MEd (part-time)Autism

Why this course?

The MEd Autism is suitable for students looking to pursue part-time study in this area. It's ideal for those seeking a qualification whilst working that will enhance professional practice.

The MEd Autism provides a critical understanding of the conceptual frameworks relevant to understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This Master’s level course enables you to understand complex cognitive and affective theories essential to supporting the autism profile.

This knowledge will enable you to translate theory into practice and to critically evaluate evidence-based approaches to intervention. Our philosophy that autistic people require a holistic approach throughout their life journey means you can draw upon experiences of our multi-professional student cohort. Our students include leading professionals, students on the spectrum and those with dual professional-parental experiences. Your learning will be inspired from input provided by internationally respected autism experts.

Our multi-professional programme in autism is the first of its type in Scotland. The course is available part-time, both on campus and via distance learning, for:

  • teachers
  • medical & healthcare staff
  • educational psychologists
  • speech & language therapists
  • residential, community care or social work staff
  • voluntary sector personnel

The course aims to promote effective practice and develop empathy and understanding of the needs of individuals with autism and their families and carers.

Applications from parents, family members and individuals on the spectrum are welcome.

What you’ll study

Our MEd programmes are part-time over three years. You're expected to attain 60 credits per year resulting in 180 credits.

Year 1

You undertake three classes each worth 20 credits. Normally this will be one class per semester. For on-campus classes, this will involve attending three hours per week, delivered either in the evening or on Saturday morning.  In total each class should take 200 hours including self-study.

For distance learning classes, this will involve participating in weekly online seminars delivered via the University Virtual Learning Environment, My Place. The seminars are scheduled in the evening to accommodate working professionals.

Students who decide to complete their studies after one year will graduate with a Postgraduate Certificate.

Year 2

You undertake three classes each worth 20 credits.  This will usually consist of one optional class and two further compulsory classes including Research Methods & Reasoning. The compulsory class equips students with the necessary basis for undertaking a dissertation at Masters level.

Research Methods & Reasoning is delivered entirely online via the University Virtual Learning Environment, My Place, during semester 1.

As per year 1, students will normally undertake one class per semester. The expected study time is the same as in year one.

Students who decide to complete their studies at the end of year two will graduate with a Postgraduate Diploma.

Year 3

You’ll carry out a research dissertation in a subject area of your choice worth 60 credits. We'll allocate a supervisor for one-to-one support whilst you carry out and report your dissertation. 

You can complete your final dissertation by distance learning. This provides our students with the flexibility to complete their studies around work commitments.

Research projects

You’ll carry out a research dissertation in a subject area of your choice. Research projects can be undertaken within your place of employment, nationally or internationally. You'll be supported in your projects through University links with a range of organisations, such as Autism Initiative and Scottish Autism.

Programme leader

Dr Anna Robinson is the programme leader and advisor of studies.


The National Centre for Autism Studies

The centre has been responsible for a number of key policy and research outputs aimed at improving autism practice throughout Scotland. You’ll have access to these projects which include:

  • A National Training Framework for Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Dunlop, A-W & MacKay, T. A. W. N. (2004)
  • The Autism Toolbox: An Autism Resource for Scottish Schools, Dunlop, A-W., Tait, C., Leask, A.; Glashan, L., Robinson, A. & Marwick, H. (2009)
  • Policy into Practice: Accreditation Project Report. A Collaborative Autism Education & Training Project Supporting the Development of ASD Accreditation Standards for Trainers and Developing personal accreditation routes for ASD training participants, Dunlop, A-W., Tait, C. & Robinson, A. (2009)

Guest lecturers

We work with leading autism professionals to provide expert input throughout the classes.

Visiting lecturers include Professor Tommy MacKay who is a practising Educational Psychologist. In addition, Dr Mike McCreadie has a visiting role in the Pg Diploma class. He’s Consultant Clinical Director of Studio III and Lead ATLASS Trainer and his area of specialism is stress management in Autism.


Course content

Compulsory classes

Conceptual Frameworks in Autism

This class will introduce key conceptual frameworks in relation to understanding the impact of the spectrum of autism. Focus will be given to the uniquely differing social, emotional, sensory and cognitive profiles for those with an ASD. Understanding these conceptual frameworks will enable participants to reflect on how and why these influence and inform practice.

The Spectrum of Autism

You'll consider the issues that impact on practice when supporting individuals with an ASD with and without an additional intellectual or learning disability.  

Responding to the Impact of Autism: Approaches and Interventions
You'll consider the broad range of approaches to intervention, their application and theoretical basis and practical stance. A range of approaches will be systematically reviewed in relation to key features of their application, functional focus of the approach, the personal or interpersonal focus of the approach and the social context of the approach.
Emotional Wellbeing
This class is concerned with both theoretical and practical issues of understanding and responding to the emotional needs and resulting distress that having an ASD can cause and the stress it places on the individual.
Research Methods & Reasoning

This class provides support in developing a critical and informed understanding of research methods in relation to your own planned dissertation project. It also provides support in understanding research ethics and how they relate to your own research. It provides support in meeting the requirements of the ethical approval process.

Elective classes

Becoming a Trainer
This class is concerned with both theoretical and practical issues of understanding the importance of raising standards in ASD training and the impact this can have for the individual with ASD, their carers and the service provider.
Counselling Skills in Autism
This class provides an opportunity for those working in the field of ASD to develop their understanding and awareness of the relevance of counselling skills to their work with parents and carers and people on the autism spectrum. In addition it seeks to provide opportunities for participants to develop their individual competence in offering active listening skills to others, pre-therapy skills and counselling skills.

This class represents the application of the skills and knowledge you've gained throughout your study. You'll carry out and report on a research project in an area relevant to your MEd study up to this point. This class will provide support for the planning, implementation and writing up of a research project in a professionally and academically relevant area.

Learning & teaching

The course is taught through a range of student and staff-led research seminars that you’ll participate in.

For our distance learning delivery the student group will participate in online seminars. You’ll require:

  • access to a reliable computer with sufficient processing capability
  • an excellent broadband connection
  • the ability to run applications such as Adobe Connect, Adobe Reader, Flash Player, Java and Windows Media Player


The course is assessed through written coursework that draws on academic study and reflection on practical experiences in education.

Entry requirements

  • Undergraduate degree in a related discipline, or equivalent qualification and direct experience of living or working with individuals on the autism spectrum
  • Experience is essential as students must demonstrate theory to practice links
  • There's the potential for accreditation of prior experience. To discuss this route please contact Postgraduate Enquires
  • Applicants must complete a statement as part of their application detailing their experience of working and/or living with people with ASD

Fees & funding

All fees quoted are per academic year unless stated otherwise.


  • 2017/18 - £1,600

Rest of UK

  • 2017/18 - £3,000


  • 2017/18 - £4,500

How can I fund my course?

Fees for this programme can be paid each year of study and split into instalments.

For more information on payments please go to our tuition fees information page.

Check our Scholarship Search for more help with fees and funding.

Scottish students

Students living in Scotland can find out more about Postgraduate Loans from the Student Awards Agency Scotland.

English students

Students ordinarily resident in England may be eligible to apply for a loan of up to £10,000 to cover their tuition fees and living costs. 

Please note

The fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.

Contact us


Autism (distance learning)

Qualification: MEd, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: distance learning, part-time


Qualification: MEd, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: attendance, part-time

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