Autism Studies

Programme Overview
The one-year Level 9 Graduate Certificate in Autism Studies is accredited by the University of Limerick and is delivered as a partnership between Mary Immaculate College and Middletown Centre for Autism. Taught in five modules, the programme uses combination of face-to-face and online teaching methods. The modules are taught by experienced professionals from both MIC and Middletown Centre for Autism and will explore overlapping areas from experiential, educational, supportive and behavioural perspectives.

Key Features
Mary Immaculate is a College of Education and the Liberal Arts and has been providing teacher education since 1898. Mary Immaculate has considerable experience and expertise in the provision of teacher education in the area of Special and Inclusive Education including autism. The College's Department of Educational Psychology, Inclusive and Special Education is led by Dr Patricia Daly, who is a co-organiser of this course on autism.

Middletown Centre for Autism is funded by the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Education in Northern Ireland to promote excellence in the education of people with autism. As such, the Centre works on a referral basis with children who have complex needs in school and the Centre is one of the main providers of training for parents and educational professionals in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Both agencies recognise the need for high quality graduate autism professional development in Ireland and Northern Ireland and the Graduate Certificate in Autism Studies will meet this need.

The face-to-face component of the Graduate Certificate will be will be delivered on a maximum of two Saturdays* per module in both Mary Immaculate College and in Middletown Centre for Autism (or another agreed location). Students will choose their preferred site in which to complete their studies in the application form. It should be noted that the first on-site day takes place in Mary Immaculate College, Limerick for all students for the purposes of enrolment and orientation. Attendance on this day is compulsory. Students will also be required to engage weekly with a range of research papers, podcasts, videos and reflective exercises as part of the programme. The online content is delivered through and supported by Mary Immaculate College's Moodle platform.

All students will be enrolled as students of Mary Immaculate College and will be required to complete formal assessment prior to the award of the Graduate Certificate. Successful completion of the Graduate Certificate in Autism Studies (GCAS) provides candidates with 30 ECTS/60 CAT points.

*Approximately 10 Saturdays across the academic year.

Entry requirements

A level 8 qualification or equivalent in any discipline or a Bachelor's degree at Level 7 or 8 is required for entry to this programme.

English Language Requirements
Applicants for whom English is not a first language must provide evidence of their proficiency level English in the form of an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) composite score of 6.5 – 7.0 with no less than 6.0 in any one component, or IELTS equivalent accepted by UL. Such applicants will also be required to undergo an interview through English.

Subjects taught

Semester One Topics:
•Understanding Autism (AUT500): The aim of this module is to provide students with a comprehensive overview of autism. This will include how autism presents and is diagnosed, both in adults and children; the core challenges associated with autism and how these impact on the child and the adult; additional difficulties that people with autism can experience; how autism interfaces with other difficulties. Students will explore the importance of understanding these differences when supporting an autistic individual.

•Visual Learning and Environmental Support for Individuals with Autism (AUT505): The aim of this module is to provide students with the theory and practical application of the use of structure and visual teaching strategies for children and young people with autism across learning environments. Participants will gain practical knowledge and an understanding of the theory and research that supports this practice. This will result in a set of core competencies, as well as practical experience in the development of resources that support the thinking and learning style of individuals with autism.

Semester Two Topics:
•Managing Anxiety for Individuals with Autism (AUT506):The aim of this module is to provide participants with an overview of the relationship between autism and anxiety. This will involve a review of how the core features of autism can trigger an anxiety response; an examination of a model of the anxiety process and a comprehensive appraisal of current anxiety management strategies. This is all delivered within the context of current research and best practice in the area of autism and anxiety management.

•Positive Behaviour Support for Individuals with Autism (AUT507): This module will view behaviour management in a positive, proactive manner taking into account the particular sensory processing difficulties, that can present in individuals with autism. This will include an overview of the neural mechanisms that modulate sensory input, the presentation of sensory processing difficulties and strategies that can be used to support individuals who experience sensory processing difficulties. Participants will learn how to analyse the environment and manage it to prevent behaviour difficulties and support appropriate behaviours in individuals with autism. Functional approaches for solving challenging behaviour will be presented.


1 year

Enrolment dates

How To Apply
Download and complete the application form from "Application Weblink" below.

•The application form must also include your university transcripts.
•In the case of non-native English speakers, a copy of IETLS is also required, or equivalent.

Please pay the non-refundable €50 application fee using Realex (view on course webpage - link below), and return the application form by email to: or by post to: Admissions Office, Mary Immaculate College, South Circular Road, Limerick, Ireland, V94 VN26.

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    Graduate Certificate

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