Postgraduate Diploma SEN/ALN (Specific Learning Difficulties)

This course is dually accredited by the university and the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) at either an approved teacher/practitioner (ATS/APS) level or the associated membership (AMBDA) level.

The Postgraduate Diploma SEN/ALN is ideal for those who are working with children, young people or adults with specific learning difficulties and want a recognised qualification in this field, in particular those who are working in Education (SENCos/ALNCOs, specialist teachers, one to one tutors within FE/HE together with learning support staff across a range of settings).

Students who complete the course and meet the BDA requirements for specialist teacher status can if they wish make an application to the BDA for either an approved teacher/practitioner (ATS/APS) level or the associated membership (AMBDA) level.

This SEN/ALN course may also of interest to professionals working in health such as Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists and other non-statutory organisations.

The Postgraduate Diploma SEN/ALN course offers an in-depth focus on contemporary perspectives of dyslexia and inclusive practice together with the opportunity to widen students’ theoretical understanding through research and evaluation within their respective professional roles.

2021/22 update: Blended learning approach for USW courses.

[Update excludes online-only courses].

The wellbeing and health and safety of our students and staff is paramount to us. We are committed to delivering all of our courses and services as safely as possible. Due to the pandemic, the methods and activities adopted for the coming year may differ from those previously published and may be subject to further change through the course of your study if such change is necessary due to public health concerns, health and safety guidance or in response to Government Guidelines. USW is committed to providing you with a fantastic student experience and a wealth of support, and you can hear how students have benefitted from this approach here: Learn more about blended learning.

Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Part-time 2 Years September Newport City C

You will study four taught modules:

  • SEN/ALN: Contexts and Concepts
  • Dyslexia theory and assessment (ATS/AMBDA)
  • Working with Dyslexia: Linking theory, Assessment and Practice (ATS/AMBDA)
  • Research Methodology

You will gain knowledge of:

  • The vast range of differences within the SpLD continuum
  • Current research on the identification of learners experiencing problems with literacy and numeracy
  • Assessing individual learning needs, using both standardised and non-standardised methods
  • Planning programmes of work for individual pupils based on initial and ongoing assessment
  • The effects on learning, self esteem and behaviour of SpLD
  • Monitoring the progress of learners who may show uneven or intermittent standards of achievement
  • A variety of strategies and resources, including ICT and technical aids, for assisting pupil organisation, drafting and presentation of work
  • The monitoring, evaluation and auditing responsibilities within school or service, in respect of the quality of provision for pupils with SpLD


Students take two modules in year one, and two modules in year two. Both SpLD modules are taught on Monday evenings for three hours on campus over a period of 12 consecutive weeks.

The course is designed to enable experienced practitioners in education and related professions to critically engage in the social, political and global debates relating to the assessment, intervention and learning experiences of children, young people and adults with dyslexia. It is also designed to encourage greater understanding and a critical appreciation of the trends and developments in dyslexia assessment and intervention across schools and relevant settings. The course offers an in-depth focus on contemporary perspectives of dyslexia and inclusive practice together with the opportunity to widen students’ theoretical understanding through research and evaluation within their respective professional roles.



The first module is assessed on the basis of a written assignment of 5,000 words (or equivalent).

The second module is assessed in two ways. For students seeking a professional award, the successful completion of 30 hours of teaching experience and assessment of relevant files (equivalent to 5,000 words). For other participants, one 5,000 word assignment, or the equivalent

  • Qualified Teacher Status plus teaching experience or a minimum of two years’ experience of supporting students with literacy difficulties in further or Higher Education.
  • An Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check on the Child Workforce and Child Barring List and subscription to the DBS Update Service. (Overseas equivalent required for non-uk applicants)

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 2020 - July 2021 Fees

  • Part-time UK and EU:  £1000 per 20 credits

August 2021 - July 2022 Fees

  • Part-time UK and EU: TBC

Additional Costs

Students have access to a wide range of resources including textbooks, publications, and computers in the University’s library and via online resources. In most cases they are more than sufficient to complete a course of study. Where there are additional costs, either obligatory or optional, these are detailed below. Of course students may choose to purchase their own additional personal resources/tools over and above those listed to support their studies at their own expense. All stationery and printing costs are at a student’s own expense.

* Obligatory

Item Cost
Teaching practice observations for Advanced Teacher Status (ATS) * £400
Teaching practice observations are compulsory for the Post Graduate Diploma
Additional assessment or memberships: Professional body student fees for AMBDA * £800
Associate Membership of British Dyslexia Association (AMBDA) (British Dyslexia Association)
DBS * £47.20
This fee includes £40 for the enhanced DBS certificate, the Post Office Administration fee and the online administration fee.
DBS Updating Service * £13
Subscription required for each year of the course for a yearly fee of £13. Please note the service has to be joined within 30 days of receipt of your enhanced DBS certificate.

Apply directly to the University for the SEN/ALN course.

Admissions statement 

Most students on the Postgraduate Diploma SEN/ALN (Specific Learning Difficulties) proceed to the MA dissertation, in order to achieve the award of Masters in SEN. Following successful completion of the this SEN qualification, students have gained posts as school and college SENCOs, specialist tutors in SPLD services, set up their own SpLD consultancies, or become LEA Advisors. Others have published books and papers on the subject and gained doctorate awards.

Holders of AMBDA accreditation are recognised as specialists in Dyslexia/Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs); are qualified to conduct specialist diagnostic assessments; Exam Access Arrangements and to deliver specialist teaching programmes to learners with Dyslexia/SpLD.

The JCQ Access Arrangements criteria (7.3.4) for a Specialist Assessor map onto those for AMBDA. Therefore, holders of AMBDA have the right to assess for, and diagnose Dyslexia/SpLDs and make recommendations for Exam Access Arrangements (EAA). When applying for AMBDA, after the successful completion of a BDA accredited course, such as this, applicants are also eligible to apply for an Assessment Practising Certificate (APC) without additional training.