Autism Studies (Distance Learning) - PCert, PDip, MA
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The Autism Studies MA provides the academic background necessary for good practice both with autistic individuals and organisations that provide or arrange support.
Our programme is designed for graduates and practitioners, giving you the confidence to apply an advanced level of knowledge to many real-life situations. Gain a specialist, vocational qualification that will develop your career in the field of intellectual disabilities and autism.
Deadline for Tizard Postgraduate Taught Applications for entry in September: 18 JULY
Due to a high number of applicants we have been forced to put in place a deadline for receipt of applications for those wishing to be considered for entry to September intake.
Please therefore ensure that your full application (containing reference, all required documentation and evidence of English Language qualifications if relevant) is submitted online via the “Apply Now” link no later than 23:59 BST on 18 July.
Incomplete applications, or applications received after 18 July, will be considered for next year's September cohort.
Reasons to study Autism Studies (Distance Learning) at Kent
- Study alongside some of the UK’s leading academics working in autism, learning disability and community care.
- We offer a range of funding opportunities to fund your studies.
- As a student or graduate, you can join the Tizard Practitioners’ Network of experts in the field.
- Our distance learning course allows you to fit your studies around your work and personal life.
- Receive academic and professional support from leading clinicians and researchers in the field of intellectual disabilities and autism.
- Benefit from our excellent links with health and social care organisations, and other relevant establishments.
What you'll learn
You study a combination of academic modules and (if doing the MA/PDip) carry out a case study and/or dissertation which may be empirical or library-based. PDip students do the case study, while MA students do the case study and the research project.
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.
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.
In the news
Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time
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.
Note: Workshop one and exam attendance is compulsory for all postgraduate distance learning students 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The aim of this module is to teach the basic facts about the nature and origins of autism, including definitions, epidemiology, biological, social and environmental causes. In addition, characteristics and needs of people with autism will be considered (including cognitive and social characteristics). All of this information will be set within the wider context of intellectual and developmental disabilities and students, although focusing primarily on autism, will be required to learn and know about these issues more widely. Over 50% of people with autism have a co-morbid condition and therefore this is an essential approach.
The aim of this module is to teach advanced facts about the nature and origins of autism, including definitions, epidemiology, biological, social and environmental causes and autism specific interventions. This module will build on the knowledge of characteristics and needs of people with autism (including co-morbidities), set within the wider context of intellectual and developmental disabilities. Whist TZRD8660 (Social Psychology of Autism by Distance Learning) introduced students to intervention and approaches to supporting people with autism, this module will expand this knowledge to include the critical understanding of the research evidence around intervention in autism. Theories used to explain autism will be discussed in depth, with students supported to critically interrogate the evidence base. The knowledge and understanding developed will be used to compare and contrast approaches to intervention and draw intelligent conclusions about policy and practice. Issues from across the lifespan will be addressed, including early intervention.
This module is intended for health or social care professionals who are working with people who are on the autism spectrum (either in a paid or voluntary basis), or those who are family carers. Students will be able to apply their theoretical learning from TZRD8660 (Social Psychology of Autism) and TZRD8730 (Social psychology of autism: Advanced) to case studies.
Students will work their way through the case study material provided. As they do so, they draw on the knowledge they have gained from the academic modules related to the characteristics and nature of autism, the causes and theories of autism, intervention and approaches to support, challenging behaviour and complex needs, and service design, service quality and organisation change. They will use this knowledge to analyse case study data, produce formulations, plan interventions, interpret outcome data and describe methods of implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
This module is intended for health or social care professionals who are working with people with autism (either in a paid or voluntary basis), or those who are family carers. Students will be able to apply their theoretical learning from TZRD8660 (Social Psychology of Autism) and TZRD8730 (Social psychology of autism: Advanced) to case studies.
Students will work their way through the case study material provided. As they do so, they draw on the knowledge they have gained from the academic modules related to the characteristics and nature of autism, the causes and theories of autism, intervention and approaches to support, challenging behaviour and complex needs, and service design, service quality and organisation change. They will use this knowledge to analyse case study data, produce formulations, plan interventions, interpret outcome data and describe methods of implementation, monitoring and evaluation
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.
Teaching and assessment
Each of the five 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.
This programme aims to:
- provide you with a detailed knowledge of autism and other developmental disabilities
- provide you with experience of conducting research or intervention in the field of autism.
Knowledge and understanding
You will gain knowledge and understanding of:
- the characteristics, diagnosis and epidemiology of autism
- cognitive, communicative and social characteristics of people with intellectual disabilities
- biological, social and environmental causes of autism
- behaviour analysis
- intervention and approaches to supporting people with autism
- challenging behaviour and other associated complex needs
- ideology, policy and service development
- definition and measurement of service quality
- the relationships between service organisation and quality research methodology.
You develop intellectual skills in:
- appraising and interpreting evidence from the academic literature and personal/work experience
- presenting critical, balanced arguments.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- (applies to MA and PDip only) conducting research on a topic relevant to autism and / or conducting an intervention study and case study assignment relevant to autism.
You will gain the following transferable skills:
- communication: the ability to organise information clearly and respond to written sources
- numeracy: if you are doing the statistical element of the research methods module, you will make sense of statistical materials and integrate quantitative and qualitative information. You will also become familiar with ways of summarising and presenting data
- information technology: the ability to produce written documents, undertake online research
- working with others: the ability to work co-operatively on group tasks both within the virtual learning environment and during the residential workshops
- improve your own learning: the ability to explore your strengths and weaknesses, time management skills and review your working environment
- problem-solving: the ability to identify and define complex problems, explore alternative solutions and discriminate between them.
The 2023/24 annual tuition fees for this course are:
Autism Studies (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
Autism Studies (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
Autism Studies (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
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 email@example.com.
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.
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:
- University and external funds
- Scholarships specific to the academic school delivering this programme.
We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.Search scholarships
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Autism Studies (Distance Learning) - PCert - full-time at Canterbury
- Autism Studies (Distance Learning) - PCert - part-time at Canterbury
- Autism Studies (Distance Learning) - PDip - full-time at Canterbury
- Autism Studies (Distance Learning) - PDip - Part-time at Canterbury
United Kingdom/EU enquiries
PCert at Canterbury
PDip at Canterbury
MA at Canterbury
T: +44 (0)1227 768896
International student enquiries
T: +44 (0)1227 823254