You will have a personal tutor in a small online tutor group and your own virtual tutorial space. Through the online 'ACER hub', we encourage you to develop through shared experience with students on your course and across all our autism courses (Internet access is required). There are two compulsory study weekends in the first year or two years.
You can study this online distance learning course on a part-time basis from anywhere in the UK or internationally (if you have access to the Internet). By studying at a distance, you remain in your work setting and can therefore tailor the course to meet your professional needs or your particular interests and experiences. Learning and teaching take place through:
Interactive study materials
Study materials in the form of a range of online resources are available within the virtual learning environment (VLE) and the e-library which has an extensive collection of online journals and ebooks. The VLE is designed to enhance your studies, giving you immediate access to resources and documents including interview footage with prominent autistic authors and researchers. It is designed to be viewed alongside your reading to help you translate theoretical ideas into actual practice. The VLE also offers you an important opportunity to make contact with other students, not only in your own tutor group but across the Autism programmes, through bulletin boards, online chats and seminars/workshops. ACER offers a large and vibrant community of students and researchers and we want you to make the most of this network while you study with us, giving you contacts that we hope will benefit you long after you have graduated.
The course is structured as Modules and divided into Units. Each Module has overall aims and outcomes and the specific aims and outcomes of the Units contribute to achieving these. By keeping the aims and outcomes in mind as you study, you will be able to check your own development and make sure that you are 'on target'. The core reading materials are designed to provide a comprehensive overview of theory and practice in relation to autistic adults. Materials are designed to suit practitioners from a range of settings but share a common goal; How can we use current theory and research to remove barriers to achievement for autistic adults and improve their quality of life?
Some students wish to develop a broad spectrum of knowledge and have never studied autism before; others join the course with an existing knowledge base and wish to use the course to develop one particular area of interest through their study. You will know best how best to make use of the study materials to suit your own personal study needs.
Regular online tutorials (with a tutor and small group of other students) will support you in your learning. At the tutorials you will discuss course materials, plan assignments and share your experiences of practice in the field. The tutorials are a compulsory part of the course and must be attended. Your tutor will also give you individualised feedback on your draft work.
Study weekends at the University of Birmingham are arranged for September/October and March/April for all first and second year students. Attendance is required in the first year of study. Study weekends operate from Friday lunchtime to Sunday lunchtime. The first study weekend acts as an induction to the course. It introduces many of the ideas in the course and prepares you for the particular approaches to study. The second weekend offers a mix of lectures and workshops. In both weekends, it is a chance to visit the University, mix with students and tutors and meet autistic people who are able to articulate what their autism means to them.
NB. During the current Covid-19 situation, study weekends are being held virtually, combining 'real-time' lectures and tutorials with recorded sessions. These are deliberately planned over a series of days with gaps between scheduled sessions, in order to make them as accessible as possible for you.
Learning is assessed through a written assignment at the end of each module. The assignments for the first three modules of the course are essays, addressing an issue that is of practical and intellectual significance to you as a practitioner. You are expected to draw on the literature and your own experience to support your arguments. You will have a selection of titles to choose from and can also negotiate your own, with the aim of making the assignment as directly relevant to your own practice as possible. The third assignment in the first year is a project module in which you undertake and write up a piece of reflective practice. These first three modules form the 'core' and are compulsory for an award to be made in Autism (Adults).
Students who successfully complete three modules at Level H are awarded the Advanced Certificate in Autism (Adults). Students who successfully complete three modules at Level M are awarded the Postgraduate Certificate in Autism (Adults) or are permitted to proceed to a Postgraduate Diploma or MEd. The recommended route for the PGDip is a double (rather than single) project module, then the Inclusive Practice with autistic adults module, with an additional option to complete the course. The recommended route for the MEd is a double (rather than single) project module, then the Inclusive Practice with autistic adults module, followed by the (Practitioner in Education:PIE) research methods module and a 17,000 word dissertation.