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Introducing... MA SEND

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The latest additions to our postgraduate Education courses at Sunderland are the MA Special Educational Needs, Disability and Inclusion (SEND) and the distance learning version of the course. We’ve created these programmes to meet the growing demand for SEND courses, ensuring that they're directly relevant to teachers and educational professionals from a wide range of backgrounds who would like to progress their careers in SEND education. Find out all you need to know about the courses, our teaching team, and how these degrees can enhance your employability.

A teacher helping a child in a classroom

Who are the MA SEND degrees suitable for?

These postgraduate SEND education courses are primarily aimed at those who already have some experience of working in education, for example, teachers and other educational professionals who want to develop their careers through a clear progression route. One of the key benefits of the degrees is that we’ve embedded flexible teaching and learning at the heart of them, to ensure that they're accessible to professionals who are currently in work.

The on-campus version of the MA SEND is offered either full-time over one year or part-time over two years, meaning you can choose the length and mode of study which is most appropriate to you and your circumstances. The MA SEND (DL) is studied part-time over two years and you can study from anywhere in the world with good internet access. There are many advantages to studying a distance learning course as there will never be a need for you to come into university with all of the teaching and course materials delivered online.

What skills and knowledge will I gain from studying for an MA SEND?

The MA SEND degrees will allow you to carry out research specific to your own workplace and building on your educational research skills will form a significant part of the courses. You'll also improve your skills in critical thinking and explore the importance of this within the broader context of education.

We’ve introduced an exciting selection of optional modules for you to choose from so that you can tailor the courses to your own interests within Special Education. These modules include topics such as inclusive education, gender and diversity, supporting mental health needs, and barriers to learning for SEND pupils.

The skills and knowledge you’ll develop studying for the MA SEND or MA SEND (DL) will also be transferable to many other sectors, ensuring you graduate with a highly valued postgraduate degree.

“We had noticed a growing demand for SEND-focused modules across our postgraduate provision of education courses and the MA SEND course has been built specifically to meet this demand. Our students are at the heart of the course structure and materials we have designed, and we've consulted with them to determine what they want a SEND qualification to look like, using their responses to make the course as relevant and forward-thinking as possible. The most attractive thing about the MA SEND degree is its flexibility; students will have the ability to make the programme their own and graduate as a specialist in navigating the complex debates in special educational needs, disability, and inclusion. This course suits educationalists with a range of professional experiences – it's ideally suited to teachers but is equally relevant to those working in the wider education sector across a range of contexts.”

Dr Helen Benstead
MA SEND Programme Leader

Teaching and learning on the MA SEND courses

The academic team who teach on the MA SEND courses all have extensive experience in areas related to SEND education and are incredibly passionate when it comes to teaching their subject. Our team also have varied research interests, meaning they will be able to support your research studies in a rich diversity of areas depending on your individual preference.

The on-campus course will be taught via a combination of online learning, dedicated one-on-one support, and the potential for on-campus teaching in the evening. Your progress will be assessed with written assignments, including an MA Thesis or Practice-Based Enquiry Project where you will put your research skills to the test.

The distance learning version of the MA SEND will be delivered entirely online and assessment will involve written assignments and oral and written presentations. Although you won't meet the teaching staff or the rest of your cohort face to face, you'll still have plenty of opportunities to interact with your fellow students and receive ongoing support from your Personal Academic Tutor.

How will having an MA SEND qualification help my career?

There are so many reasons to consider working in SEND, and these qualifications can significantly enhance your job prospects within the field. As the SEND courses are suitable for teachers and professionals in a variety of educational settings, when you graduate, the qualifications will allow you to develop within your current role or even explore new roles within other sectors like the government or education policy.

You will leave the University with an in-depth understanding of the most important issues in SEND education and feel empowered with the knowledge to be able to foster an inclusive and supportive environment for all pupils.


If you want to learn more about our MA SEND courses, head to the course pages, where you can read about our fantastic modules in more detail and find out how to apply. Our postgraduate courses in Education also include three other highly successful and well-established programmes – the on-campus MA Education, the distance learning version of the MA Education and the MA International Education, which is also a distance learning course. Come and join us for an Open Day or explore our University virtually.

Published: 24 November 2022