University of Portsmouth

Degree level: Postgraduate

Psychology and Learning Disability (Distance Learning) (Taught)

Course options

Make sure you check on the university, college or conservatoire website for any updates about course changes as a result of COVID-19.

Course summary

Overview This Master’s course looks in detail at learning disability, neurodiversity and autism from a psychological perspective. Studying contemporary practices, critical theories and case studies, you’ll investigate how neurodivergent and learning disabled people can be best supported in healthcare, education and workplace settings. Whether you're currently working with people with learning disabilities or you've recently graduated and you're looking to get started in this field, this MSc Psychology and Learning Disability degree is designed to provide you with the skills and knowledge to develop your career and become a specialist. It’s a part-time, distance learning course, which allows you the flexibility to fit your studies around work commitments. In Year 1, you’ll study modules that cover the core issues, and in Year 2 you’ll focus on your own research project with support from our expert tutors. Psychology at the University of Portsmouth is ranked 5th of all post-1992 universities for research quality as prt of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021. Eligibility This course accepts UK, EU, and international students. Course highlights

  • Join one of the few Master’s programmes to study learning disability, neurodiversity and autism from a psychological perspective, as opposed to a nursing perspective
  • Learn about the role that psychological methodologies and analytical techniques can have in the planning and delivery of learning support at an individual and organisational level
  • Increase awareness and understanding in the sector and beyond, about the positive role of psychology and psychotherapy in the study of learning disability
  • Complete an individual research project on a topic of your choice. Each year we present the Sue Buckley Award – named after our esteemed Emeritus Professor of Development Disability – for best project
Careers and opportunities If you’re working in education or learning support, or if you’re already specialising in learning disability or developmental needs, this course will help you develop personally and professionally, introducing new ways to design and deliver services to individuals with developmental disability. If you have a British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited BSc in Psychology, you could apply to do a taught doctorate in areas such as Educational Psychology (EdPsychD) or in Clinical Psychology (ClinPsychD) once you've successfully completed your Master’s. Graduates of this course have gone onto roles such as:
  • Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) co-ordinator
  • SEND teacher
  • Student services officer
  • Enablement Leader
  • Support worker
  • Community care worker
Graduates of this course have gone on to work for:
  • Schools
  • Academy trusts
  • Local education authorities
  • Healthcare
Career outcomes shown are sourced from the latest available graduate outcome surveys. The data shows career outcomes at 15 months after graduation. Career planning During your course you'll have expert career support from your tutors and our Careers and Employability Centre – which you can access for up to 5 years after you graduate. Course structure One of the big benefits of being a part-time student and a distance learner, is that you can be flexible with your studies. You'll get the most from the course by attending as many live, online sessions as you can, but all the sessions are captured and uploaded to your virtual learning environment for you to view in your own time. You can expect:
  • up to 10 hours per week engaging with the core course materials and attending online sessions (roughly, one lecture, seminar, workshop or tutorial every two weeks).
  • up to 10 hours of independent study each week.
  • all core course materials available online at all times so you can create your own study schedule around work or other commitments.
  • timetabling advice to manage your time.


Year 1

  • Psychology and Learning Disability: Core Issues – 30 credits
  • Critical Intellectual Disability Studies – 30 credits
  • Autism Spectrum Conditions – 30 credits
  • Neurodiversity Studies – 30 credits
Year 2
  • Quantitative, Qualitative and Literature Based Research – 15 credits
  • Psychology Project by Distance Learning – 45 credits
All modules on this MSc Psychology with Learning Disability course are core. Visit our course page for full module details. We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies. Therefore, course content is revised and regularly reviewed. This may result in changes being made in order to reflect developments in research, learning from practice and changes in policy at both national and local levels.

Assessment method

You'll be assessed through:

  • essays
  • critical reviews
  • presentations
  • data analysis and reports
  • literature reviews
- a research project

Entry requirements

Eligibility This course accepts UK, EU, and international students. UK qualifications Applicants should normally have or expect to obtain at least an upper second class honours degree in Psychology or closely related subject that is recognised by The British Psychological Society as conferring Graduate Basis for Chartered membership (GBC). Applicants from other degree subjects containing a significant element of psychology, may also be considered on a case-by-case basis. Non-UK qualifications If you're applying as an international student with a non-UK degree, view the equivalent entry requirements we accept for your country: English language requirements English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 (or equivalent) with no component score below 6.0.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

EU £6600 Year 1
International £6600 Year 1
England £6600 Year 1
Northern Ireland £6600 Year 1
Scotland £6600 Year 1
Wales £6600 Year 1
Channel Islands £6600 Year 1
Republic of Ireland £6600 Year 1

Additional fee information

Students who are resident in EU countries: please note that the net fee is inclusive of the Transition Scholarship. Fees are accurate at the time of publishing and are subject to change at any time without notice. Fees may also go up in later years, in line with inflation. For more information about fees, go to
Psychology and Learning Disability (Distance Learning) at University of Portsmouth - UCAS