Autism Studies

Autism Studies - BSc (Hons)

UCAS code L516


Do you support autistic children or adults in the home, community, hospital or at school? Would you like to improve your understanding of autism? Our Autism Studies degree explores current understandings of autism, ways of assessing needs and evidence-based approaches to support.  It also gives you the opportunity to complete a research project and explore autism culture.


This BSc will attract parents, teachers and health professionals, social care specialists, support workers, service managers, and those eager to further both their knowledge and practice, and career opportunities. You can discuss and plan a move to postgraduate studies at Tizard with your tutor during your BSc studies.

This is a blended learning programme which means that the programme is delivered using a blend of campus-based workshops and web-based materials.  Students are typically required to attend one four-day workshop at the beginning of the academic year and one two-day exam workshop in the spring term.  During each term there are weekly forum discussions/activities and online chats.  Tutorials are available (either online or via the telephone) regularly throughout the programme. Students also complete guided and independent reading/research.  Some modules also include an option for practice-based assignments.  Some online sessions are compulsory and require students to participate online at a set time (9-5 during term time).  For other elements, students can study the materials as they wish but we suggest which materials should be studied each week. 

Our programme produces graduates who understand current theory and best-practice in relation to autism. You will have knowledge of autism, including strengths and challenges, the impact of the environment and other people, changing needs across the lifespan and co-occurring conditions. You will also have knowledge about children and adults (including older adults) and of co-occurring conditions, including intellectual disabilities. Upon graduation, you can take up employment in education and adult services in specialist and leadership roles.

Autism Studies student Jen talks about her course at Kent

About The Tizard Centre

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

Teaching Excellence Framework

All University of Kent courses are regulated by the Office for Students.

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.

TEF Gold logo

Course structure

This is a blended learning course - see overview section for clarification. 

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.

Stage 1

Compulsory modules currently include Credits

This module will provide information on assessing the effectiveness of interventions in autism or intellectual and developmental disabilities suitable for schools, families, services or employment. Interventions include Positive Behaviour Support, Skills Building & Choice, Communication, SPELL, TEACCH, Person Centred Active Support and other approaches. Students will have an introduction into overcoming barriers to implementation. Students will be introduced to evaluation methods that include both quantitative and qualitative measures.

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This module will help students to evaluate the impact of practice advice, policy and legislation on attempts to provide quality provision for individuals with autism or intellectual and developmental disabilities. It will present the legal positions regarding consent & capacity, anti-discrimination legislation, human rights and safeguarding. It will consider policy initiatives and implementation as well as practice-advice, for example NICE guidelines on challenging behaviour and on autism.

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This module will present students with teaching on the policy and research contexts of person centred approaches, their origins and applications, and the methods of beginning a basic assessment of goodness of fit between individuals and environments by focussing on four domains: communication, wellbeing, choice and activities. Through assessment of work situations or of a hypothetical case study, students will be able to offer a critical and constructive answer to the question of how to provide person-centred support to individuals.

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This module will provide information on historical and current understanding and explanations of autism spectrum conditions and will examine the epidemiology of the spectrum. It will introduce the students to current key theories. The module will look at medical and social models of disability, and critiques of these models. The module will consider the impact of our historical and current understanding of autism on provision today.

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Stage 2

Compulsory modules currently include Credits

The dimensions and origins of quality of life will be considered. The module will explore a range of methods for the assessment of quality of life, including reliable and valid interview and observational methods. The research basis of quality of life assessment and intervention will be examined. Research addressing improving quality of life will be considered and implementation and evaluation methods will be taught.

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The module will review a range of assessment methods relevant to understanding behaviour and measuring quality of life. The research basis of person-centred interventions in autism spectrum conditions and/or challenging behaviours will be examined. Implementation and evaluation methods will be taught. Other specific intervention approaches will be considered including rapport-building, improving the ecology of support, improving communication, general and specific skills and well-being.

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The module will explore the characteristics, explanations of causes and current understanding and theories of autism. It will examine the historical and current approaches to autism spectrum conditions. Students will be able to critically analyse the major theories of autism spectrum conditions, including psychological, biological and neuropsychological theories of autism spectrum conditions. Students will also be introduced to the methods and tools used to diagnose autism spectrum conditions and will gain an understanding of their uses and effectiveness.

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The module will describe the research basis and application of interventions in autism. It will critically consider the effectiveness of interventions, including early behavioural interventions and other specific approaches, for example Sonrise, Relationship Development Intervention, and interventions designed for co-occurring neurodevelopmental conditions, as well as the use of and the practical application of non-specific intervention therapies such as music therapy, art therapy, daily life therapy, social skills teaching, diets and treatments used to address sensory/perceptual problems.

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Stage 3

Compulsory modules currently include Credits

Disability Culture and Disability Studies are growing areas of academic investigation, and more recently 'autism culture' has been considered. Culture may be defined as the behaviours and tropes of groups of individuals: this module will explore culture as a concept growing from positive autistic identities, self-advocacy and the politicisation of autism.

Students will be taught to consider Autism from a sociological perspective, including examining cultural, gender and political representations of ‘geekdom’, ‘Aspie’ and ‘autistic’ identities. Tim Page wrote "I hope that young Aspies, informed by recent literature on the subject, will find the world somewhat less challenging than I have". This may only be possible by moving from a ‘curebie’ perspective (a derogatory term coined by individuals with Asperger’s to describe neurologically typical people seeking to cure autism) toward a ‘neurodiversity’ position that tolerates and celebrates difference. The module will explore and analyse such perspectives.

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This module provides an opportunity for final stage students to study emergent research, policy and practice topics. It is likely to include areas in which teaching staff are active and to offer the students the opportunity to develop their understanding of research, policy and practice in key areas. Students will have the opportunity to attend our existing short courses where relevant (e.g. Talking Mats, Person-centred active support, The SPELL Framework). Topics are likely to include:

• Skilled support

• People with autism or IDD and the criminal justice system

• Autism & Women

• Mental Health & Autism or IDD

• Hate crime and victimisation

• Staff culture

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The module will ensure students are 'research aware' by teaching them about quantitative and qualitative research. It explores the purposes of research and methods, as well as the ethical, political and pragmatic issues research focused on autism & intellectual and developmental disabilities has experienced and continues to seek to address. It will teach students how to effectively carry out literature reviews, observations and participant research. The importance of critical analysis, reliability and validity is explored in depth. The module emphasises the knowledge needed to access and interpret research literature and data in the field.

View full module details

The module will offer students teaching on:

• Developing a research question

• Design of research projects

• Ethics and social validity

• Research methodologies, including

o Library-based research

o Observation

o Interviews

• Data analysis and presentation

View full module details

Teaching and assessment

The BSc 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. Each 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.

It requires 3,600 hours of study.

The programme takes students from introductory level 4 materials to final year level 6 study. 

Contact Hours

For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours.  The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Programme aims

The progamme aims to:

  • Deliver content reflecting best clinical practice and national standards to support effective work with people with autism spectrum conditions.
  • Offer flexible methods of learning that will appeal to students from diverse backgrounds.
  • Produce graduates  with the knowledge  and skills to take up employment  in education or adult human  services,  undertake  further  studies,  and  display  the  transferable  skills  necessary  to demonstrate personal responsibility and decision-making  in local and national leadership roles.
  • Prepare students to support children or adults with autism spectrum conditions and their support networks using a range of evidence-based approaches including Positive Behaviour Support.
  • Enable students to work in constructive, inclusive, and ethical ways with people  who are often marginalised and vulnerable as well as with staff or families often lacking support.
  • Provide students with a sound knowledge base and opportunities to develop analytical skills that can be applied in human service provision for children, young people and adults.    
  • Encourage participation in Higher Education of people from diverse backgrounds  some of whom may not have 'traditionally' recognised qualifications.
  • Support  the development  of high-quality  and  appropriate  services  for children  or adults  with autism spectrum conditions by preparing students to fulfil the need for specialist workers locally, nationally and internationally in a key sector of the economy.
  • Promote good practice in those supporting individuals with autism spectrum conditions through the systematic application of knowledge derived from theory and research.
  • To  encourage  practitioners  to  develop  a  clearly  articulated  person-centred   values  base  to underpin support for people on the autism spectrum.
  • To encourage a critical understanding  of policy and legal contexts in human services, including education, for children or adults with autism.
  • To develop awareness and understanding of the needs and characteristics of individuals on the autism spectrum.
  • To  develop  an  understanding  of  the  features  of  evidence-based   support  amongst  people supporting children or adults on the autism spectrum.
  • To develop a critical understanding of the importance of quality of life and the necessary skills to assess and address factors restricting it.
  • To develop a critical understanding  of theories, diagnosis and assessment  of autism spectrum conditions.
  • To  support  the  development   of  appropriate  services  for  children  or  adults  on  the  autism spectrum by evidenced-based  support methods.
  • To develop  the skills to analyse  assessment  information  and synthesise  meaning  in order to create intervention plans.
  • To develop a critical understanding of research methodologies.
  • To conceptualise, design and carry out research investigations.
  • To develop an understanding  of the historical, cultural and social contexts affecting the support and understanding of individuals on the autism spectrum.
  • To develop a critical understanding  of current research, practice and policy topics, including  an awareness of the impact on different stakeholders.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • Causes,  characteristics  and epidemiology  of autism  spectrum  conditions.
  • Supporting people on the autism spectrum and their families.
  • Person centred  approaches  as a value base for the provision of services.
  • The policy  and legal contexts  of education  and human  service  provision  for individuals with autism spectrum conditions.
  • Approaches to creating inclusive services.
  • 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.

Intellectual skills

You gain the following intellectual skills:

  • 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 best to support individuals.

Subject-specific skills

You develop subject-specific skills in the following:

  • The  selection   and   use  of  a  range   of  recognised   assessment   tools  relating  to  the understanding of autism and quality of life.
  • The development  and application  of intervention plans to intervene  in autism support  and quality of life.
  • The use  of recognised  strategies  and techniques  to support  the provision  of high quality support within services, educational or family settings.

Transferable skills

You develop transferable skills in the following:

  • 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 programmes provide you with knowledge and skills that will appeal to employers such as the NHS, education, local authority adults’ and children’s services, and the voluntary and private social and healthcare sector. You also develop transferable skills such as planning and organisation, teamwork, leadership.

This programme provides you with both academic and practical knowledge to help you provide better support to children and adults on the autism spectrum and to create autism-friendly environments.

Entry requirements

Students lacking the appropriate qualifications but who have professional employment or familial experience of autism are encouraged to apply but will be required to provide evidence of their ability to study at a Higher Education level through interview and the completion of an acess task.

All students should have appropriate work, volunteering or personal experience.

Home/EU students

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. 

It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.

New GCSE grades

If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.

Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
A level


Access to HE Diploma

The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. 

If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF; OCR) on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for further advice on your individual circumstances.

International Baccalaureate

34 points overall or 15 points at HL

International students

The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country. 

However, please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.

Meet our staff in your country

For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

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. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme. 

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.


The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £9250 £15700
Part-time £4625 £7850

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.* 

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 accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.


University funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

Government funding

You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.


General scholarships

Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. 

The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages

The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either mathematics or a modern foreign language. Please review the eligibility criteria.



The Key Information Set (KIS) data is compiled by UNISTATS and draws from a variety of sources which includes the National Student Survey and the Higher Education Statistical Agency. The data for assessment and contact hours is compiled from the most populous modules (to the total of 120 credits for an academic session) for this particular degree programme. 

Depending on module selection, there may be some variation between the KIS data and an individual's experience. For further information on how the KIS data is compiled please see the UNISTATS website.

If you have any queries about a particular programme, please contact