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
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.
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.
|Compulsory modules currently include||Credits|
TZ600 - Autism Culture
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.View full module details
TZ601 - Current Research, Practice and Policy Developments
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 cultureView full module details
TZ602 - Research Methods in Autism/Positive Behaviour Support
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
TZ604 - Student Research Project in Autism/Positive Behaviour Support
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
• Data analysis and presentationView full module details
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A typical offer would be to achieve Distinction, Distinction, Merit.
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 2020/21 tuition fees have not yet been set. As a guide only, the 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
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
Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details.
You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.
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.