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BA (Hons) Special Educational Needs and Disability Studies

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Three years full-time.

Up to six years part-time.

Typical Offer: 

112 UCAS tariff points (or above),
BBC (A-Level), DMM (BTEC)


If you don’t meet the above entry requirements, we may still be able to consider you. If you’re interested in applying, call our Clearing Hotline to discuss your suitability for study.

  • The BA (Hons) SENDS is a unique, innovative degree programme that offers an in-depth examination of special educational needs and disability studies.
  • The course runs over two full consecutive days, giving you time to work or volunteer as you study. 
  • Invited guest speakers of national and international importance enhance the curriculum enabling you to network with experienced professionals.
  • We are fully committed to enhancing your employability and will help you in building a career supporting disabled children, young people and their families.  
  • This course will open up a range of career opportunities in education, health and social care.


By joining our progressive degree programme you will gain exceptional insight into this new area of study while developing invaluable employability skills.

Together we look at issues relating to disabled children and young people.  This trans-disciplinary course spans across psychology, sociology, education and culture, and reflects the constantly shifting emphasis in the field of Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND).

Underpinned by children's rights, this course drives towards developing integrated and responsive services. In addition to the more traditional use of academic readings and research, we encourage you to use literature, film and current affairs as inspiration your studies, as well as working closely with fellow students.

We have developed great relationships with local stakeholders in both voluntary and statutory sectors. Among others, Thomas Wolsey SchoolRealise Futures CICIpswich Disability Advisory Bureau, Social Care Services, Autism and ADHD and Ipswich Opportunity Group offer our students placement opportunities.

Additionally, you can complement your academic studies through field trips such as our recent visit to Bucharest, Romania. Our students met University of Bucharest undergraduates from the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Science, and to mark World Autism Day they visited an organisation that supports young people with autism. We then returned the hospitality and welcomed students from the University of Bucharest during 2019.

Trip to Bucharest.JPG

Trip to Bucharest

Students on a field trip to Bucharest in April 2017.

Our reputation for high quality education extends from the curriculum content to events such as the Disabled Children’s Research Forum and the Children and Childhoods Conference.

In addition, our teaching team constantly engage in research, updating their knowledge and have recently published a book ‘Dis/abled Childhoods? A transdisciplinary approach’ by international publisher, Palgrave McMillan.

Students are required to undertake suitable work experience in Year 2 of the course and therefore a successful DBS check will need to be evidenced.

Click on the image below to view our SENDs image gallery. 

BA (Hons) Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

Course modules

We use a variety of strategies ranging from pedagogical principles and practices across the modules. As a full-time student you take three modules each during the two twelve week semesters. If you study part time, you study one or two modules per semester. Each module requires at least four to five hours of face to face contact over the 12-week period, with the same amount of needed for independent study.

Full downloadable information regarding all University of Suffolk courses, including Key Facts, Course Aims, Course Structure and Assessment, is available in the Definitive Course Record.

Introduction to Special Educational Needs and Disability Studies (Requisite)

This module identifies a number of current key issues relating to the field of SEND. We introduce students to the idea that provision should ensure all children and young people are offered a range of appropriate, challenging experiences to support individual development to achieve success.

Diversity, Rights and Equality (Requisite)

This module engages in critical and cultural debates relating to the broad topics of diversity, rights and equality and prompts students to consider their impact on the lives of disabled children and young people. It identifies and explores the differing perspectives within diversity, egalitarian and rights theories. The module seeks to provide a base to underpin students’ subsequent study of inequalities, representation, and policy provision in Levels 5 and 6 of the BA SENDS programme.

Introduction to Human Development (Requisite)

Human development is a life-long process involving patterns of change within the biological, physical, socio-emotional and cognitive developmental domains. The process occurs within larger social, educational and cultural contexts, being influenced by them, and influencing them in turn. Complex interactions between genetic, biological and environmental factors can, however, push the developmental trajectory away from what is deemed as typical development, entering thus the realm of atypical development. 

Policy, Provision and the Historical Context (Requisite)

Historically disabled people are argued to have had decisions about their lives made for them by others. Perspectives applied by those in authority have shifted through marginalisation, institutionalisation, and social protection.

Introduction to Academic and Research Skills (Requisite)

This module is designed to provide you with an important set of study skills that are relevant to all modules and will support your academic learning experience. Practical exercises will be used to give you ample opportunities to experiment, practice and reflect on developing important study skills. 

Introduction to Developmental Disabilities (Requisite)

The modern discourse on atypical development goes well beyond a narrow medical or clinical view, to incorporate the complex interactions with the larger contexts of family, society and culture. One major aspect of atypical development is its influence on children’s ability to learn in the typical school context. The term “special educational needs” (SEN) has been introduced and formalized in order to address this.

Theories of Practice (Requisite)

This module raises a developing awareness and understanding of the roles and responsibilities of those who work with disabled children and young people as being crucial for effective collaboration. Whilst acknowledging that multiagency working presents many challenges at both local and national levels, it emphasises the need for professionals to work together to support disabled children, young people and their families. 

Research Methods (Mandatory)

Drawing on the foundations of social science research, this module will explore a range of research methods enabling students to acquire knowledge and understanding of the research process and issues related to undertaking research with disabled children and young people.

Educational Perspectives (Requisite)

This module explores historical and contemporary approaches and perspectives concerning educational provision for children and young people with special needs and disabilities. It identifies core legislation requirements and the frameworks within which educational providers are required to deliver educational provision to meet the needs of children and young people with special educational needs. 

The Individual and Self Identity (Requisite)

This module raises awareness and critical understanding of disabled children and young people and those with Special Educational Needs. The module introduces the psychological concept of a theory of self and highlights how factors of an individual’s self-identity can be impacted by a Special Educational Need or disability. 

Safeguarding (Mandatory)

This module will help you to develop a sound understanding of the inter-professional and inter-agency context. You will engage in critical evaluation of current inter-professional practice including the move towards greater integration and co-location of front line children's services.

Perspectives of Practice (Requisite)

This module follows on from the Theories of Practice module which raises a developing awareness and understanding of the roles and responsibilities of those who work with children and young people with disabilities as being crucial for effective collaboration. Within this module, students will engage with work experience by undertaking a six week placement within the sector during the second semester of the academic year.

Individual Project (Optional)

The primary purpose of this module is to provide students with the opportunity to examine and explore in depth a topic relevant to their studies that is of interest to them. This module is also designed to help students develop autonomy in their learning and will also enable students to demonstrate an ability to evaluate and represent issues and ideas.

Dissertation (Mandatory)

This module builds on previous study undertaken by students at Level 5, and takes as its basis the theoretical knowledge acquired in research methodology, principles, values and process together with skills in the critical evaluation of published research. 

Early Intervention (Requisite)

Allen contends that Early Intervention enables every baby, child and young person to acquire the social and emotional foundations upon which our success as human beings depends (2011: 3). This module is central to supporting children and young people’s wellbeing, and their ability to fulfil their potential.

Embodiment, Identity and Representation (Requisite)

This module aims to respond to critiques that call into question the tendency for society’s role in creating disabling environments and cultures. We place the physical body at the centre of enquiry in explorations of the lived experiences of individuals with disabilities.

Contemporary Issues (Requisite)

Students explore contemporary issues in the lives of disabled children and young people. It covers wide variety of topics dictated to some extent by the very latest academic and current affairs coverage relating to the subject area.

Applied Studies (Requisite)

Students explore in some depth an important book in their field of study with the emphasis on how the book has influenced subsequent research.

Intersectionality and Inequality (Optional)

This module explores global inequalities such as race, gender, class, geography, disability, culture and religion, using the critical social perspective of intersectionality. Such a theoretical stance makes visible the nuances within the different and multiple categories in which children are positioned. This critical theory can be used to highlight tensions which often remain invisible in an homogenised approach to inequality. Intersectionality makes explicit the ways in which children from diverse backgrounds can experience inequality; social, economic and political.

Career opportunities

Our programme is ideal for students who want to progress on to a range of jobs in education, health and social care. You may already be considering options such as the below:

  • Community Education Officer 
  • Children’s Services Manager 
  • Children’s Service Development Adviser 
  • Children’s Centre Coordinator 
  • Children’s Centre Manager 
  • Children’s Policy Adviser 
  • Educational Welfare Adviser 
  • Family Support Worker 
  • Teacher 
  • Youth Justice

If you are considering further study, the course is a pathway to teacher training, family support, social work and nursing. We offer postgraduate study and research opportunities including a Masters in Childhood Studies. Graduates who would like to train as Primary and Secondary teachers can apply to the Suffolk and Norfolk Initial Teaching Training.

What our students say

"As a student with autism, this course has given me the self-confidence to be different but determined to make a difference in society." Euan Low

"This course has renewed my passion for supporting and improving the lives of people living with a disability or special emotional needs. In two years of study, so far it has questioned my beliefs, opened many opportunities, and challenged my individual and academic achievement more than I could have ever imagined." Alexandra Munn

"The course is so inspiring. Having guest speakers allows you to gain greater perspectives of a variety of SEND issues and career prospects. As a group we have a supportive ethos and this translates into your peer support." Sarah Arch

"I have particularly enjoyed learning about a wide range of special educational needs and disability theories. Guest speakers have enhanced the learning experience and group work has helped support understanding and assignment content. The course highlighted alternative areas of interest and potential employment opportunities." Sam Walton

"The course will open your eyes to SENDS and make you think about what difference you can make to SEN children and young adult lives. Tutors are always willing to support you and give guidance in specific areas, a great course if you’re passionate about this subject." Gaby Freedman

Fees and finance


  • Full-time tuition fee: £9,250 p.a.
  • Part-time tuition fee: £1,454 per 20 credits (Please contact the Infozone for further information)
  • International tuition fee: £11,790 p.a.

Further Information                                       

  • Tuition Fees
  • Financial Support 
  • Loans and Grants
  • At University of Suffolk, your tuition fees provide access to all the usual teaching and learning facilities that you would expect. However, there may be additional costs associated with you course that you will need to budget for. 

Entry requirements

If you don’t meet the above entry requirements, we may still be able to consider you. If you’re interested in applying, call our Clearing Hotline to discuss your suitability for study.


Associate Professor in Special Educational Needs and Disability Studies

Associate Professor

Course Leader in MA Childhood Studies and Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies

Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies

Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies

Course Administrator

Facilities and Resources

Your studies will be based mainly in the Waterfront Building located in the heart of the bustling Ipswich Waterfront.

The building has one auditorium which seats 200 people, two main lecture theatres and 34 teaching rooms seating. 

Every teaching room has state-of-the-art AV equipment enhancing students learning experience and spread across the open study areas there are approximately 50 iMacs. The dual function technology allows students to choose between Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac software, allowing students to utilise the technology that best supports their chosen field of study.

Students are able to socialise in the cafe, Cargo Coffee, which looks out onto the Waterfront, where students can enjoy the cosmopolitan mix of arts facilities, cafes, restaurants, public houses and open social space. This space is also home to the Waterfront Gallery, an innovative and exciting exhibition space for the University.

Next to our main reception is the Infozone, which provides current and potential students with easy access to activities and services at the Ipswich Waterfront Building. The Infozone has dedicated members of staff on hand to deal with enquiries, either face-to-face, over the phone or via email. Advisors can provide information to potential students as well as those already studying at the University, offering advice on the courses available and how to apply.



Study in the picturesque surroundings of Ipswich Waterfront.