Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

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

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Do you work in or aspire to work in forensic service lines for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities? Do you want to increase your knowledge and expertise in how best to work with and support service users based on the latest available evidence?


At the Tizard Centre, you will receive cutting-edge, critical, and career-driven education in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Forensic Issues. You will learn about the aetiology, assessment, and treatment of offending and/or offending-like behaviour in this group of people and how best to support them to lead meaningful, law abiding lives in the community. We will embed your knowledge and expertise within the current legal and policy framework surrounding specialist forensic services, offer opportunities for practice and/or research in the field, and support the development of your career as an evidence based practitioner.

Reasons to study Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Forensic Issues at Kent

  • The Tizard Centre is at the forefront of learning and research in autism, intellectual disability and community care. Our pioneering approach dates back to our first Director, Jim Mansell who in 2012 was awarded a CBE. In 2013, the Centre received a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of its outstanding work in the field.
  • We are the only higher education institution in the UK to offer a course specialising in Forensic Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
  • Our application for Continuous Professional Development approval with the British Psychological Society is underway.
  • Tailor your degree to your own career: choose the MA to focus on advanced research skills, the Diploma for work based learning, or the Certificate for professional development.
  • Hear from reputed academics in the field and experienced professional staff from specialist forensic services through our partnerships with the NHS, Police Service, HMP Prison Service, Ministry of Justice, Probation Service and Charitable Organisations.
  • Access the latest research evidence in the field through the University’s outstanding library resources.
  • Join our Tizard Practitioners’ Network and receive information about job opportunities, consultancy opportunities and requests for peer-to-peer support.
  • Receive outstanding support to achieve your ambitions – from our academics, specialist employability team and our professional experience and networks

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

We welcome applications from applicants who have obtained at least a second class honours degree including all the required examinations at a university in the United Kingdom or at another approved university.

Mature applicants without a degree are asked to provide evidence of their ability to complete a postgraduate programme successfully, and are eligible to enter the programme following the completion of an assessed task.

We encourage international applicants with the relevant academic/professional background and competence in spoken and written English. However, we require them to have some experience of UK services. We also require applicants to have 7.5 IELTS, minimum 6.5 in any element or equivalent in other tests.

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: 2 years part-time

Teaching includes lectures, guided study using Moodle, with seminars and group exercises to enhance understanding of the underlying concepts. The MA is awarded for the achievement of 180 credits from taught modules and the successful completion of the dissertation.


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.


Teaching and assessment

The assessment methods include unseen examinations, mixture of essays and assignments.

Programme aims

The aims of this programme are:

  • to provide students with detailed knowledge of intellectual and developmental disabilities and forensic issues
  • to develop an evidence-based critical understanding of intellectual and developmental disabilities and forensic issues
  • to encourage values-based, ethically stringent practice and/or research in intellectual and developmental disabilities and forensic issues
  • to produce graduates equipped to play a leading role in public services for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and forensic issues

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain the following knowledge and understanding:

  • Definitions and epidemiology of intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • Definitions and prevalence of challenging behaviour and offending in IDD
  • Cognitive, communicative and social characteristics of people with IDD at risk of offending
  • Biological, social and environmental factors in the causes of IDD and offending
  • Values & ethical principles underpinning professional practice
  • Methods of assessment and intervention for IDD and offending
  • Ideology, policy and service development in IDD and offending
  • Definition and measurement of service quality
  • Relationships between service organisation and quality
  • Research methodology and basic statistical analysis

Intellectual skills

You will develop intellectual skills in:

  • The ability to present critical, balanced and conceptually-informed arguments
  • The ability to appraise and interpret evidence from academic literature and personal/work experience
  • The ability to critically analyse data with reference to issues of method, reliability and validity
  • The ability to generate and interpret evidence through research 

Subject-specific skills

You will develop skills to: 

  • Conduct assessments, design interventions, monitor outcomes and adjust interventions at individual and service levels.
  • Behave in an ethically correct and professional manner, working collaboratively with users and colleagues, using supervision and recognising limitations.
  • Conduct applied research on a topic relevant to IDD and forensic issues.

Transferable skills

You gain the following transferable skills:

  • Communication: organise information clearly, respond to written sources, present information orally
  • Numeracy: make sense of statistical materials, integrate quantitative and qualitative information
  • Information Technology: produce written documents, undertake online research
  • Working with others: work co-operatively on group tasks, understand how groups function
  • Improving own learning: explore personal strengths and weaknesses, time management, review working environment
  • Problem solving: identify and define problems, explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them


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

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

  • Home part-time £1075
  • EU part-time £1100
  • International part-time £1450

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

  • Home part-time £3200
  • EU part-time £3250
  • International part-time £4350

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Forensic issues (by Distance Learning)- PDip-part-time at Canterbury

  • 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

Social work and social policy at Kent was ranked 3rd for research in the UK in the Times Higher Education (REF2021).


Research areas

Current research areas include: social inequalities and community care; IDD and challenging behaviour; offending and IDD; early intervention; autism; abuse; service quality.

View details of current research on the Tizard website.


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

This particular programme will also provide the necessary skills to work in secure services or forensic community teams. 

Study support

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.

Apply now

Learn more about the application process or begin your application by clicking on a link below.

You will be able to choose your preferred year of entry once you have started your application. You can also save and return to your application at any time.

Apply for entry to:

Contact us


United Kingdom/EU enquiries

PCert at Canterbury

MA at Canterbury

PDip at Canterbury

Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 768896


Subject enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 827958



International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254