Special Education: Autism (Adults)

MEd/Postgraduate Certificate/Advanced Certificate

Start date
MEd 3 years; PGCert 1 year; AdCert 1 year
Course Type
Continuing professional development, Distance learning, Taught

2021 - 2022
£3,420 (UK)
£9,510 AdCert (International)
£6,480 PGCert/MEd (International)
More Fees and funding details.

The programme lead provides an overview of the Autism (Adults) course

Our Special Education: Autism (Adult) course is part-time and delivered online, so that you can study from home alongside your other commitments. We have a proud history of using technology to deliver interactive learning in the most accessible ways to our students, across the UK and worldwide.

Our Special Education: Autism (Adults) course will provide you with knowledge of the autism spectrum, including Asperger syndrome, based on theory, research and practice. You will be taught to consider how autism theory applies to the individuals that you support in their adult lives, and what this should mean for your own practice. 

Autistic authors and researchers contribute to our study materials, so that you will gain insights into the diversity of the autistic experience, and learn about the range of individual and social barriers that can be experienced. The course will also encourage you think for yourself and you will use your professional skills to select and research topics of relevance to your own situation. 

  • The University of Birmingham is a leading provider of degree-level education in autistic spectrum disorders in the UK - offering Professional Development courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
  • Our distance learning courses develop real insight and encourage reflective practice. You will be tutored by senior practitioners and researchers in the field of autism inclusion who work within the Autism Centre for Education and Research (ACER).
  • You will have access to an extensive library, research materials and a large online community of students in the field of autism. 

The academic credits and qualifications on our part-time Special Education: Autism (Adults) course can be used as a springboard to further study and we accept both vocational and academic qualifications as entry criteria.

The Special Education: Autism (Adults) course has been approved by the British Psychological Society for the purpose of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

The british psychological society approved logo





The following qualifications are offered for this programme.


The Level H Advanced Certificate (AdCert) is the equivalent to the third year of undergraduate study. It is for those with certificates and diplomas eg: HND, NVQ level 4/5, Foundation degree. It lasts 12 months part-time and consists of 3 modules (Total of 60 credits). 


The Level M Postgraduate Certficate (PGCert) is a postgraduate award and it is available for those who have an honours degree (or equivalent). It lasts 12 months and consists of 3 modules (Total of 60 credits).


The Level M Masters of Education (MEd) is a postgraduate award and it is available for those who have an honours degree (or equivalent). The MEd is taken over 36 months part-time. It consists of 3 modules, plus 2 optional modules, PIE and a 15,000 word dissertation (Total of 180 credits).

The entry level will depend on your academic qualifications as well as professional experience. If you don't already hold a recognised degree, the appropriate level for entry will be the undergraduate level. However, you will have the opportunity to progress through to postgraduate level. 

We also offer a number of other programmes across a range of SEN and Inclusion that may be relevant to your needs.  

Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest updates and FAQs for future students and offer-holders

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Year one

Understanding and Working with the Continuum of Need (Core module)

Intervention, Support and Education (Core module)

A Special Studies Module 

What follows these modules in autism (adults)?

For those students studying at Level M for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Autism: Adults), if you have achieved good passes in your first two assignments, you can opt to progress on to the MEd/PGDip programme.

For those students studying at Level M for a Masters degree in Autism, you can then choose one or two other subject modules from another programme of study at the University, plus the research module PIE, to complete the 6 module requirement for the MEd, before your dissertation. The research module (PIE) prepares you for your dissertation of 15,000 words on a topic discussed with your regional tutor.


Fees 2021 - 2022


  • Code 2742 AdCert £3,420
  • Code 2822 PGCert £3,420
  • Code 2905 MEd £3,420


  • Code 2742 AdCert £9,510
  • Code 2822 PGCert £6,480
  • Code 2905 MEd £6,480

Fees for distance learning programmes are based on students studying 60 credits per year. The fees shown above are the first year fees for students starting their courses September in 2021. From September 2020 the fees are fixed at this price for each year of study for the duration of the programme.

Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships and Loans

You may be eligible for a postgraduate loan which provides up to £11,222 for courses starting on or after 1 August 2020 for taught and research Masters courses in most subject areas. This includes Distance Learning. 

Other scholarships may be available, please view the  Scholarships webpage in the School of Education. International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. More details may be found on the  international scholarships page.

For further information contact the School directly or visit the Funding, Graduation & Awards Office via  online enquiries. 

How To Apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

The level at which you study will normally depend on your previous academic qualifications and professional experience. For applicants who do not hold a recognised degree or equivalant, there are opportunities for you to progress through undergraduate and postgraduate study.

Speakers of English as a second language will be required to hold an IELTs 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in each band or equivalent qualification.

English language support

The Birmingham International Academy (BIA) provides free English language services to international students who are currently studying on undergraduate or postgraduate courses at the University of Birmingham. Services include Open-access English classes, online self-assessment, online materials through CANVAS, email answers to quick questions and individual one to one tutorials. 

International Requirements

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.

Find out more about the tutors

Study weekends

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 MEd. 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.  

All of our Special Education: Autism (Adults) courses fall under the umbrella of Continuing Professional Development. They are regarded as evidence of professional specialism for practitioners working in the field, in whatever sector. Anecdotally we know from feedback that many of our students gain promoted posts or other means of formal recognition as a direct result of their Special Education: Autism (Adults) qualification.

Testimonies from Former Students

“As a result of taking the course I am to be manager of a new 6 bed home for people with learning disabilities and autism and my recommendations are being used in design and interior of the house.”

“My job role is to train staff to work with people on the autism spectrum. My studies have increased my own knowledge and understanding and impacted on the training I deliver.”

“The course has introduced me to a vast range of important information and opportunities to develop my professional role. I feel I have a greater knowledge of autism and an awareness of how much I don’t know! It’s been inspiring.”


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