Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (Distance Learning) - PCert, PDip, MA

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This programme is an advanced professional development programme involving some or all of the following: distance learning; study workshops. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities can be completed mainly by distance learning.


The deadline for applications in consideration for entry in September is the 18 JULY, and we advise applicants who wish to be considered for entry in September to apply and provide all supporting documents by this date. Applications will remain open after the deadline, and we may be able to continue to consider applications received after this date for entry in September. However, there may be insufficient time to do so, in which case consideration would be for entry the following academic year.

About the Tizard Centre

The Tizard Centre is part of the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research (SSPSSR) and has excellent links with health and social care organisations, and other relevant establishments.

The Centre is at the forefront of learning and research in autism, intellectual disability and community care, and in 2013 received a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of its outstanding work in these areas.

The Centre has excellent links with health and social care organisations, and other relevant establishments. Our primary aims, through research, teaching and consultancy, are:

  • to find out more about how to effectively support and work with people with learning disabilities
  • to help carers, managers and professionals develop the values, knowledge and skills that enable better services
  • to aid policymakers, planners, managers and practitioners to organise and provide enhanced services.

The Tizard Centre is recognised as leading the field in deinstitutionalisation and community living, challenging behaviour, quality of staff support, sexuality and autism, and has had a significant impact on national policies in these areas. We are committed to addressing issues arising from social inequality.

Entry requirements

A good honours degree, typically in psychology or other relevant social sciences, or comparable professional qualifications and experience.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, students who require a student visa to study cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

English language entry requirements

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.


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Course structure

Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time

Accreditation of Prior Learning and Prior Experiential Learning may be possible on this programme. You can transfer between this programme and other programmes offered by Tizard and also between levels, subject to meeting admission requirements.

Coursework is taught through a mixture of web-based resources, directed reading, videos, lectures, seminars and practical sessions, supported by a number of workshops, where you work with skilled professionals and have the opportunity to share ideas and experiences with fellow students.

As a distance learning option all lectures are available via the web and our distance learning IT officer is available to provide technical support.  

Note:  Workshop one and exam attendance is compulsory for all postgraduate distance learners on this course.


The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

Compulsory modules currently include

TZRD8300 - Research Methods (15 credits)

The aim of this module is to teach students about research methodology and the knowledge needed to access and interpret the research literature. For those who take the statistical analysis element, the aim is also to teach appropriate statistical techniques for the analysis of quantitative data. The emphasis will be on methods of data collection and analysis which will be useful in practice settings, so that advanced multivariate techniques will not be taught.

Find out more about TZRD8300

TZRD8610 - Social Psychology of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (10 credits)

All academic modules on the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities programmes are taught using a combination of web-based resources, reading, the introductory workshop and a one-week workshop in the Spring. For each module, there will be web-based materials including video-recorded lectures, web-based discussions/seminars, and quizzes/group exercises. Students are also expected to conduct their own literature searches and follow-up the core reading and the reference lists for each topic covered

The aim of this module is to teach the basic facts about the nature and origins of intellectual and developmental disabilities, including definitions of learning disability, epidemiology, biological, social and environmental causes of learning disability. In addition, characteristics of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities will be considered (including cognitive and social characteristics) along with issues such as autism, ageing, transition, early intervention, physical & mental health, parenting, sexuality and people with intellectual and developmental disability in the criminal justice system.

Find out more about TZRD8610

TZRD8620 - Behaviour Analysis and Intervention (10 credits)

Students will receive training on behaviour analysis and broader systems of support that have emerged from the field of behavioural science to support individuals diagnosed with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. The module will critically evaluate the historical application of behavioural approaches, focusing on ethical and empowering support frameworks that can improve people's quality of life. Training will cover basic behavioural principles that link to how we learn, assessment strategies to better understand behaviour within its context, strategies to support individuals that might be exhibiting behaviours described as challenging, and ways to promote communication and the development of skills.

Find out more about TZRD8620

TZRD8630 - Service Issues in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities by Distance Learning (10 credits)

The aim of this module is to give students an understanding of organisational issues involved in learning disability services, including institutionalisation and deinstitutionalisation, theories of normalisation and criticisms of these theories, methods of analysing quality of life and care and ways of producing change in services. This module is taught as a web-based guided study module with seminars at several points in the first term. For AIIDD students, this module is closely linked to the service placement and discussion and application of web-based units will occur during placement supervision.

Find out more about TZRD8630

TZRD8650 - Extended Essay (15 credits)

All students will write one essay on a topic which requires them to draw on material from the service issues, social psychology and behavioural analysis and intervention modules. This will be done over the course of the year for full time students and in the second year for part time students and will be submitted during the third term of the final year.

Find out more about TZRD8650

TZRD9940 - Research Project in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (60 credits)

During the first term of the course students will develop ideas for their research project and will be given the opportunity to choose a research project proposed and supervised by members of the course team or other Tizard staff ( course handbook for the list of topics for the current year). Students who choose to design their own project will be allocated a project supervisor. Students following the MSc in Analysis and Intervention in Intellectual and Developmental Disability are required to do an empirical project. All other students can choose between either an empirical or a non-empirical (e.g. policy or research review) project.

Students develop a proposal (assessed) for their research project with advice from their supervisor and apply for ethical approval either to the Tizard Ethics Committee (Ethical Review Checklist available on web-based resources) or to another ethics committee such as those in the NHS.

Find out more about TZRD9940

TZRD9950 - Extended Research Project in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (120 credits)

During their first terms students will select the topic for their research project. Students will then complete a written plan for their research project and where fieldwork or other empirical research is concerned, complete the ethical review checklist, with advice from their dissertation supervisor during term 2 (or Term 3 for part-time students). The proposal will then be assessed and the ethical review checklist sent to the Tizard Ethics committee for approval.

At least one day a week is set aside for data collection during term 3 and two or three days per week after the end of term 3, for the full-time (one-year) students. There is equivalent time spread over the two years for the part-time students.

Find out more about TZRD9950

WSHOPWRIT - Write,Right (0 credits)


Teaching and assessment

Each of the four taught modules is assessed by a computer-based exam and an extended essay. In addition, the Research Methods module involves short assignments and a worked problem.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • provide graduates with detailed knowledge of intellectual and developmental disabilities, and (MA/PDip only) experience of conducting research in this field.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • definitions and epidemiology of intellectual disability
  • cognitive, communicative and social characteristics of people with intellectual disabilities
  • biological, social and environmental causes of intellectual disability
  • behaviour analysis
  • challenging behaviour and other special needs
  • ideology, policy and service development
  • definition and measurement of service quality
  • relationships between service organisation and quality
  • research methodology.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the appraisal and interpretation of evidence from the academic literature, personal/work experience and data collection
  • presenting critical, balanced arguments.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • how to conduct applied research on a topic relevant to intellectual and developmental disability (does not apply to PCert programme).

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • communication: organising information clearly; responding to written sources; presenting information orally
  • numeracy: (if statistical element of research methods module taken) making sense of statistical materials; integrating quantitative and qualitative information
  • information technology: producing written documents; undertaking online research
  • working with others: working co-operatively on group tasks; understanding how groups function
  • improving own learning: exploring personal strengths and weaknesses; time management; reviewing working environment
  • problem solving: identifying and defining problems: exploring alternative solutions and discriminating between them.


The 2023/24 annual tuition fees for this course are:

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (by Distance Learning) - PCert at Canterbury

  • Home full-time £2150
  • EU full-time £2200
  • International full-time £2900
  • Home part-time £1075
  • EU part-time £1100
  • International part-time £1450

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (by Distance Learning) - MA at Canterbury

  • Home full-time £6400
  • EU full-time £6500
  • International full-time £8700
  • Home part-time £3200
  • EU part-time £3250
  • International part-time £4350

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (by Distance Learning) - PDip at Canterbury

  • Home full-time £4300
  • EU full-time £4400
  • International full-time £5800
  • Home part-time £2150
  • EU part-time £2200
  • International part-time £2900

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Additional costs

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 


Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

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Independent rankings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, 100% of our Social work and social policy research was classified as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ for impact and environment.

Following the REF 2021, Social work and social policy at Kent was ranked 3rd for research in the UK in the Times Higher Education.


Research areas

Current research areas include: social inequalities and community care; intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Our postgraduate courses provide detailed knowledge of intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Graduates will have gained a very good understanding of the matters arising within this population and will be able to analyse and conduct relevant research.

Our postgraduate courses improve employability prospects for both those with established careers and new entrants to the field.  Many of our students already work with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in professional, management or supporting capacities.

Our programmes support their continuing professional development and enhance their opportunities for career advancement. Other students, who are at the beginning of their careers, move on to a range of professional roles in health and social care including working as psychologists in learning disability or behavioural specialists in community learning disability teams; service management of development roles; clinical psychology training or a PhD.


Study support

All teaching takes place at the Tizard Centre. Postgraduate research students have a shared office space with a computer and telephone.

Acclaimed active department

The Tizard Centre runs an annual seminar series where staff or guest lecturers present the results of research or highlight recent developments in the field of social care. The Jim Mansell Memorial Lecture invites public figures or distinguished academics to discuss topics that could interest a wider audience. The Centre also publishes the Tizard Learning Disability Review (in conjunction with Emerald Publishing) to provide a source of up-to-date information for professionals and carers.

The Tizard Centre provides consultancy to organisations in the statutory and independent sectors, both nationally and internationally, in diversified areas such as service assessment, person-centred approaches, active support and adult protection. The Centre also teaches a range of short courses, often in conjunction with other organisations.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: Journal of Mental Health; Journal of Applied Research and Intellectual Disabilities; American Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; and Journal of Intellectual Disability Research.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.

Contact us


United Kingdom/EU enquiries

PCert at Canterbury

MA at Canterbury

PDip at Canterbury

Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 768896


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International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254