Our Graduate Diploma in Autism Studies has been designed for anyone who supports autistic children and adults in the home, community, hospital or school, or would like to increase their understanding of autism. It explores current understandings of autism, ways of assessing needs and evidence-based approaches to support. This programme is an undergraduate course (level 6 or stage 3).
This programme gives you a thorough understanding of autism and helps you to deliver person centred, autism-friendly support. It produces graduates competent in the co-production of strategies likely to result in better support, who can take up employment in education and adult services in specialist and leadership roles.
It will attract parents, teachers and health professionals, social care specialists, support workers, team leaders and service managers, as well as those eager to further both their knowledge and practice, and career opportunities.
To study this programme, you must have completed the Diploma in Higher Education or Foundation Degree in Autism Studies or have a recent, relevant degree. An academic task and interview may also be required, and you should have appropriate work, volunteering or personal experience.
You can discuss and plan further postgraduate opportunities at Tizard with your tutor during your graduate diploma studies.
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.
In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research was ranked 2nd for research power in the UK. The School was also placed 3rd for research intensity, 5th for research impact and 5th for research quality.
An impressive 94% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 99% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research, gaining the highest possible score of 100%.
You study research methods, conduct a student research module, study autism culture and recent developments in policy, research and practice.
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. There are no optional modules on this pogramme.
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Teaching and Assessment
It requires around 1,200 hours of study. This course is a level 6, stage 3 programme of study.
The Graduate Diploma in Autism is taught by blended learning, a combination of exciting workshops and interactive web-delivered materials, case studies and real-world assignments. Expert practitioners on best practice and the latest research teach and lead the programme. You will work individually and collaboratively with other students, be supported by Tizard Centre tutors, and participate in group activities, discussions, as well as sharing your experience with others. An inherent part of this programme is the development of research skills.
Students attend campus for one workshop at the commencement of each academic year, as well as for an exam workshop toward the end of the year. This year comprises four modules, some unique to Autism students, some shared with Tizard students taking our Positive Behaviour Support programmes. On completion students will have knowledge not only of clinical and person centred best practice, but have gained experience of research.
This programme aims to:
- Develop a critical understanding of research methodologies.
- Conceptualise, design and carry out research investigations.
- Develop an understanding of the historical, cultural and social contexts affecting the support and understanding of individuals on the autism spectrum.
- Develop a critical understanding of current research, practice and policy topics, including an awareness of the impact on different stakeholders.
Knowledge and understanding
You will gain knowledge and understanding of:
- The policy and legal contexts of education and human service provision for individuals with autism spectrum conditions.
- Evidenced-based intervention options in designing support systems for individuals with autism spectrum conditions whose behaviour is described as challenging (with particular reference to positive behaviour support).
- The collection, analysis and interpretation of quantitative and qualitative data relating to quality of life of individuals on the autism spectrum.
- Ethical approaches to research.
- Recent developments in autism research, practice and policy.
- Autism culture.
You develop intellectual skills in:
- The ability to review and critically comment upon academic literature
- The ability to critically analyse data in relation to method, reliability and validity
- The ability to use assessment information to develop strategies for problem solving and improving people's quality of life.
- The ability to synthesise information from various sources to draw conclusions on how to best support individuals
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- The use of recognised strategies and techniques to support the provision of high quality support within services, educational or family settings.
You will gain the following transferable skills:
- Communication: Communicate ideas and arguments to others, both in written and spoken form; make short presentations to fellow students and staff; prepare written assignments and reference the materials referred to in accordance with accepted conventions.
- Working with others: Develop interpersonal and team work skills including the abilities to work collaboratively, negotiate, listen and implement change.
- Improving own learning: Be reflective, adaptive and collaborative in one's own learning; explore personal strengths and weaknesses; review working environment; develop skills in time management by delivering academic work on time and to the required standard.
- Problem solving: Identify and define problems; explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them.
- Information Technology: Produce written documents; undertake online research; study and learn independently using library and internet sources.
- Numeracy: Use descriptive statistics in the analysis of quantitative data; represent data visually.
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.
Career destinations include working as a clinical specialist, special needs advisor, autism teacher and ABA tutor for various health and special needs organisations such as the Step by Step School, Special Help 4 Special Needs and WA Health.
The graduate diploma is taught by blended learning, a combination of exciting workshops and interactive web-delivered materials, case studies and real-world assignments. Expert practitioners on best practice and the latest research teach and lead the programme. You will work individually and collaboratively with other students, be supported by Tizard Centre tutors, and participate in group activities, discussions, as well as sharing your experience with others.
Students attend campus for one workshop at the commencement of each academic year, as well as for an exam workshop toward the end of the year
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.
You must have either completed the Diploma in Higher Education or Foundation Degree in Autism Studies or else have a recent, relevant degree. An academic task and interview may be required for acceptance on to the programme.
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country.
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.
Current research areas include: social inequalities and community care; intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Staff research interests
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
Professor Julie Beadle-Brown: Professor in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Autism and social impairment in learning disability; the implementation of active support in services; the effect of grouping people in services; personcentred approaches; exclusion of people with challenging behaviour from services.View Profile
Dr Jill Bradshaw: Lecturer in Learning Disability
Staff attributions; communication and personcentred active support; communication environments; total communication approaches; augmentative and alternative communication.View Profile
Professor Rachel Forrester-Jones: Professor in Social Inclusion; Director of the Tizard Centre
Community care outcomes (mental health, learning disabilities); social networks and social support relating to all client groups, including university students; social inclusion; social environments; supported employment; death, bereavement and spirituality.View Profile
Dr Nick Gore: Senior Lecturer in Learning Disability
Relational Frame Theory; acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT); challenging behaviour; supported employment.View Profile
Professor Peter Langdon: Professor of Clinical and Forensic Psychology
Adapting, developing and evaluating psychological therapies for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; forensic mental health problems including sexual offending and their treatment; information processing models; use of technology in psychological therapies.View Profile
Dr Michelle McCarthy: Reader in Learning Disability
The sexuality of people with learning disabilities, in particular women with learning disabilities, and sexual abuse; sexual and reproductive health; the menopause for women with learning disabilities.View Profile
Professor Peter McGill: Professor of Clinical Psychology of Learning Disability
Applied behaviour analysis; challenging behaviour; positive behaviour support; family support.View Profile
Professor Glynis Murphy: Professor of Clinical Psychology and Disability
Effectiveness of cognitive behavioural treatment for men at risk of sexual offending; effectiveness of treatment for people with untreated phenylketonuria (PKU); symptoms of abuse for people with severe learning disabilities; capacity to consent to sexual relationships; early development of self-injurious behaviour; effectiveness of early intervention in autism.View Profile
Tony Osgood: Lecturer in Learning Disability
Positive behaviour support for challenging behaviour; behaviour analysis; person-centred planning; autism and asperger’s; organisational influence on human services outcomes.View Profile
Dr Paraskevi Triantafyllopoulou: Lecturer in Learning Disability
Sleep functioning and sleep problems in children and adults with learning disabilities and/or autism; sleep and challenging behaviour; offending in people with learning disabilities; person-centred active support.View Profile
The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
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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 email@example.com
General additional costs
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