaming and 'inclusion' within schools and colleges of further and higher education at the local, national and international levels and their implications for professionals and practitioners.

    The MA in Disability Studies and Special Education draws on the expertise of scholars and researchers based in the internationally renowned Centre for Disability Studies in the School of Sociology and Social Policy, and the School of Education.


    MA Disability and Special Education is available on a 12-month full-time or 24-month part-time basis. The course has five modules: two compulsory, three elective.

    Compulsory Modules

    Debates on Disability Theory and Research gives you the opportunity to critically evaluate recent debates and developments within social research on disability. Not only will you discuss positivist, interpretative and 'emancipatory' methodologies, alongside associated data collection and analytical strategies, you will also examine their significance for disability research.

    Through the module, you will investigate theoretical perspectives, the various definitions and approaches to impairment and disability, and disability as an equal opportunities and policy issue. You will explore the impact of myths and prejudices, industrialisation and the welfare state upon cultural representations of disability.

    Disability and Special Education Dissertation allows you to tailor your own programme of training and research in consultation with a member of staff drawn from the department's MA/PhD supervisory panel. Through the dissertation, you demonstrate your ability to develop and complete an in-depth analysis, select and use appropriate research methods, deploy advanced theoretical concepts and relate a focused study to broader Disability and Special Education debates and concerns.

    Elective Modules 

    In addition to the compulsory modules, you also choose one modules from the following list.
    • SEN: Principles and Practice
    • SEN: International Perspective

    Finally, you choose two more modules from this list to complete your programme.
    • Fundamental Issues in Sociological Research
    • Research Strategy and Design
    • Social Policy, Politics and Disabled People
    • Life Long Learning and the Professions
    • Gender and Lifelong Learning
    • Teaching Children with Learning Difficulties
    • Disability and Development
    • Evaluation Research
    • Negotiated Study in Disability Studies

    For more information about both the compulsory and elective modules, please consult the module catalogue .

    Postgraduate Diploma in Disability and Special Education
    Available on a 12-month full-time or 24-month part-time basis, the Postgraduate Diploma in Sociology covers similar ground to the MA, but does not include the dissertation module. On the basis of a good performance in a full-time student's first semester, or a part-timer's first year, students initially registered for the Diploma may be transferred onto the corresponding MA. 

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