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Autism Spectrum Disorders (MSc)

MSc|Postgraduate Taught

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Entry year
2023
Entry requirements
2.1
Duration
1 year (Full Time)
3 years (Part Time)
Places available
no limit (Full Time)
no limit (Part Time)

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.

The course can be taken fully online or in a hybrid online/on-campus mode.

The course is hosted by the Centre for Behaviour Analysis at Queens University Belfast. In line with the needs identified in the Northern Ireland Executive's Autism Strategy and associated Action Plans, 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.

Please note that there is no practice placement provided as part of this course.

Closing date for applications: Friday 30th June 2023 at 4pm.

Autism Spectrum Disorders highlights

Over 83% of research submitted by colleagues based in the Education Unit of Assessment was judged to be ‘World Leading’ or ‘Internationally Excellent' by a peer review panel (REF2021).

Career Development

  • Employability The programme provides a range of theoretical and practical skills for teaching and supporting pupils, students and residents with autism 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 One of the core modules of the programme is based on the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) Task Lists (e.g. Fundamental Elements of Behaviour Change). Optional modules that are based on the BACB list also are online (i.e. Behaviour Change and Education; Concepts and Principles of Behaviour Analysis). Some of the other optional modules are classroom-based and may require attendance on campus.

Student Experience

  • Flexibility This programme is designed to meet the needs of professionals and is delivered fully online (online option) or via blended learning (campus-based option). 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 (max. 60 credit points). 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, that can be taken either online or on campus, thus allowing for a flexible learning experience and student mobility.”
Professor Karola Dillenburger, Programme Director

Course Structure

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 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.

The course includes four core/compulsory modules (these are taught online) and two optional modules. A menu of optional modules is available; some of the optional modules are taught online, while some are taught in-class and require attendance on the Belfast campus.

Course DetailsCore Modules (each 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)
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 (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 (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 taught modules may be chosen from the Educational Studies (MEd) programme. Some modules require weekly on-campus attendance.

The topic for the Masters dissertation is to be chosen by the student, in discussion with their supervisor.

People teaching you

Programme Director and Director of the Centre for Behaviour Analysis

SSESW
Professor Karola Dillenburger is a clinical psychologist and Board Certified Behaviour Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA-D). Her main research leadership concerns Applied Behaviour Analysis and evidence-based decision making and intervention in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

Teaching Times

This programme is designed to meet the needs of professionals and is delivered fully online (online option) or via blended learning (campus-based option).

Career Prospects

Introduction
Graduates from this Master's 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:

Online and on-campus workshops

Some of the modules are taught online with on-campus workshops. Some optional modules require weekly on-campus attendance; other optional modules are taught online.

Assessment

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 dissertation is assessed via an extensive piece of written work.

Facilities

The School is situated across a suite of three buildings in Belfast's Queen's Quarter. We provide student and staff common rooms, computer suites and designated study spaces.
Explore the teaching and social spaces in our School through our 360 Virtual Tour:
https://youtu.be/PJeiF24bjxE

The Graduate School
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJ_BwOtjXAE

Prizes and Awards

  • Teachers working on classroom-based dissertation projects may apply for the Northern Ireland Centre for Educational Research (NICER) award.

Resources

You can watch a recording of a recent webinar at the link below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qWd9wk0o5I

Modules

The information below is intended as an example only, featuring module details for the current year of study. Modules are reviewed on an annual basis and may be subject to future changes – revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year.

  • Year 1

    Core Modules

    Dissertation (60 credits)

    Optional Modules

Entrance requirements

Graduate
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: Friday 30th June 2023 at 4pm.

Late applications may be considered.

Applicants are advised to apply as early as possible. In the event that any programme receives a high number of applications, the University reserves the right to close the application portal prior to the deadline stated on course finder. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Application Portal against the programme application page.

International Students

Our country/region pages include information on entry requirements, tuition fees, scholarships, student profiles, upcoming events and contacts for your country/region. Use the dropdown list below for specific information for your country/region.

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)

Career Prospects

Introduction
Graduates from this Master's 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.

What employers say

“We are very fortunate to have such high calibre and expert MSc ASD students available to us, who can contribute enormously to improving the play, learning and social experience of our children with autism.”
Joan Henderson, Sólás Educational Charity

Additional Awards Gained

There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.

Prizes and Awards

Teachers working on classroom-based dissertation projects may apply for the Northern Ireland Centre for Educational Research (NICER) award.

Graduate plus award for extra-curricular skills

In addition to your degree programme, at Queen's you can have the opportunity to gain wider life, academic and employability skills. For example, placements, voluntary work, clubs, societies, sports and lots more. So not only do you graduate with a degree recognised from a world leading university, you'll have practical national and international experience plus a wider exposure to life overall. We call this Graduate Plus. It's what makes studying at Queen's University Belfast special.

Tuition Fees

Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £6,980
Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £6,980
England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £8,360
EU Other 3 £19,100
International £19,100

1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled status, will be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB will be charged the GB fee.

2 EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI are eligible for NI tuition fees.

3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.

All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2023-24, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

More information on postgraduate tuition fees.

Additional course costs

All Students

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.

More information on funding options and financial assistance.

International Scholarships

Information on scholarships for international students, is available at www.qub.ac.uk/International/International-students/International-scholarships.

How to Apply

Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

Apply now

When to Apply

The deadline for applications is normally 30th June 2021. In the event that any programme receives a high volume of applications, the university reserves the right to close the application portal earlier than 30th June deadline. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Entry Portal (DAP) against the programme application page.

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.


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