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Past Questions

  1. Hi, I am currently looking into online distance learning Masters and have looked at both the inclusion and SEN and the Autism courses. I currently teach in a SLD provision and would like to build on my academic qualifications. I have a degree in PE but now specialise in SEN. Which course would be the most suitable?

    Hi there, I am so sorry you are only getting a response now. I will still answer it in case the answer helps in some way.  I was a full-time teacher and also wondering which of the courses to choose this time last year. I chose the Special Education: Autism (Adults) course because it interested me most of all. This has made all the study time feel worthwhile and exciting and I am very motivated to learn more. My motivation was to learn about something that I did not know enough about.  All the courses will provide you with a lot more to offer your school, so make your choice of course one that links to your own passions. You must follow your interests, as you will be spending a lot of time studying. I hope this has been helpful.

  2. Was there a big transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study?

    I graduated with a BA (Hons) with Qualified Teacher Status in 1992. There have been huge technological advancements since then. Contact with tutors can be via email, tutorials are accessed online, and assignments are submitted online. Last time round I wrote everything by hand and cutting and pasting was not possible in the way it is now. Referencing took ages. It is a joy to be able to use my typing and computer skills now, and I am learning many new computer skills through the course too.

  3. How have you funded your postgraduate studies?

    I used my savings and also accessed the postgraduate student loan. I am now working as a relief support worker with adults and this helps to give a bit more security of an income.

  4. What was your motivation for undertaking postgraduate study?

    Much as I loved teaching I wanted to learn more, particularly about what needs, opportunities and options children with autism that I have taught over the years have in adulthood. I wanted to work and volunteer in services and clubs which support autistic adults, whilst having time also to read, think and learn more at a postgraduate level. This course was recommended to me and I embarked on this exciting journey into postgraduate study.

  5. What, for you, are the best things about the course?

    The course suited me in every way from the expertise of the people running the course, their experience providing study for students from around the world and in different parts of the UK, the ease of studying from a distance in the comfort of my own home, the study weekends and to the support given to us through our study materials, our tutorials and whenever needed.

  6. What has been the highlight of your time at Birmingham?

    I started the distance learning course in September 2016 and the highlight has been the study weekends. We have had two of these so far, and from 1pm on the Friday to mid-day on the Sunday our daylight hours have been filled with lectures and guest speakers – fascinating information, excellently organised weekend, smooth running arrangements. Time to focus, learn, think, question, talk. Accommodation has been arranged for us all at a hotel in central Birmingham and being able to have time to talk to others about the course, their work, their aspirations over breakfast and in the evenings has been so useful and interesting. I cannot recommend this course and the study weekends highly enough!

  7. What piece of advice would you give to anyone considering postgraduate study in your field?

    If you are reading this then you are clearly already interested. Take the first step, ask me some questions, consider how you can fit this course in with your current working life or change your working life if that suits better. Not only will you find out so much more about autism and be able to direct your focus to areas within this study that particularly interest you, but you will also find out a lot more about yourself by doing this course. It has felt like taking a deep breath of fresh air to take on a study that I am so interested in, to link it to my years of experience in teaching and to find out things I knew nothing about.

  8. I am considering participating in the Masters in Character Education program. I am a full-time teacher, with all the responsibilities that entails. I would be working full time and studying. I want to get a sense of approximately how many hours/how much time spent per week on assignments, readings and course work is involved? Thanks.

    What a great course you are considering - I have just looked it up and it sounds so interesting. I have just finished the first year of my 3 year Special Education: Autism (Adults) course. On my course there are a number of teachers and although it is an additional work-load and study-time needs careful planning, they do and have managed. I don't know what the suggested study time is for your course, but for mine I consider around 200 hours a term, including internet research, broad reading, practical experience in class/clubs, thinking and planning time,  and writing the assignments. If I was still a full-time teacher I would have planned to study and make notes for most of one day on most weekends and focused on my teaching commitments the rest of the time. Something has to give - for me that would have meant not doing my school prep on a Sunday. There are two 4000 word assignments in the first year of my course and as it was I used a week of the Christmas holidays writing up my thoughts and another week in early Spring  finalising the second one due. I hope this is of help to you. If your course interests you enormously it will make all the study time worthwhile and enjoyable.

  9. I have just graduated with a 2:1 in Learning Disabilities Nursing and I am currently working with adults with autism, I wish to further my knowledge but I am unsure which of the options available to take.. PGcert, PGdip of MEd? Any advice?!


    If accepted onto the course you could do any of the three - they are one, two and three years in length respectively. I am doing the three year distance learning MEd and loving it - so much learning, so much access to latest research and issues. Once the first year of study had started I gathered that there was opportunity for those who had decided to do the one year PGCert to change their direction and continue study to do their MEd, and I would think the same is true the other way round. So if you are unsure which to do, perhaps make the best decision for now and check with the course leader that there is the chance to change later. It would be a good idea to send an email or ring to have a chat with the course leader anyway if you haven't already as it will help to talk it through with her and see what is most appropriate to your requirements. . I found that most helpful to make up my mind what to do. Here are Andrea's details:  Dr Andrea MacLeod, telephone+44 (0) 121 415

    I hope this answer has supported you, please write again if I can help you further.

  10. I hold an MSc in Refugee Studies and for the last four months, I have been attending a day centre as a support worker. The centre host clients with adults on the autistic spectrum and learning disabilities. The short time I have spent with the staff and the clients has been an eye opener however I feel the need to pursue further my understanding of Autism. Will the MEd be the best route for me?

    Hi there. Yes! With your interest and your job I would think you will find this course very interesting, useful and helpful. Bear in mind you can go straight in to doing the 3 year MEd distance learning course, or you could sign up for the one or two year Postgrad certificate or diploma,see how things go,  and then possibly extend these to the MEd. The course is likely to fit in well around your working life and most certainly enhance your working life in your current field by providing you with further knowledge, tools, skills and contacts. I am now in my second year and am so pleased with the course and the study weekends - they really are fantastic with a great breadth of speakers and information given, thinking provoked and experiences shared with other students. I hope this answer is useful, please write back if I can help you with any further questions you have.

  11. Good day, Phillipa. I am a parent of an autistic child in Ghana. I hold a bachelors degree in Management studies. I want to enquire if I can pursue a course in Autism course. Is there any scholarship available for international students for these courses, PGcert, PGdip of MEd? I am very interested in the course. Thank you.

    Hello, it is lovely to hear from you. I highly recommend the course. I am on the Masters Distance Learning Course (Autism Adults).It is great to be able to work from home. I am near the end of my second year of the three-year Masters. There have been four study weekends at the University which are packed full of fantastic lectures and talks by a range of speakers. They are not compulsory to attend but are certainly very very worthwhile to attend if it is possible. There is so much to learn from others and it is also brilliant to have contact with other students, some who have flown in from other countries to attend the course. Many of the weekend talks are filmed and so they can be watched on the course web-pages by any students signed up to the course.

    You asked about scholarship availability. It is best you contact the university or the course leaders directly about that, although I have looked online and found the following site (Postgraduate Scholarship and Funding Database)that you might find useful in the first instance if you have not seen it yet.

    Kind regards, Philippa.

  12. I have applied for Autism (children) MED, (distance learning). The first residential study week is coming soon, however, I might not be able to arrange leave for the study week, I was wondering what are the contents of the study week? Would it be foundation information of Autism or in-depth discussion or lectures, such as, skills in diagnosing Autism, scientific understandings of Autism? Would my absence of the study weeks count towards a failing of my course? As I have been working closely with children with autism in my works, I wonder if I could still complete the courses if I have missed the study week. I suppose those who are studying the course full time in the campus will have to attend lectures weekly. As I am taking the distance learning course, are there video clips of the lectures where distance-learners can watch the online discussion with the regional tutors? As I have applied for MED instead of the postgraduate certificate of the course, would the content of the first two year be the same? What advice would you give if I would like to plan my time and study more efficiently for the final year dissertation before beginning the course?

    Hello there, thank you for your questions. My name is Philippa and I will try to answer  as many of your questions as I can. I apologise for the time I see you have had to wait for this answer to your question. First of all, a big congratulations on your decision to take up your Masters. I am entering my third year on the Autism (Adults) MEd course and still loving it. You asked about the study weekend. It is usually just from a Friday lunchtime until Sunday  lunchtime (1 p.m). There are speakers on autism from UK and elsewhere, our lecturers talk to us and there is time set aside for the first tutorial with your tutor. It is an absolutely informative, interesting  and useful weekend that really sets the scene for the rest of the course. The speakers are very up-to-date and you get a good feel of what is new in autism research and the directions that are being taken. Students have missed their first study weekend for a variety of reasons, or some have had to arrive later or leave earlier - all that is okay and it  does not affect your grades at all. When you get the invitation to attend you would just decline it. The weekend is there to be useful. If you can manage to go you really will not regret it - I found it very well organised and it was super to also have a chance to chat to other students on the Autism distance learning courses. In total there are four such weekends and I have now attended all in my first two years and am so glad I did. To have heard the variety of speakers and had the guidance from the tutors - it is like being at a conference. All speakers and tutors and students are put up at a hotel in Birmingham for the weekend (Fri and Sat night) if they want as part of the study fee (you don't pay extra) (rooms were great, meals included, no sharing rooms) and that is a further opportunity to immerse yourself in your study by talking to others or just having thinking time in your room or walking by the nearby canal.

    Like you I worked with children including those with autism before starting the course. The course itself and the information at the study weekend take you to many levels of understanding and thinking beyond that. The study weekend is definitely not a foundation in autism awareness but rather it recognises that all the students will work within the field already or be involved in some way.

    Yes, if you cannot make the weekend, you will still be able to see most of the speakers online, as sound recording and/or video is made of most of the lectures. And you would join online tutorials with your tutor after the weekend as part of  your study.

    The study weekends are for all those doing their online autism studies, whether it is MEd or Postgrad etc. The course material is the same in the first year and the second year, but the titles, content, demands and length of your essays will differ. You then work on your dissertation in your third year and there are no more study weekends in that year.

    Aha, your final question was about advice planning your time and study for the final year dissertation. Well, in the last study weekend (near the end of second year) two students spoke to us. They had just completed their dissertation and they shared with us how they did it time-wise. One student allowed an hour every day to work on it, the other worked more in batches of time. Both were in full time employment i think. I am just beginning my dissertation now. Although I have had in mind some ideas that  I wanted to consider for my dissertation, some of these ideas were answered in the course of my study and so I really only came to my current decision a few months ago. As part of the preparation we need to submit plans about what, why, when, how we will do our project. This includes creating a timetable covering the twelve months of the dissertation. In my case I am going to work on parts of it at a time. For instance the literature review has been allocated two months by me. The research preparation has a month. There is specific guidance on the Birmingham study site (Campus)  as to how to plan for this and there are student examples there, too. In terms of research subjects, that is a long way off for you, so you maybe need to enjoy the study in the first year and then you will become much clearer on the directions that really interest you.

    Well, this was a long answer, and I do hope it has helped. Please send more questions any time! I apologise again for the long wait.

    All the very best, Philippa

  13. I am from Greece and I have a 4 year undergraduate degree in special education back in Greece and I am interested in ISEN, SPMLD, Autism(children) postgraduate programmes which are distance learning. I am looking forward to taking the MEd and I would like to ask if PgCert, PGDip and MEd take all together 3 years or if I have to apply only for the MEd which takes 3 years? Is there a scholarship for distance learning students who are from Europe? For each year, do we pay the fees which belong to each year or do we pay the fees of all the 3 years at the beginning of our studies? Is there an opportunity to pay a part of the fees of each year per month? Thank you for your time.

    Hello, thank you for your email. I am now in my third year of the distance learning MEd Special Education: Autism (Adults) and loving it! Really great study weekends, great to meet distance learning students from around the world and great tutors. I hope you enjoy your course if you decide to apply!

    In answer to your questions:

    Yes, you would apply only for the MEd if that is what you intend to do, and that takes three years on the distance learning route.

    Yes, for each year you would pay the fee in advance that belongs to that year. We usually pay in October. I paid my fees last week for the coming year in one payment, but I did see that I was given an  option to pay termly or by monthly instalments split over October to May. You could check what the options for you would be by emailing  Alternatively take a look on

    Your question about scholarships I found harder to answer. I think it may be best if you contact the University direct about that one. I have looked up some links but without knowing more about your situation it is hard to know what will fit. Here are some of the links anyway, in case you want to look at them first.     (list of awards on offer for EU students) /funding/index.aspx   (loans, charities and Trusts)

    If you contact the University direct about this question you might start by asking at the if they can signpost you to the information they need.

    I wish you all the very best, and please write to me again if  I can help in any other way. Best wishes, Philippa