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Teaching Excellence Framework 2023 - Gold Award

BA (Hons) Special Educational Needs & Disability Studies

Develop both a theoretical and practical understanding of special educational needs and disability.

SENDCO works with a child with a motor disability

91% student satisfaction

National Student Survey 2022

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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

T Level Grade P (C+) DBS clearance required

We are committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and students. All students are expected to share this commitment and demonstrate consistently high standards of personal and professional conduct.

We will accept 2 AS levels in lieu of one A level but must be accompanied by 2 A Levels or BTECs (General Studies is excluded).

UCAS points 88

UCAS code X360

UCAS institution code P63

Duration Three years full-time

Any questions?

Contact Charley Lumley, our Applicant Support Coordinator, if you have any questions. Email and Charley will get back to you.

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.

The course also offers the opportunity to study abroad in Year 2, expanding your experience. 

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.

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

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

Education themes and concepts
We'll introduce the big themes and ideas in education today – schools, learning, the curriculum, the influence of politics – and prepare you with the crucial foundation for your studies over the three years. You'll engage in debate, share your thinking and hone your academic skills.
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

Honours project
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 practicioners
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.
Rethinking Education through Critical Pedagogy
Apply your knowledge regarding disability and special education to situations you might encounter when working in a school environment with children and young people with 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.

Current 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 -

See where our graduates are now

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.

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.

We have 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 and a series of professional seminars delivered by external partners and key stakeholders in the final year.

How you’ll be taught and assessed?

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.

Jonathan Harvey

Dr Jonathan Harvey

Course leader

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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.

Fees and funding

Fees UK students: £9,250 per annum

Fees for International students: £14,500 per annum

This fee covers your tuition and access to course-specific equipment and facilities, as well associated services including access to the library, study skills support, IT support, student support and wellbeing services and membership of the Student Union. There may be additional costs by course.

Funding available for this course

Our Student Funding Advisors offer confidential and impartial advice about your funding options.

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Dr Hazel Bending

Associate Professor in Psychology

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Hazel is an Associate Professor in Psychology. She teaches community psychology, neuropsychology, qualitative research methods and conceptual and historical issues in psychology.

She is a chartered member and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS), and a senior fellow of the HEA.  

She is a member of the BPS Member Board and UEC. She is the manager of the Marjon Memory Cafe and supports students in providing wellbeing interventions for people across Plymouth and the local area.

Her interests include identity, student wellbeing and academic buoyancy, and student leadership. She is currently supervising 3 PhD  students on projects relating to mental health, embodiment of cognition and supporting transitions in early years.

Kate Firks


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Kate specialises in Special Educational Needs and Disability. She is a Qualified Teacher of Children and Young People with Vision Impairment and worked across a range of mainstream and special school settings for 20 years. 

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

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