Special Educational NeedsUCAS Code: Combined Honours only – see combinations tab|Duration: 3 years|Full Time|Hope Park|UCAS Campus Code: L46
Work placement opportunities|International students can apply|Study Abroad opportunities
About the course
Special Educational Needs (SEN) at Liverpool Hope University is an interdisciplinary subject underpinned by the work of the Centre for Culture and Disability Studies (CCDS). Studying Special Educational Needs at Liverpool Hope University will enable you to develop an understanding of the complex relationship between disability and society. You will explore the ways that disability studies can inform our understanding of the medical and social models of disability and learn the importance of this in working with children with so-called special educational needs. The degree incorporates insights from education, the arts, humanities and health care, to ensure you gain a critical understanding of the relationship between disability and education.
A central aspect of the course is an understanding of medical and social constructions of Special Educational Needs from a historical as well more recent perspectives. You will gain a knowledge and understanding of the importance of cultural representations in shaping individual and societal relationships with disability.
By completing this degree, you will have gained an awareness of global perspectives on disability studies, inclusion, education and society as well as an understanding of the role of disabled people as activists working for equality. This degree will enable you to develop your professional and personal confidence in advocacy and education. You will enter your professional life recognising the importance of criticality, compassion and understanding of your work with, and on behalf of, those who are disabled and/or identified as having a special educational need.
Teaching on this degree is structured into lectures, where all students are taught together, seminars of smaller groups, and tutorials which typically have no more than 10 students. You will also use the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Moodle and will have a one-to-one meeting with your tutor each week.
For the Special Educational Needs part of your Combined Honours degree, in your first year of study there are approximately 6 teaching hours each week, which reduces to approximately 5 teaching hours in your second and third years. On top of teaching hours, you are also expected to spend 12-14 hours studying independently each week, as well as studying in groups to prepare for any groups assessments that you may have.
Assessment and feedback
Throughout your three years of study you will have a number of assessments, including a portfolio, essays, written exams, posters, an annotated bibliography, journal analysis and information pack. In your final year you complete a dissertation research project.
You will receive formative and summative feedback. This will include written feedback with opportunities for a one-to-one discussion of feedback with your tutors.
The first year provides you with a knowledge and understanding of the key ideas in Disability Studies that you will bring to your study of Special Educational Needs. You will study:
Disability and History
This will enable you to develop an understanding of the relationship between disability and society and the different ways that this has been understood over time. It includes a brief overview of early historical representations of disability but focuses most significantly on the emergence of categorisation and institutions in the nineteenth century as a basis for understanding contemporary ideas about Special Educational Needs.
Disability and Culture
This key focus in your first-year course relates to the ways that disability is represented in culture. This addresses important ideas regarding the ways social attitudes towards disability can be challenged or reinforced through, for example, media representations and opens up important ideas about the relationship between pity, charity and disability.
Disability and Normalcy
Here you will start to consider the concept of ‘normal’ examining the ways that this idea has emerged. You will explore the importance of language and labelling, identity and prejudice, medical diagnosis and the relationship between race, gender and the label of Special Educational Needs.
Disability & Life Course
This aspect of the course will encourage you to explore disability in early years, disability and youth, adulthood and in later life and old age. This will deepen your understanding of the relationship between disability and education throughout the life course.
Disability and Diversity
Here you will continue to consider the ways that we conceptualise the body, the mind, learning difficulties and sensory impairment. Whilst this offers an insight into the ways that these areas are defined in relation to categories of Special Educational Needs, the work goes further to explore disability as a lived experience.
Social Theory of Disability
The second year of your course is underpinned by the social model of disability. You will develop an understanding of the significance of this in terms of theory and practice in relation to Special Educational Needs.
Exploring Diversity, Disability and Education
Next you will explore and apply the social model to thinking about neurodiversity, Profound and Moderate Learning Difficulties (PMLD), sensory and cognitive diversity and ideas about bodily difference.
Exploring Professional Values and Attitudes
The relationship between embodied and professional knowledge forms an important core for this section of the course. The ethics of professional practice will be explored with reference to a range of educational contexts and professional roles and practice-based research.
This final element of your studies engages with ethical and philosophical as well as practical dimensions of researching disability. You will study the importance of lived and embodied experience and methods and approaches for emancipatory and participatory forms of research.
Theories of Disability
Your final year begins with a study of contemporary work in disability studies and includes a study of critical disability theory, ableism/disablism neo-liberal ableism, knowledge and power and the subject, disability and surveillance, race and ableism, the Tripartite model, appreciation and affirmation and crip theory.
Here you will explore a range of ideas that enable you to take theory to a consideration of inclusive practice. The key work covered here relates to: cultural inclusion, inclusion and inclusive education, inclusive/exclusive policy, transformability, Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning.
Disability and Ethics
This final theme offers important insights into the relationship between disability and ethics including the following topics: disability ethics and technology, ethics of intervention including medical intervention and ethics of choice.
In addition to this course of study, you will identify an aspect of study related to Special Educational Needs and develop a piece of independent research into your chosen area.
The following courses are available as Advanced Research Courses. You will choose two from the following:
Neither seen nor heard listening to the stories of marginalised young people
Despite increased recognition of the importance of seeking the perspectives of young people there remain a significant number whose stories remain untold. These include young people who have been excluded, medicalised, contained, and segregated. During our sessions we will explore the social structures that surround children and young people and how they work to silence their voices. By drawing on creative and participatory methods we will explore how young people can be empowered to share their stories. We will also reflect on the challenges of ensuring young people’s voices are heard by the adults who surround them.
Mad, Bad and Sad: The Medicalisation of Human Emotion and Behaviour
This course aims to explore the increased pathologisation and psychologisation of human emotion and behaviour. You will consider the history of emotions and how as a society we have come to conceptualise some emotions and behaviours as excessive, deficient or deviant. Furthermore, you will examine how we have come to try and regulate such emotions and behaviours through medical surveillance and pharmaceutical intervention.
Researching the Cultural History of Learning Disability
In this cultural history of learning disability, the emphasis is not on what certain people are or are not learning, nor on what anyone’s particular difficulties with learning are perceived to be. Rather, the emphasis is on the role “learning disabilities” play in society. In other words, a cultural approach is concerned with the way people said to have learning disabilities have been conceptualized, spoken about, and interacted with, and with the relational and environmental factors contextualizing and shaping these practices. We will investigate the way intersecting discourses of medicine, education, media, law, economics, colonialism and eugenics brought the phenomenon of Learning Disability into being in the 19th Century, and continue to influence discourse in the present day.
Metanarratives of Disability and Assumed Authority
The inequity of the normative social order is profound. When out and about, many disabled people know only too well what it is to be erroneously told the error of their ways by passers-by, assumed authority often cloaked in helpfulness and accompanied by multiple variants of virtue signalling. Although support, assistance, and indeed helpfulness are all sometimes desired if not required, those things are distinct from assumed authority so widespread that it even extends into the workplace, home, and so on. This being so, benefiting from the knowledge of a colleague becomes a matter of inclusion; enjoying the company of a friend becomes complicated by notions of duty; and sexual attraction becomes haunted by the spectre of charity. All of these things are enforced by the metanarrative of disability that will be deconstructed in this research seminar.
Disability Rights, Chronic Illness and Chronic Pain
This seminar focuses on understanding the socio-political and cultural forces that shape the experience of chronic illness and chronic pain in the context of disability rights. It draws from contributions in disability studies, health and social care and the sociology of health and illness to explore the barriers experienced by people living with chronic illnesses, for instance in education, health and social care and employment, and investigate how these can impact on people. Students will also explore an intersectional approach that will help them investigate how these lived experiences can be shaped, for instance, by ableism, racism and sexism.
Disablement & Time
Issues of accessibility, exclusion and disablement have traditionally been conceived and discussed in spatial terms. In this series of seminars, we will be exploring temporal forms of disablement -- ways in which people can be disabled by the regulation and standardisation of time, and by the imposition of rigidly constructed social and institutional timeframes. The sessions are underpinned by two theoretical approaches: 1) Chrononormativity – a normative approach to the regulatory value of imposing timeframes; and 2) Arrhythmia – a component of Rhythmanalysis - to evaluate the forms of disablement that arise when the rhythms and time-related expectations conflict with the preferred and natural rhythms of the inhabitants of those spaces.
Researching the representation of disability in popular culture
This seminar series explores the use of cultural disability studies theory, concepts and methods in research surrounding disability and popular culture. Students will develop in-depth knowledge of key issues relating to the portrayal of disability in various forms of popular culture (such as television, advertising, film and popular music) and ways of examining these issues within research. Students will learn about the role disability studies has in promoting critically informed responses to the representation of diversity in popular culture, and will explore connections between disability studies and cultural studies.
Disability Studies, Arts and Education
Within education, the arts can offer distinctive and alternative modes of learning through and with materials as well as via collaboration and engagement with critical social practice. As a result, they are frequently cited for their inclusive potential. However, educators must also adhere to reductive systems and practices in Special Education that require disabled children and young people to be identified categorised and labelled because of perceived individual deficit. This course will enable you to apply current research in disability studies and practice in disability arts in order to examine these tensions in current policy and practice in arts and education. You will work with contemporary examples from disability arts to explore complex and productive readings of the relationship between disability and education, recognising the creative potential that disability brings to learning with and through the arts.
Disability and the Built Environment
This course will focus on how disability is socially constructed. It will question body size as a disability in order to criticise stereotypical perceptions of disability, and aid in broadening a student’s understanding of disability. It will engage with neoliberalism to critique the implementation of minimal accessible spaces within the built environment and demonstrate how there is a hierarchy of disability based on normative assumptions. It will critique neoliberal practices which are evident in disability access legislation and policies. It will introduce Universal Design to help students to question how the built environment can be made to accommodate all and this will be demonstrated within their assessment.
During the August/September admissions period we are able to offer some flexibility in our entry requirements for courses that still have vacancies.
We are also offering a Foundation Year on many of our courses for students who have the ability and enthusiasm to study for a degree, but do not yet have the qualification level to enter directly onto our degree programmes.
Please call us to discuss the options available to you: 0151 291 3636
Graduates of this degree have the opportunity to pursue a range of professional qualifications in education both within schools and in other settings. Many students choose to progress to a PGCE course at Liverpool Hope University to train as a teacher, or continue their studies through a number of Masters available at the University, including an MA Disability Studies. Students may also progress to a postgraduate qualification in social work or our MA in Youth and Community Development.
The degree can also inform your future role as a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO), an Inclusion Support Co-ordinator, Behaviour Support Worker or Learning Mentor. In addition, this course offers opportunities for employment in areas such as disability inclusion and as a disability support worker.
Study in Special Educational Needs is also highly relevant to those who wish to work in community or charitable organisations.
The Service and Leadership Award (SALA) is offered as an extra-curricular programme involving service-based experiences, development of leadership potential and equipping you for a career in a rapidly changing world. It enhances your degree, it is something which is complimentary but different and which has a distinct ‘value-added’ component. Find out more on our Service and Leadership Award page.
As part of your degree, you can choose to spend either a semester or a full year of study at one of our partner universities as part of our Study Abroad programme. Find out more on our Study Abroad page.
The tuition fees for the 2023/24 academic year are £9,250 for full-time undergraduate courses.
If you are a student from the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, your tuition fees will also be £9,250.
The University reserves the right to increase Home and EU Undergraduate and PGCE tuition fees in line with any inflationary or other increase authorised by the Secretary of State for future years of study.
On top of tuition fees, you also need approximately £200 to purchase key textbooks and to cover the cost of any fieldtrips.
You will also need to consider the cost of your accommodation each year whilst you study at university. Visit our accommodation pages for further details about our Halls of Residence.
We have a range of scholarships to help with the cost of your studies. Visit our scholarships page to find out more.
International tuition fees
The International Tuition fees for 2023/24 are £12,500.
Visit our International fees page for more information.
This course is also available as a Combined Honours degree with the following subjects: