Autism Studies

Autism Studies - GDip

This is an archived page and for reference purposes only


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.

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

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 programme.

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.

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

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.

Learning outcomes

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.

Intellectual skills

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

Subject-specific skills

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.

Transferable skills

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.

Entry requirements

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. 

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
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 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

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.