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Online study


Critical International Perspectives on Special and Inclusive Education


Explore the concepts of inclusion, disability, difference, and diversity from a range of perspectives. This course will introduce you to different models of inclusion and specialised provision in education, including legislative frameworks and provision in a range of cultures and countries.

This course is suited to:

Critical International Perspectives on Special and Inclusive Education is aimed at teachers, lecturers, administrators, education advisors, and other related professions. This course helps students develop critical awareness of socio-political, economic and cultural barriers to the development of inclusive systems.

What will I learn?

This course looks in depth and with a critical perspective at the key concepts, theories, aims, values and practices involved in special and inclusive education within a variety of international sociopolitical and historical contexts.

The concepts of inclusion, disability, difference and diversity will be examined, and a range of sometimes contradictory perspectives will be introduced, questioning to what extent these perspectives can be reconciled or not. Understandings and provision in relation to special and inclusive education in different countries will be considered.

Students will be encouraged to reflect upon the development of special and inclusive education systems in their own countries as well as considering a range of international and global perspectives.

Learning outcomes

  • Identify, and demonstrate a critical understanding of key concepts that underpin understandings of inclusion and special educational needs (e.g. disability, difference, diversity, rights, capabilities)
  • Compare and contrast different models of inclusive and special education provision and international comparative frameworks of inclusion
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of legislative frameworks and provision in relation to inclusive education systems internationally, as well as a critical awareness of socio-political, economic and cultural barriers to the development of inclusive systems
  • Critically evaluate the similarities and differences between different stakeholder perspectives and evaluate the implications for research and practice
  • Consider and critically engage with ideas concerning the relationship between the theory, research, policy and practice in inclusive and special education
  • Compare and contrast different perspectives regarding the values and conceptions of inclusive and special education
  • Critically reflect upon and evaluate your own (and others) understandings of current issues and debates regarding different models of inclusive and special education
  • Problematise theoretical understandings and enacted practice in terms of disability/difference/special educational needs/inclusion
  • Synthesise and organise ideas to present an argument, demonstrating critical and analytical thinking
  • Construct organised, structured, critically reflective and analytic writing
  • Present ideas and engage in critical reflective debate
  • Undertake both directed and independent study to recognise, justify and analyse key ideas in the literature and relate these to research, theory, policy and practice

How is the module assessed?

Assessments % Length/Duration
Essay 0 750 words
Essay 90 5,250 words
Engagement log 10 500 words

For this course, you should expect to engage in structured learning activities for 10-15 hours per week on average, plus additional time spent on self-directed learning (such as further reading or preparing for assessments).

The taught course can be completed in 12 weeks, with the final submission in week 11. Marking and feedback are provided after this, in line with University policy.

Module staff

Silouette of person

Dr Alison Black
Associate Professor of Inclusive and Special Education

Silouette of person

Dr Simon Hayhoe
Associate Professor of Special Educational Needs, Disability & Inclusion

Entry Requirements

For postgraduate programmes we usually require students to have a minimum of a 2:1 undergraduate degree or equivalent.

While we normally only accept applicants who meet this criteria, if you have a high 2:2 (or equivalent) or are coming from a different academic background (that is equivalent to degree level) but you also have relevant work experience, we would welcome your application.

English language requirements

International students need to show they have the required level of English language to study this course.

The required test scores for this course fall under Profile B2.

 September 2024



Apply now

  •  12 weeks (plus assessment and feedback)
  •  10-15 hours per week on average
  •  30 Masters level credits