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BA (Hons) Special Educational Needs & Disability Studies

Develop a practical understanding of special educational needs and disability.

Gain real-world experience on work placements; option to work abroad in the second year.

2020 entry requirements

Three A-levels at grades CCD or above.

Or BTEC triple grades MMP or above.

Or Access 3-36 D/M with min 3D.

And GCSE English Language at grade 4 or grade C or above.

DBS clearance required.

UCAS points 88

UCAS code X360

Duration 3 years full-time

How to apply for this course

Course Summary

This is the perfect degree for those who have an interest in Special Educational Needs and Disability and would like to work with children, young people and/or adults who have special educational needs or are disabled, and their families and carers. The course has been designed by both academics and professionals working in disability and Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) contexts.

Our BA (Hons) Special Educational Needs and Disability Studies enables you to recognise the key elements of exclusion in society and provides you with the tools to challenge this. You'll explore a number of theories and models regarding disability which will give you the confidence and the knowledge to work towards a more inclusive society.

You will experience placements alongside taught modules, enabling theory to be put into practice. Sessions are delivered by professional practitioners to ensure that the degree remains up-to-date and relevant, as well as inspiring our students around potential careers and future research. We'll encourage you to explore disability policy and practice with critical reflection and curiosity.


Show video transcript

Jonathan: In the first year, we give more of a kind of introduction to disability studies, and that is kind of good and fits with the placement aspects of the course because it gives you the theoretical grounding on which to act with confidence in a workplace when it comes to placement times. So the kind of blend between practical and theoretical learning is a real strength of the course.

Ruby: I've known that I've always wanted to work with like children or adults with special needs, especially because I've had like personal experience with it from home. And so I saw this course available and thought that, that's what I wanted to do and I liked how it was at a small uni, which meant I could get support if I needed it. I really enjoyed doing placement in second year and first year because that sort of proved what areas I want to go into, and the modules that are focused more on disability I really enjoyed as well.

Jonathan's a lecture that has come in this year, and he's had experience with disability himself in his personal life, so he can bring to us the personal experiences as well as like the wider society views and stuff on disability, and gives us that view.

Stephaine: So I'm a children's practitioner with the London Borough of Sutton. I work in the Social Services Children Disabilities Team, and part of that is I manage cases where disabled children have short breaks, whether that's overnights or support workers, and I kind of manage that and make sure the family are getting the support they need and are okay. So my time at Marjon was fantastic. The lectures were phenomenal. Any questions I had, they went above and beyond and answered the questions even more thoroughly that I ever expected. Hear the lectures in my ear kind of saying, "No you should do this," and "This is what the family need." And so it really prepared me more than I could ever imagined.

Why this course at Marjon?

Learn about the ways disabled people are excluded from everyday life and how to recognise this.

Student-led learning in small groups.

Wide range of partnerships and work placements, for example working with children going through grief, SENCOs, or adults with learning disabilities.

Study inclusion and integration from different standpoints, for example sociological vs educational, or medical vs social models of disability.

Teaching is research informed so we deliver cutting edge knowledge.

Focus on a topic of interest to you in the field of special educational needs and disability studies.

Students say...

Lynn Stewart

“I enjoy the inclusivity of the course and the friendships. I feel accepted and welcome and my confidence has improved. All the staff and students are very supportive. The course has helped me to believe in myself and know that I can achieve and complete the things I start as a student with complex disabilities.”

Christopher Nicholls

“I enjoy the wide areas of study and the course leader, Jonathan, is a great lecturer and tutor. The Student Support team have been amazing with helping me and exploring why I’ve struggled with education in the past. There is a great variety of people on this course and as a mature student this has helped me to integrate into university life.”

Janine Bunker

"I was a nursery manager and the course has helped me to develop myself, to research and I’ve learnt the skills to become a lifelong learner. I wasn’t thinking about teaching when I started but I’ve seen alternative roles in Education and now I want to be a teacher. I’m also really passionate about Outdoor Learning but I wasn't 'outdoorsy' at all when I started. I’ve made lovely friends and there is on-campus nursery which my daughter goes to, it fits in with my life."

This course is perfect if you're curious about

How can I support a child's wellbeing?

How does the Paralympics help or hinder the disability movement?

How should advertising, film or TV reflect or incorporate disability?

What can I do to support parents?

How does changing government policy impact on disabled people’s everyday life?

Do schools cause mental health problems or support them?

“This level of shaping by both professional practitioners and service users should make this programme stand out from the crowd and encourage students to consider it in terms of a number of diverse and interesting career paths.” (Educational Psychologist).

What might you become?

Work in charities, healthcare and education settings; promoting equality and access; managing a care service. Many of our SEN graduates have continued in higher education commencing teacher training, training to become a social worker, a speech and language therapist and into other health professions.

The programme also prepares students for a route into teaching via PGCE and Schools Direct in mainstream and/or special schools and other educational settings or for other postgraduate training courses.


Stephanie Hole

“It was amazing, all of the lecturers were great and any questions I had they would answer above and beyond what I would expect. They taught me so much about disability and attitudes towards disability. It really influences everything I do in my job especially with ideas around dignity and disabled people. We can be doing more, that’s what the course really opened up for me and it prepared me with lenses on life to really do that properly.”

Stephanie is a Children's Practitioner for a Children with Disabilities team.

Modules for this course

Course Snapshot

"In our first year we did a lot of work on wellbeing and health, with a particular focus on mental health. We also touched on psychology and the way people learn. Now we’re learning social theories and how society thinks about different disabilities and their needs. In the third year we’ll do our dissertations and pick our focus based on where we want to go after the degree. Throughout the course there are opportunities for work placements to gain practical skills."
Molly - Second year, BA (Hons) Special Education Needs & Disability Studies


1st Year

Engaging with Learning
A module which teaches you the skills for learning and research in higher education, from finding journal articles and referencing to producing leaflets and engaging presentations.
Creative approaches to Inclusion and Learning
You will be introduced to some of the foundational and ever-mobile concepts of creative and inclusive practice and you will be supported to apply these concepts in hands on activities. This module helps you grapple with the core perspectives of creative and inclusive practice and encourages you to think about how you might apply these ideas to working with children or adults.
Introduction to Disability Studies
An introduction including different models of disability studies, to different practices, to how policy affects disabled people.
Health and Wellbeing
You’ll investigate factors which impact on wellbeing; ill-health, stress & loss, alongside how illness & disability are displayed in the media. For the assessment you will create an information leaflet for someone with a mental health problem.
SEN Concepts and Contexts
In this module you will explore the question ‘what is SEN?’. You will explore how a seemingly simple concept can have a multitude of different meanings.

2nd Year

Comparative and International Perspectives in SEN and Disability
Your opportunity to compare and contrast disability policy and practice across our globe.
Disability and Social Theory
This module focusses on policy, you will be encouraged to discuss questions such as "what drives policy?" and "what is good practice?".
Developing inclusive education
Understand what inclusive practice means, and question 'does education discriminate?'.
Research Methods
A focus on how to do research, from development of a question, through ethical considerations to how you might do your own research, whether this is library based or by data collection.
Interprofessional practice: safeguarding
Learn how different services and professionals work together to safeguard the vulnerable.
Your time to put theory into practice, a self selected placement to meet your career aspirations.

3rd Year

Your time to shine, with support from the team, you design, complete and write up your own piece of research on the topic of your choosing.
Critical Issues in Disability and Care
A critical view on disability and care, social inclusion, citizenship and identity.
Professional contexts: the role of practitioners
Meet a number of practitioners who will explore their jobs with you, offering insight into their careers, provide opportunities to put theory into practice and encourage your own career aspirations.
Understanding and managing specific learning disabilities
This module looks at SEND in childhood and early adulthood applied to the practice of education. You will learn about assessment, management and integration within education in relation to SEND.
Mental health, lifelong conditions and young people
Childhood mental health is a topic of increasing concern in our society, in this module you will look at how we support children and young people with MH concerns, how to manage and work with young people with specific diagnostic labels, and how to support resilience and wellbeing.

Fees and funding

Fees UK students: £9,250 per annum

Fees for International students: £12,000 per annum

Teaching and assessment

How will you be taught?

Lectures are supported by small seminar groups that provide close contact with course tutors. Online materials support the learning and teaching environment; practicals, visits and placements enable students to put theory into practice.

How will you be assessed?

We fully recognise the value of assessing knowledge in a wholly flexible and individulised way. Therefore, assessments vary in format from essays, to producing materials to use on placement, from doing your own research to working in project groups to presentation delivery. We can adapt our methods of assessment depending on student needs.

Course leader

Dr Jonathan Harvey

Dr Jonathan Harvey is a lecturer in Education who specialises in SEN and Disability. His research has been conducted primarily with disabled people. His published research includes work which explores identity and disability; narrative methods; and the daily lives of chronically ill and disabled people. He is currently researching the complexities surrounding navigating the higher education system when you are a disabled person.

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Dr Hazel Bending

Senior Lecturer

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Hazel is a chartered psychologist. She teaches psychology, mental health and wellbeing and reflective practice. Her research focuses on how students best learn; investigating how various techniques from using technology to wellbeing can enhance students’ experiences and skills.

Kate Firks


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Kate specialises in Special Educational Needs and Disability. She is a Qualified Teacher of the Vision Impaired. 

Jan Gourd

Senior Lecturer

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Jan was previously a primary head teacher in the South West and she now leads a teaching team at Marjon who together draw on decades of classroom experience and wide-ranging research specialisms to deliver Education courses.

Chris Simpson

Senior Lecturer Institute of Education

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More information

The course team have developed close links with employers and professional organisations to ensure that the course meets the current demands of the work place. These links are further developed through work-based learning placements, the integration of a series of professional seminars delivered by external partners and key stakeholders in year 3. As well as developing strong links with both local and national professional practitioners, members of the course team have also developed strong links with academic partners at other institutions. This results in the course team being able to provide an exceptional learning experience which centres student learning on the needs of individual students.

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  • Youth and Community Work (BA Hons)
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