University of Chester

Programme Specification
Dyslexia Research and Practice MA
2014 - 2015

Master of Arts

Dyslexia Research and Practice

Dyslexia Research and Practice

University of Chester

University of Chester, Faculty of Education and Children's Services

Riverside Campus

Postgraduate (Taught)


Classroom / Laboratory,

4 years

6 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Education & Children's Services Academic and Professional Programmes

National Framework for Higher Education Qualifications

British Dyslexia Association

PG Awards Assessment Board

Monday 1st May 2017

The MA Dyslexia Research and Practice Programme aims to:·         Build practitioners’ “professional expertise in identifying dyslexia and developing effective ways to help learners overcome its effects” (Rose Report, 2009, p.9). ·         Promote scholarship.·         Evidence the synthesis between critical thinking and reflection, relating this to practice. ·         Foster utilization of the literature and relevant research. ·         Develop critical and reflexive practitioners. 

A unique and innovative feature of the MA Dyslexia Research and Practice is that it offers opportunity to students in schools, Further Education, Higher Education and the workplace to achieve academic qualifications (Post Graduate Certificate, Post Graduate Diploma and Master of Arts degree) with a specific dyslexia focus and to differentiate the professional setting: 

·         ATS/APS (for students working in compulsory education).·         ATS/APS FE/HE (for students working in Further Education, Higher Education and the workplace).·         AMBDA (for students working in compulsory education).·         AMBDA FE/HE (for students working in Further Education, Higher Education and the workplace).

Knowledge and Understanding
Knowledge and Understanding

  • Critically engaged with theoretical frameworks and literature;
  • Harnessed insights into subject knowledge;
  • Critically reflect 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
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

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;
  • Application of Number
  • Information Literacy and Technology;
  • Improving own learning and performance;
  • Working with others;
  • Problem solving.

  • Written to academic standards required at Masters level;
  • 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 data bases for research and information;
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
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 Programme leads to a Master of Arts (Dyslexia Research and Practice) degree offered in line with:·         QAA (2001), The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FHEQ) ·         Integrated Qualifications Framework for the Schools Workforce (2010) ·         Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area (FQ-EHEA) (2008).  ·         Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) who approve Approved Teacher Status (ATS), Approved Practitioner Status (APS) and Associate Member of the British Dyslexia Association (AMBDA).   The professional element accredited by the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) means that ATS, APS and AMBDA are accepted qualifications in schools and Further Education (FE) colleges giving teachers the right to assess and make recommendations for provision for external examinations. The MA Dyslexia Research and Practice is composed of structured learning opportunities that are delivered as taught modules and one third of the Programme is devoted to a research project leading to a dissertation (QAA, 2010).  The Programme has Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert) and Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) as exit points that facilitate continuing professional development at different stages of a professional career. Participants may exit with credit for single modules. Modules are at 20 Credit Accumulation Transfer (CAT) points and 10 European Credit Transfer (ECT) points; the dissertation is worth 60 CAT points and 30 ECT points. Students have three years to complete a PG Cert, five years for a PG Dip and six years to complete an MA but experience of other Master’s degrees within the Department indicate that students usually complete the MA within four years. 

Students are expected to attend all taught sessions which also fulfils the requirements of the BDA. This is monitored by the tutor.  Students following the ATS or APS professional pathway are required to attend 40 hours of taught sessions.  Students following the AMBDA professional pathway are required to attend 90 cumulative hours of taught sessions to meet the British Dyslexia Association taught element requirements. Due to special circumstances, students may be unavoidably absent from sessions.  As attendance at all sessions is required to fulfil the requirements of the BDA, students are required to demonstrate that they are able to internalise and could articulate the information in practice from the session they have missed.  In such circumstances, students are able, from the module space on Sharepoint, to read the lecture material and follow any reading independently.  They will then be required to successfully complete a negotiated unaccredited task, for example, make succinct notes on the reading or be able to deliver a short presentation to the group.  These tasks are prepared by the tutor in advance.

Students who have been absent for any part of taught sessions (as they all fulfil the requirements of the BDA), and who fail to complete the required directed task(s) will not be eligible to apply for the respective professional accreditation.The University’s recognises its commitment to fulfil the BDA requirements in relation to its provision for the AMBDA award. It can assure provision for registered students to complete their chosen award through the successful staffing of associate Visiting Lecturers who are qualified to AMBDA level, are experienced practitioners and lecturers and are able to deliver comparable quality of teaching. 

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
CD7208 7 Dissertation 60 Comp
CD7401 7 Identifying and Assessing Learners with Dyslexia 20 Comp
CD7402 7 Learning and Teaching Strategies for Learners with Dyslexia 20 Comp
CD7403 7 Teaching Learners with Dyslexia 20 Comp
CD7404 7 Dyslexia: Wider Issues and Debates 20 Optional
CD7405 7 Dyslexia in Secondary, Further and Higher Education 20 Optional
CD7406 7 The Adult with Dyslexia 20 Optional
CD7407 7 The Ethics and Rationale of Psychometric Assessment 20 Optional
CD7408 7 Psychometric Assessment and Individual Learning 20 Optional
CD7409 7 Evaluation of Psychometric Assessment 20 Optional

Students with Qualified Teacher Status

Year 1

Post Graduate Certificate

60 credits

Approved Teacher Status of the British Dyslexia Association

Option 1

Option 2

Year 2

Post Graduate Diploma


Associate Member of the British Dyslexia Association


Post Graduate Diploma


No professional award

Year 3

Master of Arts


No professional award

Students without Qualified Teacher Status

Year 1

Post Graduate Certificate

60 credits

Approved Practitioner Status of the British Dyslexia Association

Year 2

Post Graduate Diploma


No professional award

Year 3

Master of Arts


No professional award

Credit accumulation (Academic and Professional)

Academic Qualification
Professional Qualification
Identifying and Assessing Dyslexic Learners
PG Cert
Learning and Teaching Strategies for Dyslexic Learners

Teaching Dyslexic Learners

The Ethics and Rationale of Psychometric Assessment
PG Dip
Psychometric Assessment and Individualised Learning

Evaluation of Psychometric Assessment

Dyslexia: Wider Issues and Debates
PG Dip
Dyslexia Beyond the Primary Phase

The Dyslexic Adult

Dissertation (existing modules)

* Modules CD7407, CD7408 and CD7409 are compulsory for students following the AMBDA professional pathway.
Accreditation for Prior Experience and Learning (APEL) / Accreditation for Prior Learning (APL)
Prospective students applying to study for the award of MA Dyslexia Research and Practice may able to be awarded credit for previously accredited HE Level qualifications in other institutions where learning outcomes map closely to those of the MA Dyslexia Research and Practice Programme. The University procedures for Accreditation for Prior Experience and Learning (APEL) / Accreditation for Prior Learning (APL) apply.

  The MA Dyslexia Research and Practice is open to both graduates and non-graduates with professional experience. Graduates will have a background in Special Educational Needs (dyslexia) or a related background acquired through previous study (a Bachelor’s degree). Non-graduates will be admitted to the award-bearing aspects of the Programme by virtue of their professional experience.  They will have a background in Special Educational Needs (dyslexia) or a related background, for example, teaching in a language and communication unit or holding the post of SENCo.  If required, prospective students will attend a compulsory interview with two members of the Faculty (to include the Programme Leader) to ascertain their ability to succeed on the Programme.

 In order to promote competency in the use of English regarding the practical teaching requirements of the Programme, prospective students must demonstrate high standards of literacy, articulacy and the correct use of Standard English. This will be ascertained by the prospective students’ personal statements on application.  Students who fail to demonstrate such competencies will be invited to interview with two members of the Faculty (to include the Programme Leader) to determine their suitability. The needs of the learner will be considered paramount.

Prospective students who intend to hold a Practising Certificate to assess for dyslexia in compulsory education are required to hold Qualified Teacher Status to participate in the three AMBDA award bearing modules CD7407, CD7408 and CD7409 which will comply with the existing admission policy within the Faculty. Non-QTS students may participate in these modules to achieve a PG Diploma but in order to achieve a Practising Certificate, will need to study a further module with the Professional Association Tutors of Students with Specific learning Difficulties (PATOSS). Students must be able to demonstrate on application that they have access to a placement or setting in which they can complete the required assessment with the support of appropriate coaching and mentoring. 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. It is expected that students will already have a current Disclosure and Barring Service Enhanced Disclosure (previously called CRB certificate) or be able to provide one themselves which will be paid for by the student.

The MA Dyslexia Research and Practice Programme operates within the scholarship requirements set by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCL), supporting teachers to deliver national requirements by helping existing teachers in England to develop their skills and help them deepen their knowledge.  Special Educational Needs (dyslexia) is one of the three priority areas identified by the NCL. The national scholarship fund for teachers is administered by the NCL.

There are no QAA benchmark statements for postgraduate study in Education. The MA Dyslexia Research and Practice Programme draws on and extends the QAA (2010) 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 dyslexia and area of professional practice
  • 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 dyslexia
  • Conceptual understanding that enables the student to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship about dyslexia 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.
Holders of the qualification will have the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of initiative and responsibility, decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations and the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development. The MA Dyslexia Research and Practice Programme encompasses the equivalent professional qualifications AMBDA FE/HE and ATS FE/HE for practitioners working with dyslexic learners in Further and Higher Education contexts. The qualification also meets the requirements of the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) who approve Approved Teacher Status (ATS), Approved Practitioner Status (APS) and Associate Member of the British Dyslexia Association (AMBDA). This means that it is an accepted qualification giving teachers the right to assess and make recommendations for provisions for external examinations.


At the heart of all teaching and learning on the MA Dyslexia Research and Practice are the essential skills of critical analysis and reflection, including reflexivity. Students are encouraged to listen and discuss different perspectives and act on the learning to become more effective reflective practitioners who have developed the skills of criticality which has enabled them to identify and address areas for professional and academic development. 

The starting points for learning on the MA Dyslexia research and Practice are the students' experiences and knowledge of teaching dyslexic learners. As effective practitioners working in schools, Further Education, Higher Education and the workplace, the students bring to the Programme many years of teaching experience and high-quality expertise that is highly regarded in their settings.  The Programme's learning and teaching strategies aim to build on this expertise and further draw out students' views and understanding and provide 'safe' opportunities for views and beliefs to be challenged, reviewed and discussed. Learning is further enhanced and progressed with tutors' teaching, experience, knowledge, reading and analysis of national policy shifts and theories and methodologies that are applicable to teaching and learning for dyslexic children, young people and adults which will be drawn from a wide pedagogic framework.


University-based Modules-All modules are taught at the University in technology rich environments that create a flexible approach to learning for pert-time students, or those who live and work at a distance and students with specific needs or disabilities. Giving the students this choice and flexibility throughout the tuition period greatly enhances the learning experience by adapting to the needs of students and helping them to develop their skills.  A range of methodologies is employed which takes account of best practice and maximise active learning, sensitive to the learning styles and needs of students compliant with the Faculty Learning, Teaching and Assessment Policy. As a result, students are active participants in the learning process, through classroom participation and discussion. These methodologies include:

  • Lectures
  • Group work
  • Presentations, discussions, debates
  • Directed tasks
  • Written assignments
  • Independent research
  • Setting-based teaching and learning activities
  • Personal reflexion, contextual reflection
  • Individual or group tutorials
  • Students leading parts of sessions
  • Formative peer assessment
  • Formative self-assessment
  • Use of the University\'s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)
  • Use of VLE to support a dedicated module site offering a range of support materials and specific learning information

·         Blended learning engagement through the VLE –The VLE is an important feature of the teaching and learning strategy. 

o       For students who miss a session, alternative appropriate learning activities will be available and the tutor can engage though discussion boards.  

o       Blended learning will offer an enhancement to face-to-face tutor engagement and offer opportunities for peer learning particularly for overseas students.  

·         Peer Teaching-  Small group work allow the tutors to closely observe teaching technique, answer informal questions and practice in the relaxed atmosphere of shared learning. Peer students gain knowledge and confidence in teaching their emergent skills while at the same time their own competence in performing the selected skills improves. 

·         Skype Tutorial Support – Skype tutorial support is available to students as an alternative to face-to-face where appropriate in order to make personalised provision for individual student needs. This allows for tutorial guidance whereby the student’s  work can be shared with the module tutor. This will benefit oversees students in particular.  

·         Email Tutorial Support–Students are able to contact their module tutor or module supervisor by email whenever they wish. Tutors will endeavour to respond to student queries within 3-5 days but often sooner. Tutorial support includes face-to–face tutorial support meetings and the opportunity for students to engage with online tutorial support. This allows for a tutorial dialogue to continue between module tutors/supervisors and students. It is an important feature of the MA Dyslexia Research and Practice Programme as it enables students to access tutorial support remotely. 

·         Use of the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) supports a dedicated module site offering a range of support materials and specific learning information.   Specific features, for example, Group Discussion and Group Share allow good practice, interesting ideas and recent research and noteworthy news articles to be posted and discussed by tutors and students.  

·         Use of Learning Information Services and Study Skills Service New students are provided with discrete teaching sessions from a librarian from Learning Information Services and an Academic Skills Tutor from Study Skills Service in Student Support and Guidance.  These teaching sessions take place throughout the first year of the Programme and allow students the opportunity for ‘hands-on’ experience of using the library, electronic databases, the APA referencing system and academic writing.  Students can then access these services independently as required. 

Weekend-school Infrastructure- allows a specific internal learning environment to exist where part-time students engage both in the academic rigor of their chosen studies but also with the social aspects of peer learning as part of a new community of practice engaged in Master’s study. Students engage in quality learning experiences and explore shared common practice across other Master’s level programmes with their peers. This learning environment contributes significantly to the student’s identity as a facilitator of new knowledge and understanding, reflective practitioner and lifelong learner. Students have the opportunity to attend induction processes to gain access to Learning Information Services and Student Support and Guidance and to CPD Department academic writing seminars, for example, “Improving Your Academic Performance at Master’s Level”. These teaching and learning experiences are designed as much as possible to reflect dyslexia pedagogy and practice, i.e. participative, empowering, using group work and creative methods of encouraging learning.  


The MA Dyslexia Research and Practice defines assessment as a process that appraises an individual’s knowledge, understanding, abilities or skills.  The Programme assesses not only academic skills but professional skills and competencies, for example, the British Dyslexia Association accredits the ATS and AMBDA awards. The experience of the team will effectively provide summative assessment methods.  Each method of assessment is chosen because of its fitness for purpose, relating to what is being assessed and the context within which assessment is taking place, for example, a psychometric assessment of a learner with dyslexia or matching a teaching intervention to an individual dyslexic learner’s specific needs. The tutor will normally assess the practice elements (teaching and assessing) of the Programme by viewing a DVD recording of the teaching or assessment sessions as part of these assessment methods, not as a separate component and provide written feedback. The methods of assessment reflect forms of recording, reporting and writing which are required of Specialist Teachers and Assessors and fulfils the requirements of the University, British Dyslexia Association assessment requirements and are also congruent with the requirements of the Assessment Practicing Certificate of the SpLD Assessment Standards Committee (SASC).

Students who engage in the MA Dyslexia Research and Practice programme will successfully demonstrate subject-specific attributes and will become reflective practitioners and critical thinkers who can articulate their views with confidence and conviction. They will have in-depth knowledge and understanding of their profession and the political arena of education informed by current practice, scholarship and research. They will have read widely and will have engaged with theoretical frameworks which have challenged their values, beliefs and understanding. They will have become confident researchers, being able to use a range of techniques and research methods finding solutions to challenges in their professional setting and practice. Their professional integrity will have been affirmed demonstrating their ability to use initiative and take responsibility, solving problems in innovative and creative ways.   They will have become sufficiently professionally secure to confront and manage change, make decisions and to lead others, should they choose. Graduates will continue to learn and to demonstrate advanced scholarship in their subject.

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.

All participants in and contributors to the Programme will be encouraged to become involved in the development, management, delivery and evaluation of the effectiveness of the Programme. Students are allocated a Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) who will:

  • Act as the student's contact with the University.
  • Maintain an overview of a student's academic progress.
  • Provide academic advice and guidance to students.
  • Provide specific advice regarding module choice and review academic progress. This can be provided by face-to-face tutorial(s), email tutorial(s) or telephone tutorial(s).
  • Discuss academic strengths and areas which need development based on examples of work.
  • Develop a relationship based on shared knowledge of the student's progress.
  • Assist in completing the e-Portfolio
  • Provide a reference, if required, based on information provided by the student.

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