Course description

Top 20 for Education *
*The Guardian University Guide 2019

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.

  • Education at Derby has been ranked in the Top 20 in the Guardian League Table 2019
  • Prepare for roles where you can make a genuine difference – from family liaison and inclusion support to teaching assistance and mentoring
  • Build an in-depth understanding of the theories, factors and contexts for special educational needs and disability (SEND)
  • Undertake work placements to develop your practical, professional and intellectual skills
  • Learn from experts in the fields of education, health, psychology and social work to gain real insights into professional life
  • Gain an international perspective, with the opportunity to spend time studying abroad through the Go Places, Go Further scheme
  • Chart your future direction at a university with a strong track record for employability: 96% of Derby graduates were in work or further study within six months of completing a full-time degree
  • If you already have a Foundation degree then and wish to top it up to a full BA (Hons) then you can do so by applying directly to the university
  • If you complete this course and meet the entry requirements for our PGCE Primary, we will guarantee you an interview - see below for full detail

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 a 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 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 the 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:

  • There are a limited number of places on the PGCE Primary. Once the course is full, applications will close and no further interviews will be held
  • Interviews are guaranteed for students who meet the entry requirements for the PGCE Primary, including GCSE grades, degree classification, experience and successful completion of the Skills Tests
  • An interview does not guarantee an offer to study on the course

What you will study

You'll study modules such as:

Stage one

  • Learning in HE
  • SEND and Inclusion
  • Critical and Global Perspectives
  • Issues and Debates into the Aetiology of SEND
  • Social, Behavioural and Emotional Development
  • Historical Development of SEND

Stage two

  • Practitioner Inquiry
  • Research Methods
  • Professionalism in SEND
  • Cognitive and Language Development
  • Specific Learning Difficulties
  • Ethical Practice and Safeguarding

Stage three

  • Educational Independent Study
  • SEND in Context

Optional modules:

  • Attention disorders (ADD, ADHD)
  • Language, Literacies and Dyslexia
  • Autism (Children)
  • Autism (Adults)
  • Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties
  • Cognitive Diversity (dyscalculia, cognitive disability)
  • Physical Diversity (physical impairment)
  • Diversity in Communication, Speech and Language Development
  • Diversity in Social, Emotional and Behavioural Development
  • Educational Independent Study
  • SEND in Context

Optional modules:

  • Attention disorders (ADD, ADHD)
  • Language, Literacies and Dyslexia
  • Autism (Children)
  • Autism (Adults)
  • Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties
  • Cognitive Diversity (dyscalculia, cognitive disability)
  • Physical Diversity (physical impairment)
  • Diversity in Communication, Speech and Language Development

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.

Entry requirements

September 2019 typical entry requirements

UCAS points 112 (up to 16 from AS-levels)
Specific requirements at A-level

No specific subject requirements

Specific requirements at GCSE GCSE Maths and English Grade C/Grade 4 (or above) or equivalent qualification
IELTS 6.0 (with 5.5 in each skills area)
Interview / Audition N/A
Portfolio N/A


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).

Program taught in:
  • English (US)
University of Derby

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Last updated September 2, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
3 - 6 years
13,250 GBP
UK/EU fee: £9,250 per year | International fee: £13,250 per year
By locations
By date
Start Date
End Date
Aug 2022
Application deadline
Application deadline
End Date
Aug 2022

BA (Hons) in Special Educational Needs and Disability