MA SEN/ALN (Autism)

The MA SEN/ALN (Autism) course at University of South Wales is unique in Wales. It is the only practice-based study of autism in the region and draws a wide range of students from south Wales and the west of England, as well as international students.

The course will be of interest to professionals working in the field of education, health, social care and the third sector who have contact with autistic children or adults.

The MA SEN/ALN (Autism) is designed for those who wish to become an advanced practitioner in autism by acquiring a relevant qualification.

It is also of relevance to newly qualified practitioners who are interested in gaining a specialism in autism, and to those coming from a personal perspective on autism who would like to deepen their knowledge and find out more about current research and relevant theoretical ideas.


Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Full-time 1 Year September Newport City C
Part-time 3 Years September Newport City C
Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Full-time 1 Year September Newport City C
Part-time 3 Years September Newport City C

The autism course explores theory, policy and practice in relation to all aspects of autism as it is currently understood within different contexts. Modular content is designed to provide the opportunity to tailor your postgraduate degree to meet your individual professional or personal needs.

There are two specified modules focused on autism:

  • Autism: Contexts and Concepts
    This module examines the development of current theories of autism and explores the implications of these for autistic individuals, families and practitioners. It is designed to deepen your knowledge and understanding of the sensory perceptual differences of autism and consider the ways in which these may give rise to a different way of being in the world.
  • Managing and Supporting Autism
    It will enable you to evaluate the continuum of provision for autistic people in the light of theories of learning and with reference to important models of disability.

In addition to these two modules, you are able to select two or three additional modules from the Professional Learning Programme, for example:

  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health
    This module focuses on the causation, presentation and implications of mental health difficulties in children and young people.

  • SEN: Contexts and Concepts
    This module examines practice in SEN/ALN, learning disabilities and inclusive education and critically reflects on the tension between identification of need and the philosophy of inclusion

  • Leading and Managing SEN/ALN
    This module is designed to provide students with a better understanding of theory and practice in relation to the role of SENCo/ALNCo and so respond to the changing landscape of SEN/ALN.

In common with all of the Professional Learning programmes, you must take the core module Research Methodology if you are studying the full Masters course.

A full range of the modules is available from the course leader, Dr Carmel Conn.

Awards are available at Postgraduate Certificate level (after completion of two taught modules); Postgraduate Diploma level (after completion of four taught modules) and the full MA (on completion of a dissertation).


This Autism course runs on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evenings, 5-8pm at Newport City campus.

For part-time students, attendance is one evening a week, 5-8pm for two terms (autumn term and spring term).

Most students following the part-time programme spend 2 years on the taught modules (typically one evening per week) and undertake their dissertation in their third year.

Full-time students are able to complete the whole programme within 12 months.  For most of the time full-time students study alongside part-time students in the evenings. 

However, there are some classes for full time students that take place during the day, including Research Methodology and Critical Thinking.  Full time students can ask to be given an internship during the final semester so that they can learn from observing good practice in a relevant education setting.

Each module is taught during weekly on campus sessions over 10 week terms. Learning takes place in teacher and student-led seminars, group discussions, individual tutorials and through active learning tasks.

Content is delivered in engaging and interactive ways, with clear direction and support provided for critical reading and academic-level writing.

Teaching is delivered by the module leader together with guest speakers

Find out more about our current research into learning disabilities and developmental disorders.


Each module is assessed by an assignment, which may take the form of a 5,000 word written assignment or an alternative practical assessment task.

To complete the full Masters award, you will need to complete a 15,000 word dissertation based on a topic of your choice, though there is the option of completing a shorter dissertation (7,500 words) and studying one more module.

You will be supported by a tutor during the assignment writing process via individual tutorials.


If you are not in professional practice, but would like to gain experience of working professionally in relation to autism education and support, help with setting up an internship can be provided.


Students will have access to facilities in the Postgraduate Study Centre at Newport City campus.


We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement

At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.

If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.

First degree and/or sufficient relevant experience of autism and evidence of recent study. Full-time students who want support with finding an internship will also need to provide evidence of a current enhanced DBS check (or its equivalent if an EU or international student).

The course welcomes international applicants and requires an English level of IELTS 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component or equivalent.

Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course.

August 2024 - July 2025 Fees

  • Full-time UK:  £10250

  • Full-time International:  £16000 

  • Part-time UK:  £1140 per 20 credits

August 2025 - July 2026 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

  • Part-time UK: TBC

Student Perks

At the University of South Wales, you’re investing in so much more than a degree. We strive to provide our students with the best possible experience, no matter what you chose to study. Whether it’s access to top of the range mac books and PCs, state-of-the-art facilities packed with industry-leading equipment and software, masterclasses and events led by industry experts, or a wide range of clubs and societies to meet likeminded people, better tomorrows start with extra perks.

Each course also has their own unique student benefits to prepare you for the real word, and details of these can be found on our course pages. From global field trips, integrated work experience and free course-related resources, to funded initiatives, projects working with real employers, and opportunities for extra qualifications and accreditations - at USW your future, is future-proofed.

Click here to learn more about student perks at USW.

Additional Costs

As a student of USW, you’ll have access to lots of free resources to support your study and learning, such as textbooks, publications, online journals, laptops, and plenty of remote-access resources. Whilst in most cases these resources are more than sufficient in supporting you with completing your course, additional costs, both obligatory and optional, may be required or requested for the likes of travel, memberships, experience days, stationery, printing, or equipment.


Funding to help pay for (or cover) course tuition fees and living costs

Whilst you’re studying, you’ll have two main financial obligations – tuition fees and living costs. There’s lots of financial help available from the University of South Wales and external funding sources, that may provide loans (which have to be paid back) and grants, scholarships and bursaries (that don't).

To learn about course fees, funding options, and to see if you are eligible for financial support, visit our Fees and Funding pages.


USW Postgraduate 20% Alumni Discount 2023/24

The University of South Wales is offering a 20% reduction in tuition fees for all University of South Wales* graduates starting a taught/online*** MA,MSc, LLM,MBA or DBA course from September 2023 (this includes students starting a course in January/February 2024). T's and Cs apply. Click here for more details and eligibility criteria: USW Postgraduate Alumni Discount 2023/24

Apply directly to the University for this course.

Admissions statement 

Most students who study the part-time autism course already work in this specific field. Our full-time students quickly find work locally within education or the care sector, which offers them opportunities to apply theory to practice.

A Masters degree in autism is a major boost to a career. Whatever your profession, experience has shown us that learning on the course leads to enhanced employment prospects. Parents of autistic children feel empowered from the increased insight gained.

A number of students have gone on to present at national and international conferences on an aspect of autism. Other students have secured promotion and or employment in organisations that specifically support or educate autistic individuals.