BSc Education / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Current Issues in Special Educational Needs

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC33002
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


The unit will:

Explore the relevance of psychological theory for individual learning and assessment (drawing on developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, neuro psychology and social psychology – For instance, considering definitions of Intelligence and it’s measurement, cognitive & language development, etc)

Consider historical and social influences on how SEN is defined

Critically explore the value and use of diagnostic labels within educational settings (e.g. dyslexia, ASD, ADHD)

Each session will be accompanied by a small group seminar session, in which applied case scenarios are examined and discussed.



Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
The Brain goes to school EDUC13031 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Cognition & Learning: implications for school EDUC23022 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


The unit aims to:

Introduce the concept of special educational needs both within a legal framework and as a social construct to underpin how psychology can be used to identify types of SEN, assess individuals who may have SEN, develop supportive interventions that can be used in inclusive classrooms and use theory to support teacher training.


Learning outcomes

Category of outcome

Students should/will (please delete as appropriate) be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

Understand selected, significant psychological theories and research and their impact on educational practices related to SEN, its identification and interventions that support inclusion


Intellectual skills

Adopt a questioning attitude in the discussion of educational practice


Reflect on the implicit values underpinning particular educational approaches to inclusion or segregation

Practical skills

Use a wide range of resources to identify, select and organize psychological concepts and evidence to respond to problems posed within the course


Transferable skills and personal qualities

Demonstrate the ability to take initiative and conduct independent study on a specific topic within the psychology of education


Teaching and learning methods

Interactive lectures supported by discussion of selected readings and the University’s Virtual Learning Environment

Assessment methods

Assessment task


How and when feedback is provided

Weighting within unit (if relevant)



Students are to write a critical essay based on one type of SEN (e.g. ADHD, ASD, Dyslexia), explaining how the need is understood, what interventions has been approached, and assess the evidence for their effectiveness.





Online via TurnItIn




Feedback methods

Interactive lectures supported by discussion of selected readings and the University’s Virtual Learning Environment and seminars

Recommended reading


Armstrong, D., & Squires, G. (2015). Key Perspectives on Dyslexia: An essential text for educators. Abingdon: Routledge


DfE (2015) SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years. Available from   


Dickins, M. (2014) A to Z of inclusion in early childhood. London: Open University/Mc Graw-Hill Education. This is a book to dip into throughout the course.


Dyson, A., & Squires, G. (2016). Early School Leaving and Learners with Disabilities and/or Special Educational Needs: A Review of the Research Evidence Focussing on Europe. Brussels: European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education.


European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education (2012) Teacher Education for Inclusion - Profile of Inclusive Teachers available from


European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education (2015) Empowering Teachers to Promote Inclusive Education available from


Farrell, M. (2004) Special Educational Needs: A resource for practitioners London: Paul Chapman Publishers. This book is written under previous legislation in England, however, it provides a good overview of some of the tensions at play.


For extended reading around the system of SEND in England and government guidance see


Frederickson, N. and Cline, T. (2015) Special Educational Needs, Inclusion and Diversity (3rd Ed). London: McGraw-Hill Education.


ICF-CY.  Download from


Miles, S. and Ainscow, M. (2011) (Eds) Responding to diversity in schools: An inquiry based approach. London: Routledge. This book gives examples of practitioner based inquiry exploring how teachers respond to diversity.


Squires, G. (2012). Historical and socio-political agendas around defining and including children with special educational needs. In D. Armstrong & G. Squires (Eds.), Contemporary Issues in Special Educational Needs: Considering the whole child (pp. 9-24). London: Open University/Mc Graw-Hill Education.


Squires, G., & Dyson, A. (2017). Early School Leaving and Learners with Disabilities and/or Special Educational Needs: To What Extent Is Research Reflected in European Union Policies? Brussels: European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education.


Squires, G., Humphrey, N., Barlow, A., & Wigelsworth, M. (2012). The identification of Special Educational Needs and the month of birth: differential effects of category of need and level of assessment. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 27(4), 469-481. doi: 10.1080/08856257.2012.711961


Squires, G., Kalambouka, A., & Bragg, J. (2016). A Study of the Experiences of Post Primary Students with Special Educational Needs. Research Report 23. Dublin: The National Council for Special Education.

WHO (2007) International classification of functioning,

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Garry Squires Unit coordinator

Additional notes


Hours Allocated

Staff/ Student contact

10* interactive lectures @ 2 hours


Small group seminar: case scenario

10 sessions @ 1 hour


Preparation for seminar work


Private study, reading and assignment preparation


Total Hours



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