This programme was developed in consultation with the education, health and social care, and voluntary sectors, as well as individuals affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and is designed to facilitate the professional development of teachers and other related professionals who work, or wish to work, in this area.
Students explore the theories and practice underpinning autism and can engage in associated experiential work. In line with the needs identified in the Northern Ireland Executive's Autism Strategy (2013-2020) and associated Action Plan, the course has been attuned to raising awareness, addressing issues specifically related to children and adults on the autism spectrum, and increasing knowledge and skills in relation to evidence-based interventions.
The aim is to enable the study of the theory and practice underpinning the specialist area in order to enhance understanding and ability to engage in research- and evidence-based practice. On completion of the degree, students will have:
developed a breadth of knowledge and understanding of the special needs of children, young people and adults diagnosed with autism
shown evidence of critical reflection on their professional practice and be able to apply relevant research literature to both personal and professional experience
acquired a range of specialised practical skills which will enhance their ability to support pupils and students in a variety of settings
developed teamwork skills required to work in partnership, supporting and advising other colleagues
Autism Spectrum Disorders highlights
Our educational research has been ranked 4th within the UK in relation to research intensity with 87% assessed as ‘internationally excellent or world leading’ (REF, 2014).
- Employability The programme provides a range of specialised practical skills for teaching and supporting pupils and students in a variety of settings; the teamwork skills needed to support and advise colleagues; and, the knowledge and understanding of the special needs of individuals with autism.
World Class Facilities
- Innovation Some modules of the programme are based on the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) Task Lists (eg, Fundamental Elements of Behaviour Change).
- Flexibility This programme is designed to meet the needs of professionals and is delivered via blended learning. Diploma and Certificate options are also available.
- Credit transfer Students who have completed other master's-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.
“The MSc in ASD is aimed at professionals working in education, health, and social care with a specific focus on autism spectrum and special needs. The course is suitable for anyone who works with children, adolescents, and/or adults on the autism spectrum. This course is unique in Northern Ireland and Ireland and is easily accessible for students from further afield. This is a blended learning course, taught approx. 75% in class and 25% online. Core modules that require on-campus attendance are taught in 3-day blocks, thus allowing for a flexible learning experience and student mobility.”
Professor Karola Dillenburger, Programme Director
Students may enrol on a full-time (1 year) or part-time (up to 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.
The MSc is awarded to students who successfully complete six taught modules (120 CATS points) and a 15,000 - 20,000 word research dissertation (60 CATS points). 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 core modules.
Course Details Core Modules (all 20 CATS points):
An Introduction to Research Methods: Children, Young People and Education (online)
This module will provide you with an understanding of differing perspectives that underpin quantitative and qualitative methodologies and is required preparation for your research dissertation.
Fundamental Elements of Behaviour Change (online and 1-day workshop)
We will focus on pedagogical methods and practices for inclusion that emanate from the scientific discipline of behaviour analysis. This includes a range of pedagogical methods, including intensive behaviour interventions, incidental teaching, contingency management, precision teaching, dealing with challenging behaviours, and integrating systems support. We will also introduce the practice of measurement of behaviour change and displaying and interpreting behavioural data.
Understanding Adults with ASD (3-day on-campus workshop and online)
You will be assisted to develop and extend your skills in understanding the needs of adults with ASD and their families. We will examine issues of identification, adult diagnosis, mental health, and transitions, as well as challenging behaviours, communication, and sensory issues, relationships, sexuality, self-advocacy, and neuro-diversity. We will consider the implications of an ASD diagnosis for the nuclear and extended family, for schools, homes and employment.
Understanding Children with ASD (3-day on-campus workshop and online)
You will be assisted to develop and extend your skills in understanding the needs of children (aged 0-18) with autism and their families. We will examine issues of definition, identification, diagnosis and assessment, and early intervention, as well as communication, and sensory issues across childhood and adolescence. We will also consider the implications of an autism diagnosis for the nuclear and extended family, for teaching and learning in school and home-based programmes as well as transitions between school and home.
Two optional modules may be chosen from the Educational Studies (MEd) programme.
People teaching you
Professor Karola Dillenburger is a clinical psychologist and BCBA-D. Her main research leadership concerns Applied Behaviour Analysis and evidence-based decision making and intervention in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
Graduates from this degree have found it beneficial in their workplace when advising colleagues, influencing policy makers and supporting pupils and students with autism and their families, or seeking professional promotion or diversification. Others progress to doctoral-level studies and research or teaching.
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 help our students gain key leadership positions both nationally and internationally.
Learning and Teaching
Learning opportunities available with this course are outlined below:
Full-day workshops and online
Some of the modules are taught in 3-day block workshops on campus and some are taught in a blended format (i.e., online with an optional on-campus workshop).
Assessments associated with this course are outlined below:
There are no written examinations. Modules are assessed by a variety of assessment methods, e.g. written assignments, project reports, online multiple-choice tests, or weekly contributions to online fora. Active student participation is required for all modules.
The Graduate School
The School is located within a recently renovated building, with state of the art teaching and learning facilities, together with dedicated student space including a large student common room. The teaching facilities enable an interactive learning environment.
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 experience in an education, training or relevant context.
Applicants with a lower level of performance in an Honours degree or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University may also be considered if they have at least three years of experience in an education, training or relevant context.
Applicants with a sub-honours degree level qualification or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University may also be considered if they have at least five years of experience in an education, training or relevant context.
Applicants who do not satisfy the above but who are holders of an equivalent approved professional qualification or work experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Closing date for applications: Tuesday 30th June 2020 at 4pm.
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.
English Language Requirements
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.
International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.
For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see: www.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs.
If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.
- Academic English: 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.
INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)
Fees and Funding
Northern Ireland (NI) £6,140 England, Scotland or Wales (GB) £6,900 Other (non-UK) EU £6,140 International £16,900
All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2020-21. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
Additional course costs
Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies.
Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £75 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges.
Students undertaking a period of work placement or study abroad, as either a compulsory or optional part of their programme, should be aware that they will have to fund additional travel and living costs.
If a programme includes a major project or dissertation, there may be costs associated with transport, accommodation and/or materials. The amount will depend on the project chosen. There may also be additional costs for printing and binding.
Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen.
There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Autism Spectrum Disorders costs
There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.
How do I fund my study?
The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 per NI / EU student for postgraduate study. Tuition fee loan information.
A postgraduate loans system in the UK offers government-backed student loans of up to £10,609 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.
Information on scholarships for international students, is available at http://www.qub.ac.uk/International/International-students/International-scholarships/.
How to Apply
Terms and Conditions
The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study.
Queen's University Belfast Terms and Conditions.
Fees and Funding