Teachers of Children and Young People with Multi-Sensory Impairment (Deafblindness)

MA/Postgraduate Diploma

Start date
MA 3 years; PGDip 2 years
Course Type
Postgraduate, Continuing professional development, Distance learning

For 2024 - 2025
UK £4,200
International £7,770
More Fees and funding details.

Our programmes provide opportunities for professional development for those who want to make a difference to the lives of children and young people with multi-Sensory Impairment (Deafblindness).

Approved by the Department of Education and designed to fit around busy working lives, the PGDip / MA Mandatory Qualification for Teachers of Children and Young People with Multi-Sensory Impairment (Deafblindness) are blended learning programmes that enable qualified teachers (QTS or QTLS) to gain specialist skills and knowledge that make a difference to children and the adults who support them in the classroom. You will be able to work through online learning materials at your own pace and will be supported by both online tutorials and live lectures. There will also be two face to face study weekends that you must attend if you wish to gain the mandatory qualification. 

Please note: an alternative course (MA Education of Learners with Multi-Sensory Impairment/Deafblindness) is also open to teachers (as well as other professionals with appropriate qualifications) working with children and young people with multi-sensory impairments who do not wish, or are not eligible, to obtain QTMSI (qualified teacher of the deaf) status.

Why study this course?

  • The University of Birmingham has successfully delivered mandatory teaching qualifications in the three specialist areas for over 30 years and a high proportion of the trained specialist teachers in the field across the UK are our alumni.
  • The Department of Disability Inclusion and Special Needs (DISN) is currently the only provider in England (and the UK and Europe) in all three specialist areas. Therefore, one of the strongest aspects of our provision is the consistency and coherence of the structure and delivery of the sensory pathways.
  • The programme with its three sensory pathways exists within DISN with its strong international reputation for professional development, in a culture of research across inclusion, special education and educational psychology. You will be tutored by senior practitioners and researchers in your specialist area.

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


Those completing the MA (Mandatory Qualification) will need to complete all the modules below, worth 20 credits each and a dissertation worth 60 credits. 

Those completing the MA (Non-Mandatory Qualification) will study the same modules but they would not undertake the Effective Teaching of Learners with Sensory Impairment module which includes teaching placement. Instead, you will need to take the Inclusion: Universal and Specialist Approaches module from the MA inclusion programme

Unless indicated otherwise the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2024.

Assessment and Strategies to support MSI (Deafblind) learners

The processes of sight and hearing will be described to provide a context for accounts of functional sensory assessment and the interpretation of clinical assessment results. The use of assessment information to change practice will be explored in terms of developing optimal environments for learning. There will be an emphasis on the impact of the combination of both vision and hearing loss, and how the role of the MSI practitioner can seek to raise understanding of this and seek to overcome the unique barriers this combination presents. There will also be an exploration of the development of all senses for children with MSI (Deafblindness). 

Policy and SEND professional identity

This module has been designed to enable you to relate your experience to the overall developments in provision for children and young people with sensory impairment at both regional and national levels. A key emphasis will be on roles and responsibilities within the context of inclusion and the changing role of the specialist teacher and other professionals.

Multisensory Impairment (Deafblindness): A Unique Disability

On this module you will explore the nature and effect of deafblindness and multi-sensory impairment and its place in the Education context nationally and internationally. We will examine the approaches to developmental assessment and the range of needs associated with the disability, together with some of the major causes of multi-sensory impairment. The emphasis will be on supporting you to link your study and learning to your own practice in order to develop a toolbox of skills to support you directly, and to build capacity within your wider community.

Early Communication and Relationships

You will explore the principles which support the development of early communication in this module, which help you build the skills required to help those with MSI overcome the unique barriers to developing communication that vision and hearing loss creates. The emphasis will be on the knowledge required to support children, families, and other professionals in developing skills for learning, skills for building relationships, and skills for making needs known.

Social Development: Developing Confidence, Education and Wellbeing for MSI (deafblind) Learners

This module will look at how communication develops, and how it develops differently in learners with deafblindness, assessment and promotion of communication and language development, and responses to challenging behaviour. We will also examine the strategies for promoting interaction and for responding to challenging behaviour.

The emphasis here will be on communication as a pathway into learning and education, so this module will also focus on adapting environments and teaching strategies to support good communication where vision and hearing loss combine to affect access to learning. The module will explore the link between voice, independence and wellbeing, and there will be a focus on identifying and valuing the voice of the child or young person with MSI, and on strategies for supporting children and young people to have meaningful input within educational and decision-making processes.

Effective Teaching of Learners with Sensory Impairment (For the mandatory qualification only)

This module has a focus on practical skills across all standards and it includes a teaching placement. The aim of this module is to enable you to meet outcomes that can only be acquired, developed, and demonstrated within the classroom. The teaching placement, observed by colleagues working with learners with sensory impairment, will provide a valuable opportunity for you to develop as a reflective practitioner.

The module will include:

  • 15 days teaching practice to practise special skills teaching, with feedback and assessment based on the standards. You will be appointed a teaching placement supervisor;
  • reflective comments on visits to a range of settings/organisations with relevant foci e.g. clinics, schools, technology companies, therapy sessions;
  • a ‘portfolio’ in which you will present evidence of a range of relevant skills linked to the standards, including workplace evidence (e.g. specialist assessment, multi-agency working, working with families);
  • a summative assignment.

You will undertake the teaching practice in a setting other than your own place of work to gain a fuller picture of provision. 

Inclusion: Universal and Specialist Approaches (For the non-mandatory qualification only)

This module will consider the broad universal-specialist dimension and how this fits in inclusive of educational practice.

Key areas of curriculum, teaching strategy, educator knowledge, assessment and educational placement will be broadly mapped and you will be presented with analyses and evidence in relation to different SEND groupings as example case studies (as conceptualised in many educational systems), e.g. Autism, dyslexia, hearing impairment / deafness, emotional and behavioural difficulties, MSI, PMLD, SLD, vision impairment. The analyses form introductions to key aspects of these different groups (in relation to curriculum, pedagogy and educator knowledge), which also provide examples of broader inclusion debates, dilemmas, positions and solutions.

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.


Fees 2024 - 2025


Mandatory qualification

  • Code 197H PGDip £4,200
  • Code 198H MA £4,200

Non mandatory qualification

  • Code 208H MA £4,200

Non mandatory qualification

  • Code 208H MA £7,770

Fees for distance learning programmes are based on students studying 60 credits per year. The fees will be first year fees for students starting their courses September in 2024. The fees are fixed at this price for each year of study for the duration of the programme.

Additional expenditure

You will be required to cover any travel expenses and accommodation costs incurred during the programme.

These include travel to teaching placements, educational settings visits and to the University for on-campus study days.

For further information contact the School directly or the Student Funding Office via online enquiries

Scholarships and Loans

You may be eligible for a postgraduate loan which provides up to £12,167 (for 2023/2024 entry) 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

Applicants are normally required to have a first degree or diplomas or five years of relevant professional experience, training or other relevant qualifications.

In addition to the general entry requirements, applicants should have:

  • Department for Education (DfE) Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) or Qualified Teaching and Learning Skills (QTLS) status or equivalent. Submission of evidence for QTS/QTLS is mandatory for admission, along with documentation clearly confirming your Teacher Reference Number (TRN).
  • normally, a minimum of one year's teaching experience;
  • mentor support from a qualified teacher of children with multi-sensory impairment (Deafblindness); either paid employment, or a formalised volunteer role with a view to employment as a teacher of children with multi-sensory impairment (Deafblindness), in a capacity that involves regular and ongoing teaching of children and young people with multi-sensory impairment throughout the duration of the programme. 

Entry to the programme will be subject to a satisfactory Enhanced DBS check with barred list for children and adults.

Please note that for enrolment onto this course, Early Years Teaching Status does NOT count as qualified teacher status (QTS).

Programme staff will discuss the course with all suitable candidates.

International Requirements

International Students

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.

Our PGDip/ MA programmes are delivered and assessed online. Some activities are scheduled – like meetings with your tutor – but otherwise you can work through the online learning materials at times to suit you. Each module is broken down into weekly study units. And each week you'll have a mixture of reading, videos/recordings and interactive activities to work through. your own convenience. All you need is some time, and an internet connection.

We also know how important it is to provide you with opportunities to meet, collaborate and network with like-minded students. We do this in three ways.

Firstly, we provide a live online induction event when you join the programme. You will get the opportunity to meet the teaching team, fellow students and we'll provide a step-by-step guide to working through materials on your first module of study.

Secondly, in every module of study there are live (real time) opportunities to engage in module group work and seminars. This gives you the chance to discuss key topics, share your learning and to reflect on workplace experiences.

Thirdly, over the first two years of your study you will be required to attend four 2-day study weekends at the School of Education. The study weekends are a compulsory component of the course and attendance is a requirement. are held in November and May. Dates for 2023-24 are Saturday 11th and Sunday 12 November 2023 and Friday 10th and Saturday 11th May 2024.

How you will learn:

  • Interactive teaching materials and study skills resources available via our online learning platform            
  • Three live online tutorials per module within your own tutor group, hosted by a tutor experienced in your field of study      
  • A live workshop hosted by your Module Lead            
  • Access to our extensive online library, research materials and a vibrant community of students with shared interests         
  • Access to a range of other study and research activities hosted by our department and the School of Education. 

Time for Study

Your involvement on the course will require you to be released from some of your current work, and it will be helpful for you to consider carefully these issues with your line manager/sponsor.

The tutors strongly recommend that students are allowed a minimum of half a day per week for study and research.

  • Full participation in the Study Weekends requires attendance on both days
  • Teachers may require extended release for the 15-day teaching placement. An additional day may be required for a visit to the host school/service prior to commencing the practice. 
  • The time needed by you for study may decrease your ability to help with other types of activities. 

The MA/PGDip Mandatory Qualification for Teachers of Children and Young People with Multi-Sensory Impairment (Deafblindness) is ideal for teachers who are already qualified to teach school-aged children in England but require the mandatory qualification to achieve qualified teacher of children and young people with multi-sensory impairment (Deafblindness) from the Department for Education. The MA Education of Learners with Multi-Sensory Impairment (Deafblindness) qualification is suitable for professionals who do not wish, or are not eligible, to obtain qualified teacher for children with multi-sensory impairment (Deafblindness) status – for example lecturers of students with vision impairments and educational psychologists.

Many of those who have completed the course continue to work with people with multi-sensory impairment (deafblindness) and some continue or progress to influential roles in specialist MSI units, or as advisory teachers for pupils who are deafblind. Others take key roles in such fields as managing further education for learners with multi-sensory impairment (Deafblindness) in an LA or other setting, or go on to promoted posts in school or other management.