Institution / Queens University Belfast

Education - Inclusion & Special Needs Education

As contemporary societies become more heterogeneous, and as inclusive education reforms gain currency across the world, educational systems are being challenged to address some fundamental questions about teaching and learning related to the accommodation of and respect for difference.

Underpinning the movement for inclusion is a concern for social justice and wellbeing. Meeting the diverse needs of learners within today's schools, colleges and universities, is one of the most challenging and important tasks facing education today.

This thoroughly revised Masters degree is unique not only because of the disciplinary approaches it employs, but also because students study and apply an approach to wellbeing that has been developed by some of the world’s leading thinkers.

This is an approach that is internationally recognised by, for example, the UN, and whose principles are increasingly found in government policy on education and SEN, namely the Capability Approach. The School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queen’s is one of the very few institutions in the UK to offer this practical and ethical approach to assessing issues of SEN, equality and inclusion.

There are three compulsory modules:
• The Intellectual Foundations of Special Needs Education (online module)
• Reimagining Special Needs Education and Inclusion
• Special Needs Education and Issues of Equity

Issues you will explore include, for example, what we mean by special educational needs; how a SEN impacts on attainment, emotional and physical wellbeing, or inclusive practice; barriers to inclusion, including social class, gender, and ethnicity; and the role of stereotyping, prejudice and ignorance to ask questions about justice and equality for those identified as having a special educational need. In exploring your responses to such questions, you will examine the practical implications for improving and developing your own professional practice.

The skills you will develop include critical thinking skills and how best to be an inclusive practitioner. Importantly, this is a professionally based degree which means that you will apply what you have learned to your own professional practice whether you are a classroom assistant, SENCO or university lecturer.

Students who have undertaken the Masters degree value it for its innovative, challenging, and thought-provoking content, as well as its practical application to professional practice.

On successful completion students will have:
• familiarity with a range of philosophical and sociological issues in special needs education and an insight into the implications of these issues for children who often find themselves on the margins of inclusion
• a high level of critical understanding of the theory and practice of contemporary inclusive and special/additional needs education, and of inclusive pedagogy
• a comprehensive understanding of exclusion and the relationship between educational special needs and social justice, and how these relate to dyslexia, autism, and so on, as well as to class, gender and ethnicity.

Why queen's?
Flexibility: this programme is designed to meet the needs of professionals and is delivered via blended learning (a mixture of face-to-face and online learning). Diploma and Certificate options are also available.

Credit transfer: students who have completed other masters-level awards, e.g. PGCE, within the last 10 years are eligible to credit transfer. The credit transfer application must be submitted at the same time as the online programme application as retrospective applications are not accepted.

Entry requirements

A 2.1 Honours degree or above or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in any subject discipline.

Applicants with a 2.2 Honours degree or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University may also be considered if they have at least two years of professional experience in an education, training or relevant context.

International Qualifications
For information on international qualification equivalents please select Your Country from the list on our International Students website.

Additional Information for International Students
International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their studies. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required.
*taken within the last 2 years

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this programme, our partner INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability to entry to this programme.

For additional information, please visit our website.
• English for University Study - an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level.
• Pre-sessional English - a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.


1 year full-time or up to 3 years part-time. Individual modules may be studied as short courses.

Learning and Teaching
Evenings and Saturday workshops

Indicative Number of Modules per Semester
Part-time students typically complete one or two modules per semester. Full-time students typically complete three modules per semester.

Indicative Proportional Mix of Time in Classes, Tutorials/Seminars/Labs, and Private Study in a Teaching Semester
Varies, depending on module choice and study mode (full-time/part-time).

Careers or further progression

Graduates from this degree have found it beneficial in their professional institutions in advising colleagues, influencing policy and supporting pupils and students.

The degree helps students reshape their thinking on special needs education and matters of inclusion, to question values and beliefs that were previously taken for granted. Importantly, a Masters degree in SEN/Inclusion will be of great advantage to professionals seeking promotion as we move towards a Masters-led teaching profession.

Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Degree Plus and Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability, while innovative leadership and executive programmes alongside sterling integration with business experts helps our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.

Further enquiries

Gillian Beavis
School of Education
T: +44 (0)28 9097 5923

Subjects taught

Students may enroll on a full-time (1 year) or part-time (3 years) basis. Individual modules may be studied as a short course. Part-time students typically complete one or two modules per semester. Full-time students typically complete three modules per semester.

List of Indicative Programme Modules
Modules (compulsory, all 20 CATS points):
• An Introduction to Research Methods: Children, Young People and Education (online)
• Reimagining Special Needs Education: Inclusive Pedagogy
• Special Needs Education and Issues of Equity
• The Intellectual Foundations of Special Education

Optional modules may be chosen from the Educational Studies (MEd) degree.

The MEd is awarded to students who successfully complete six taught modules (120 CATS) and a 15,000-20,000 word dissertation. Exit qualifications are available: students may exit with a Postgraduate Diploma by successfully completing 120 CATS points from taught modules or a Postgraduate Certificate by successfully completing 60 CATS points from taught modules.

We've made it easy to study for a masters module as a short course. If you would like to apply for a short course, please contact the Education Secretary for advice.

Assessment method

There are no written examinations. Modules are assessed through a written assignment of 3000 words that is informed by the student’s own professional practice and experience.

Application date

Postgraduate Taught
Closing dates do apply for some of our courses, and details of these are available on our Course Finder. We advise you to apply as early as possible, particularly for those courses where there is a high demand for places. Early application is also important for international applicants to allow sufficient time to obtain a student entry visa.

How to Apply
Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply. See application weblink below.

Enrolment and start dates

Entry year: 2018

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