University of Chester

Programme Specification
Special Educational Needs and Disabilty (SEND) MA
2014 - 2015

Master of Arts

Special Educational Needs and Disabilty (SEND)

Special Educational Needs and Disabilty (SEND)

University of Chester

University of Chester

Riverside Campus, schools and settings

Postgraduate (Taught)


Classroom / Laboratory,

3 years

6 Years

Triannual - January - May - October




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Education & Children's Services Academic and Professional Programmes



MA SEND Programme Module Assessment Board

Sunday 1st June 2014

1. To enhance skills, knowledge and understanding about Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) in a climate of change.

2. To employ a practice-based approach to professional development which will improve outcomes and real-life chances for children, young people and adults with SEN and disabilities in education, training or employment.

3. To add capacity to professional potential in mainstream and special school settings, Further Education (FE), Higher Education (HE) and adult learning environments.

Knowledge and Understanding

  • Critically engaged with theoretical frameworks and literature;
  • Harnessed insights into subject knowledge;
  • Critically reflected on the ways in which research methodology supports professional enquiry;
  • Applied critical considerations when undertaking research;
  • Made effectual use of professional learning to assess impact on practice.

Thinking or Cognitive Skills
  • Made critical use of research evidence;
  • Formulated valid conclusions that link theory to practice;
  • Thought independently about essential issues, concepts and ideas.

Practical Skills
  • Critically reflected upon aspects of professional practice in the light of key theoreticalperspectives;
  • Made effectual use of professional learning to assess impact on practice.

Key Skills
  • Communication
Written to academic standards required atlevel 7;
Engaged in meaningful debate and critical discussion;
Read critically;
Synthesised written and oral information;
Maintained a learning journal where appropriate.
  • Application of Number
Selected and used appropriate research methodology, methods and applications for data handling.
  • Information Literacy and Technology
Used the University's VLE to access information;
Used electronic research skills;
Accessed databases for research and information;
Used the University's e-Portfolio to maintain a professional learning journal where appropriate.

  • Improving own learning and performance
Critically reflected on professional practice;
Developed new pedagogical and leadership skills;
Used initiative and managed own learning;
Made independent use of supervision.

  • Working with others
Engaged in group presentations and disseminations;
Worked with professional colleagues to share ideas, research and good practice.

  • Problem solving
Generated and applied new knowledge;
Analysed complex concepts.

    Transferable Professional Skills
    • The qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring:
    The exercise of initiative and personal responsibility;
    Decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations;
    The independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

    The MA Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) is designed primarily for teachers serving in all types of schools including academies and Free Schools, who have an interest in, or a responsibility for, SEN, as well as those working in special schools and settings including early years.  Its scope also embraces professionals who are working in Further Education (FE), Higher Education (HE) and adult settings with individuals who have special needs or disabilities. It will also be of interest to professionals in Children's Services, Children's Centres and social service provision.

    There are 12 x 20 credit optional modules and a 60 credit dissertation, all at level 7 of the FHEQ. The modules are organised as sets of three, each set following a theme reflecting professional context and individual interests.

    The themes are

    (1) Leadership and Management;

    (2) Learning and Teaching;

    (3) Advanced Practice;

    (4) FE/HE Adult.

    Students can follow themes or take modules in any sequence.  There are no named pathways. Students can take Exit Awards of Postgraduate Certificate SEN Co-ordination; Postgraduate Diploma SEND and MA SEND by accumulating the credit required. The Dissertation is a compulsory module on the MA SEND.

    Theme 1: Leadership and Management with the National Award for SEN Co-ordination.

    Modules 1, 2 & 3

    These modules are embed the learning outcomes for the National Award for Special Educational needs Co-ordination. 

    Module 1: Professional Knowledge and Understanding offers a broad introduction to the theoretical framework for thinking about SEN and Disability including cultural, polital and social perspectives. 

    Module 2: Leading and Managing Provision explores person-centred practice and examines systems and structures which support  strategic and operational provision. 

    Module 3: Developing a Positive Ethos and Culture considers how the voices of children, young people and adults can inform practice and provision and ephasises the need for workign within cultural, social and familial constructs. 

    Theme 2: Learning and Teaching in Mainstream Contexts

    Modules 4, 5 and 6

    These modules are designed to provide participants with an informed understanding of a range of aspects of SEN in order to challenge orthodoxy, strengthen knowledge and deepen conceptual understanding. 

    Module 4, Evaluating Specific Learning Difficulties re-examines Specific Learning Difficulties and considers the required educational response informed by evidence -based practice in neuro science.  

    Module 5 Reimagining Special Educational Needs Beyond Labels offers a space to problematize concepts of SEN and encourages thinking about the individual and his or her experience rather than the label or condition. It updates knowledge to support the construction of a pedagogy free from determinist beliefs about ability and reflects on contemporary approaches including the use of technology enhanced learning to support individual needs.

    Module 6  Emotions and Attachment in Learning Relationships offers an opportunity to look beyond the orthodoxy of a behaviourist response to children, young people and adults who cannot conform and considers theories of behaviour from a pyscho-social perspective. It considers separation and attachment, emotional development and the impact of trauma and neglect.

    Theme 3: Advanced Practice (SLD/PMLD)

    Modules 7, 8 and 9

    These modules will be of interest and relevance to those employed in special schools and settings working with children, young people and adults with severe, profound and/or complex needs. As with all modules, each can be taken as a stand-alone in combination with any others but collectively these three modules provide comprehensive coverage of the advanced and specialist knowledge, skills and understanding.

    Module 7, Advanced Practice in Speech Language and Communication Needs explores language characteristics, learning styles and development of a communication environment and interaction styles and considers key strategies to enhance communication including language learning style, communication system, alternative or additional ways of communicating.

    Module 8 Severe and Profound Cognitive Impairments examines aspects of provision such as curriculum, assessment, pedagogy, resources, therapy, organisation (room management / responsive environment) and multi-professional collaboration. It considers how assistive technologies can enhance communication or mobility.

    Module 9 Complex Behaviour Difficulties: Theory and Practice considers those children, young people and adults who display complex and challenging behaviours through a consideration of the whole-school, the setting or organisational. It evaluates interventions, and takes an overview of well-being and mental health, support beyond the work setting and working with parents and carers.

    Theme 4: Further and Higher Education and Adult Contexts

    Modules 10, 11 and 12

    These modules will be of interest to those working in FE, HE and Adult contexts including those supporting young people and adults in transition to independent living or employment.

    Module 10, Aspects and Impact of Neurodiversity in Education, Training and Employment considers Specific Learning Difficulties from a Post16 perspective and the legislative framework for disability including the nine protected areas of employment.  

    Module 11 Adapting to Specific Needs in Education, Training and Employment examines the ways in which barriers to participation can be removed and offers an opportunity for students to engage with a new theoretical framework through which to respond to disability issues with a considered, legitimate rationale.

    Module 12, Enabling Access to Education, Training and Employment, considers how prevailing negative attitudes to disabled people in training and the workplace create significant barriers to equity, inclusion and participation and challenge concepts of adulthood, independence and human rights.







    Possible Exit Award

    Leadership & Management Modules

    Sept 2014

    1. CD7701 Professional Knowledge and Understanding

    2. CD7702 Leadership and Managing Provision

    3.  CD7703   Developing a Positive Ethos and Culture 

    PG Cert SEND (60 credits)

    Teaching & Learning   Modules

    Sept 2014

    4.   CD7704 Evaluating Specific Learning Difficulties

    5. CD7705 Reimagining Special Educational Needs Beyond Labels


    6.    CD7706  Emotions and Attachment in Learning Relationships


    PG Cert SEND (60 credits)


    PGDip SEND (120 credits)


    Advanced Practice Modules

    Sept 2015

    7. CD7707 Advanced Practice in Speech, Language & Communication Needs


    8. CD7708 Severe and Profound Cognitive Difficulties in Contemporary Practices

    9. CD7709 Complex Behavioural Difficulties: Theory and Practice

    PG Cert SEND (60 credits)


    PGDip SEND (120 credits)


    FE/HE/Adult Modules

    Sept 2015

    10. CD7710 Aspects and Impact of Neurodiversity in Education, Training and Employment


    11. CD7711 Adapting to Specific Needs in Education, Training and Employment

    12. CD7712 Enabling Access to Education, Training and Employment 

    PG Cert SEND (60 credits)


    PGDip SEND (120 credits)



    Sept 2014

    13.  CD7713 Dissertation Compulsory for the award of MA

    MA SEND (180 credits credits)


    * - Any 3 modules lead to a PG Cert SEND

    - Any 6 modules lead to a PG Dip SEND

    Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
    CD7701 7 Professional Knowledge and Understanding 20 Optional
    CD7702 7 Leading and Managing Provision 20 Optional
    CD7703 7 Developing a Positive Ethos and Culture 20 Optional
    CD7704 7 Evaluating Specific Learning Difficulties 20 Optional
    CD7705 7 Reimagining Special Educational Needs Beyond Labels 20 Optional
    CD7706 7 Emotions and Attachment in Learning Relationships 20 Optional
    CD7707 7 Advanced Practice in Speech, Language & Communication Needs 20 Optional
    CD7708 7 Severe and Profound Cognitive Difficulties in Contemporary Practice 20 Optional
    CD7709 7 Complex Behavioural Difficulties: Theory and Practice 20 Optional
    CD7710 7 Aspects and Impact of Neurodiversity in Education, Training and Employment 20 Optional
    CD7711 7 Adapting to Specific Needs in Education, Training and Employment 20 Optional
    CD7712 7 Enabling Access to Education, Training and Employment 20 Optional
    CD7713 7 Dissertation 60 Comp

    Target Awards, Exit Awards and Credits:
    MA Special Educational Needs and Disability(SEND)
    180 Credits at Level 7 of which there is a 60 Credit Dissertation [Compulsory]
    Postgraduate Diploma Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)
    120 Credits at Level 7
    Postgraduate Certificate Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)
    60 Credits at Level 7
    60 Credits at Level 7
    Please note, students who also want to achieve or exit with a Postgraduate Certificate National Award in SEN Co-ordination, must transfer to Postgraduate Certificate National Award in SEN Co-ordination and complete the Assessment against SENCo Requirements Report (Appendix D)
    Permitted APEL Credit
    For the MA (SEND)
    6 modules of APL are allowed to a total of 120 credits (APL is not permitted for Dissertation)
    For the Postgraduate Diploma (SEND)
    4 modules of APL are allowed to a total of 80 credits
    For the Postgraduate Certificate (SEND)
    2 module of APL is allowed to a total of 40 credits

    The MA Special Educational Needs and Disability is open to both graduates and non-graduates who can demonstrate professional experience although applicants will normally be graduates. Non-graduates will be invited for interview. Applicants will normally be working in, or aspiring to, a leadership role in an SEN context or, wishing to acquire specialist knowledge and skills. It is possible for applicants who are not in work to undertake the programme through a combination of university-based taught modules.

    International students will need to evidence a recent IELTS score of no less than 6.5, with a writing score of no less than 6, and will be invited to interview. English as a Second or Other Language students who are resident in the UK will be invited to interview and asked to present evidence of their qualifications in English. At interview, International and ESOL students will have the opportunity to demonstrate their effective speaking and listening skills.

    There are no QAA benchmark statements for postgraduate study specific to Education. The MA SEND draws on and extends the QAA (2011) Master's degree characteristics at Level 7 assuring the achievements represented by the qualification are appropriate and represented consistently.

    Master's degrees are awarded to students who have demonstrated:  

     A systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of research around educational leadership.

     A comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship.

     Originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge about leadership.

     Conceptual understanding that enables the student to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship about leadership and to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

    Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

     Deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, making sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences.

     Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional level.

     Continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level.

    The MA SEND aims to develop an individual's professional knowledge, skills and understanding in relation to special education in their current context by building on the significant experience and expertise which they will bring with them to the course.

    At the heart of all teaching and learning on the MA SEND are the essential skills of critical analysis and reflection. The Programme's learning and teaching strategies aim to enable students to draw on the knowledge and experience they gain in the context of their own professional environment in order to draw out the learning and to help them to link this to theory, research and policy. In doing so, a reflective and critical approach to professional issues and concerns is fostered. To do this, tutors will provide 'safe' opportunities for views and beliefs to be discussed and challenged and for both understanding and insight to be achieved.

    Approaches used on the programme are informed by accepted adult learning principles and learning and teaching methods are designed to engage self-directed learners in utilising previous and current experience to address real-life issues and approaches to problem solving in their own workplace. This approach is characterised by reflective, active learning, participative groupwork and creative methods of encouraging learning, together with the setting of tasks that are relevant to the individual student's needs. A range of methodologies is employed which takes account of best practice and is compliant with the Faculty's Pedagogical Position Statement (2012).

    These methods include:

     Lectures

     Group work

     Presentations, discussions, debates

     Directed tasks

     Written assignments

     Independent research

     Setting-based teaching and learning activities

     Personal contextualised reflection

     Individual or group tutorials

     Students leading parts of sessions

     Formative self- and peer assessment

     Use of the University 's Moodle Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) including dedicated module sites providing a range of specific materials to support learning.

    Blended learning

    Learning undertaken at the University is in a technology-rich environment that creates a flexible approach to learning for part-time students.

    We will maximise the advantages of module learning spaces for group and individual online activity linked to learning tasks. Reflection and online aspects of teaching, learning and assessment will increase in line with the advancement of the University's VLE. We are committed to offering a range of teaching and learning experiences and will continue to accommodate face-to-face interaction, peer learning and group work.


    The Faculty of Education and Children's Services is committed to principles of assessment set out in the Handbook of Requirements Governing the Assessment of Students.

    Assessment of Prior Learning

    Students may apply for credit as a result of undertaking  programmes in other Universities and also for work-based experience.

    In all cases of claims for credit, evidence must be provided to demonstrate that the learning for which a student claims credit has been appropriately audited and attested. Credit for prior learning can be claimed where this learning is appropriate to the MA Special Educational Needs and Disability programme, which will be governed by the University's Principles and Regulations Governing the Assessment of Students.

    In assessing AP(E)L at Level 7,  submissions will be awarded credit when they:

    • Clearly identify, evidence and critically reflect on key areas of learning.
    • Critically examine and analyse how the learning has been informed by wider theory and/or practice, for example with reference to chosen theoretical perspectives, peer reviewed sources of opinion, external information or review.
    • Demonstrate original/innovative thinking or ways of working in relation to current best practice.


    In keeping with the University's commitment to assessments at postgraduate level reflecting autonomous and student-centred learning and taking account of the University's technology- rich environment,  the Programme offers a palette of assessment opportunities which  offer more innovate possibilities for Masters level assessment.

    Assessment Methods

    Assessment tasks on the MA Special Educational Needs and Disabilities are based on an ‘assessment palette' of five assessment methods. Each will comprise one component. Elements are described in the module descriptors.

    Assessment methods A-E

    Assessment task A

    An Essay (100%)

    Assessment task B

    A Small-Scale Practitioner Enquiry (100%)

    Assessment task C

    An Analytical Case Study (100%)

    Assessment task D 

    A Dissertation (100%)

    Assessment task E

    Element   1    A Professional Portfolio

    Element   2    A Critical Commentary (100% combined)

    Where an overall grade of 40% has not been achieved the original assessment task will be resubmitted using the same title and re-assessment will focus on the failed learning outcomes.

    Holders of the qualification will have the qualities and transferable skills necessary for leading special educational provision in educational and other settings requiring the exercise of initiative and responsibility and decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations. They will work from a value system that respects individual differences in children and young people and has an empathetic understanding of family and cultural diversity.

    Students will be knowledgeable, reflective professionals with a commitment to their own continuing professional development and that of others.

    The University of Chester is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

    The first three modules of the Programme embed the learning outcomes of the National Award for SEN Co-ordination.

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