Why study this course

With this top up degree, you can fit your study around your work and other commitments by studying online

Explore the different ways you can support the children you work with by developing your understanding of learning needs and barriers

Study topics that are most relevant to your own setting by selecting from options in some modules and by designing research for your own setting

Even though you study online, you will not be alone - we offer regular individual tutorials and email support, and you will have access to BGU's support services

Course summary

The BA (Hons) Professional Practice in Special Education Needs and Disability is a distance learning programme delivered online, and is an ideal top up degree if you are a graduate of an FdA Professional Practice in Special Educational Needs and Disability (or similar award), and have current and relevant experience of working within the sector. The course will equip you with a critical understanding of sociological, psychological and philosophical values that shape Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND).

Key facts


BA (Hons)

UCAS code



1 or 2 years

Mode of study


Start date


Awarding institution

Bishop Grosseteste University

Institution code


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About this course

This course explores policy and practice in SEND, in different educational, cultural and social settings. It promotes your appreciation of the need for inclusive, relevant and ever-changing teaching strategies to meet diverse learning needs.

On the BA (Hons) Professional Practice in Special Education Needs and Disability will challenge you to consider interpretations and responses to needs in practice, seeking solutions and opportunities to advocate for change. You will develop knowledge and understanding of different needs and acquire skills in meeting these, through examining theory and engaging in research. Typical entrants to the course will be working practitioners within the sector.

What you will study

Students on this course currently study some or all of the following modules:

The syllabus includes an introduction to, and critical analysis of, contemporary issues in SEND/inclusion and how they impact on the individual and their learning environment. This module is dynamic in the sense that themes will be contemporary and develop from year to year. Examples of issues may be the contested concept of disability (considering scholars such as Allan, Norwich and Tomlinson) as a social construct and how this relates to current initiatives. The module seeks to develop understanding of the principal reasons that create challenge and concern in meeting needs and lead to individuals becoming disengaged from education. Students are expected to engage in determining the module content, sourcing relevant reading and leading discussion. Use of data, local, national and international will be analysed to support or contest issues discussed.
This module introduces a range of learning difficulties and complex needs, which can affect behaviour and learning. Students have opportunities to explore and develop knowledge and understanding of specific strategies aimed at supporting individuals with complex needs. The module explores different syndromes and offers an insight into the nature, aetiology and extent of various types of disabilities and learning difficulties. Students will also explore impacts of complex needs at different stages of learning and development. Students are encouraged to demonstrate critical knowledge, and understanding of the individual needs, reflect on practice, comparing professional contexts, international research and practice.
This module introduces students to critical evaluate issues associated with leadership and management of policy and practice in SEND communities. The syllabus includes principles of multi-agency collaboration with an emphasis upon the roles and responsibilities of professionals in schools and other settings (e.g. headteacher, SENDCO, class teacher, special needs support assistants). Consideration is given to the role of the SENDCO, the National Standards for SENDCOs and implementation of the Special Needs Code of Practice (2015). The cultural, contextual nature of being a leader and the importance of inter and intrapersonal skills in creating change are discussed. Consideration is given to emotional literacy as both leader and follower and how this is enacted at different levels across society. By the end of the module, students will reflect on their own abilities to support and/or drive organisational change and policy implementation at a level appropriate for those completing an undergraduate degree programme.
Students will devise and undertake a substantial independent study on a subject of interest to them, and apply their developing research skills to define, investigate and answer a specific research problem within Special Educational Needs and Disability. Students will practise and develop their research skills, applying them in an independent manner, and in line with ethical research practice. Differentiated support will be offered as appropriate to students’ existing competence and confidence in research. This module will deepen and refine students’ knowledge of their specialist area within the field of SEND and offer insights into undertaking and completing extended analytical written work, exploring ways in which arguments are mediated in them.

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to have a Foundation Degree or equivalent (L5 qualification of 240 credits, with no fewer than 120 credits at L5) in Special Educational Needs/Disabilities or a cognate subject.

Typically, applicants will evidence at least two years’ professional practice supporting children, young people or adults with special educational needs/disabilities in a relevant, professional work setting. A minimum of one year is required for entrance to this programme.

Applicants are expected to have ongoing access to a relevant work setting for at least 360 hours for the duration of the programme (average 12 hours a week).

Additionally, applicants are expected to have written support from the work setting.

This is a distance-learning programme, which requires students to have access to and confidence in using a compatible, internet enabled device. Further advice is available from the University’s Centre for Enhancement in Learning and Teaching (CELT).

Applicants with alternative qualifications can contact our Enquiries team for advice as BGU is committed to widening access and participation and adheres to a strict policy of non-discrimination.

In accordance with University conditions, students are entitled to apply for Accredited Prior Learning, AP(C)L, based on relevant credit at another HE institution or credit Awarded for Experiential Learning, (AP(E)L).

How you will be taught

The programme is offered through distance-learning, thus enabling you to participate alongside your regular, ongoing employment in the sector. As a distance learner you will take greater ownership of your study, being responsible for your learning as an independent and self-directed student.

The modular structure and varied design of the course supports you in accessing, utilising and becoming confident with online study materials. It is anticipated that you will spend at least 6 hours per week engaging in learning activities. You will be supported through online contact with tutors at BGU and will have access to BGU’s wider services such as digital learning development, electronic resources and online study skills materials.

As access to our Virtual Learning Environment and other learning tools is via a modern web browser such as Firefox or Chrome, you will require access to a computer with reliable internet connectivity. It is also recommended to have access to an office productivity package (such as Microsoft Office) and the ability to read and create PDF files. You will be entitled to a free copy of the Microsoft Office suite for the duration of your studies.

Academic staff


Each assessment task on this course promotes deep engagement with the subject and, in particular, the interplay between theory and practice. The assessment methods take account of needs of distance learners, maximising access to available resources through the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and associated applications. You will have opportunities to use multi-media alongside more orthodox techniques of written assignment, portfolio and project reports, also achievable online.

Careers & Further study

This course has been developed in consultation with teachers and head teachers, reflecting developments in practice and changing employment patterns within the sector. Graduating students of our existing SEND courses have gone on to Initial Teacher Training and/or continued in higher education. In addition to careers in education and ultimately special educational needs, graduates in this particular subject are also well-placed to develop careers in research-based settings, local authority provision, private sector educational providers, social care settings or within the voluntary sector.

What Our Students Say

Discover what life is like at Bishop Grosseteste University from our students.


Studying at BGU is a student-centred experience. Staff and students work together in a friendly and supportive atmosphere as part of an intimate campus community. You will know every member of staff personally and feel confident approaching them for help and advice, and staff members will recognise you, not just by sight, but as an individual with unique talents and interests.

We will be there to support you, personally and academically, from induction to graduation.

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Undergraduate course applicants must apply via UCAS using the relevant UCAS code. For 2024 entry, the application fee is £27, and you can make a maximum of 6 choices.

For the 2025 cycle, UCAS is removing the undergraduate application fee for any student who is/or has received free school meals (FSM) during the last six years, up until the end of their final year at school or college. More information on the UCAS fee waiver can be found here.

For all applicants, there are full instructions at UCAS to make it as easy as possible for you to fill in your online application, plus help text where appropriate.