PgCert/PgDip/MA Specific Learning Difficulties

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Develop the knowledge and skills to become a dyslexia expert in a school.

This course supports teachers and professionals working in education to identify, assess, plan intervention for, teach and support students with specific learning difficulties (SpLD).

You’ll develop your understanding of the problems children and adolescents with SpLD in literacy experience. You’ll examine the debates about the nature and causes of literacy-related learning difficulties, such as whether dyslexia is inherited or what the term ‘dyslexia’ means.

You can choose to study for a Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert), Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) or Masters degree (MA) on this course. On our PgCert in SpLD, you’ll focus on becoming a good specialist teacher of children with dyslexia (up to the age of 18). On our PgDip in SpLD, you’ll develop your skills both as an assessor and a consultant. This means that you’ll gain the skills and knowledge to take on an advisory role. Our full MA in SpLD offers you the opportunity to conduct a small- scale research project in your own workplace. You’ll investigate an aspect of dyslexia you’re particularly interested in, and write about your findings through a dissertation.

Features and Benefits

Career Prospects

When you graduate, you’ll have the skills to be a specialist dyslexia teacher.

Some of our SpLD course graduates have developed careers as Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCO), heads of SEN departments in secondary schools, private assessors, deputy head teachers, local authority advisory teachers, and associate lecturers on SpLD courses.

If you’re hoping to support children with specific learning difficulties in literacy and numeracy, you could study for our PgDip Specific Learning Difficulties: Literacy and Numeracy. When you complete this award, you’re eligible to apply for ATS and ATS Dyscalculia from the BDA.

Learn more about graduate careers

Entry requirements

Applicants will normally need to:

*Applicants must have qualified at level 6 - a foundation degree does not meet our entry requirements.

Up to 60 credits can be claimed by teachers who have already undertaken a post graduate award in Specific Learning Difficulties that is BDA accredited at Approved Teacher Status (ATS) or Approved Practitioner (APS) level.

We will also consider applications from professionals in related fields, such as speech therapists, educational psychologists and occupational therapists.

Applicants should clearly state whether they have QTS on their application form as the award given by the BDA at the end of year 1 will be Approved Practitioner Status (APS) not Approved Teacher Status (ATS) for those practitioners. 

Overseas applicants will require IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 with no less than 5.5 in any category, or an equivalent accepted English qualification. Accepted English qualifications can be viewed here.

Course details

You’ll learn how to teach using a structured, multi-sensory approach, how to assess the abilities and difficulties of children, and how to create appropriate intervention strategies.

You’ll also learn how to write assessment reports, and advise and support both students and other teachers.

In years one and two of our Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) course, you’ll focus on developing practical skills.

You’ll assess and teach students experiencing specific learning difficulties in your own workplace. This supervised practice of teaching enables you to meet the requirements of the British Dyslexia Association (BDA).

In year one, you must assess one student, and teach for at least one hour per week for 20 weeks. In year two, you must assess three students and teach one student for at least one hour per week for 10 weeks. (The BDA stipulates that the majority of this teaching must be one-to-one, though they do permit a small amount of group work.)

Your assessment reports in year two must meet the SpLD Assessment Standards Committee criteria for Assessment Practising Certificate. (To support you to meet these requirements, we offer a number of optional assessment workshops at an additional fee of £75 per workshop.)

In year three of the MA SpLD, you’ll carry out a small-scale research project in your workplace. You’ll write about your findings in a dissertation of 15,000-18,000 words.

You’ll mainly have one-to-one tutorials to support you with your dissertation. We’ll arrange these at a time that’s convenient for you and the tutorials can be face-to-face, by Skype, telephone or email.

PG Cert, PG Dip or MA SpLD?

You can choose to study for a Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert), Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) or Masters degree (MA).

The PgCert carries 60 credits and we typically deliver the course over two terms, one evening per week (excluding school holidays).

The PgDip carries 120 credits and we typically deliver it over two terms (one evening per week) in year one and in year two, on four Saturdays in the autumn term and four Saturdays in the spring term.

To achieve a masters degree (180 credits), you’ll need to complete years one and two and write a dissertation of 15,000 - 18,000 words in year three.

Additional information about this course

There’s an additional, mandatory fee of £375 per year of study for the PgCert/PgDip SpLD.

This fee covers the observation and assessment of two one-hour lessons, two individual tutorials with AMBDA tutors, and support with report writing and lesson planning via feedback on drafts.

If you have any questions about this course, please contact the Programme Leader, Dr Dominic Griffiths: 

Postgraduate Certificate in SpLD

Unit 1: Nature, Assessment and Intervention

Unit 2: Intervention and the Practice of Teaching

When you successfully complete these first two units, you will receive a PG Certificate in Specific Learning Difficulties and be eligible to apply for Approved Teacher Status or Approved Practitioner Status (for those without QTS) from the British Dyslexia Association.

You may chose to continue onto units three and four to achieve the PG Diploma in Specific Learning Difficulties.

Read more about this year of study

Core Units

Specific Learning Difficulties: Nature, Assessment and Intervention

In this unit, you'll focus on the following topics:

  • Nature and definitions of dyslexia
  • Theories of causation, impact of environment and SEBD issues
  • Models of working memory and implications for learning
  • Informal assessment and screening; use of ICT in assessment
  • Models of reading development and assessment of reading
  • Miscue analysis of reading
  • Models of spelling development; assessment of phonological processing
  • Free writing analysis; assessment of spelling and handwriting
  • Writing informal assessment reports; introduction to structured, multisensory teaching
  • Writing Individual Learning Plans for learners with literacy difficulties
Specific Learning Difficulties: Intervention & the Practice of Teaching

In this second unit, you'll focus on understanding the nature of specific learning difficulties and the impact they have on learning, including self-esteem and motivation. There is particular emphasis on the use of structured multisensory language programmes. Including:

  • Principles of structured language programmes; alphabet work and discovery learning
  • Principles of multisensory teaching programmes; activities for developing fluency in reading
  • Multisensory routines and DVD of a multisensory lesson (secondary)
  • Memory training and strategies to improve recall; multisensory spelling techniques
  • Models of SEN and learning preferences; use of ICT in lessons
  • Spelling rules and choices; learning irregular/subject specific spellings, DVD of a multisensory lesson (primary)
  • Models of self-esteem, motivation in learning, problem solving approaches and metacognition 
  • Introduction to morphology
  • Introduction to phonetics
  • Specific learning difficulties in mathematics

Postgraduate Diploma in SpLD

Unit 3: Support for Learning: Management of SpLD from Early Years to GCSE

Unit 4: Legal Issues and Consultancy

When you successfully complete Units three and four, you will receive a PG Diploma in Specific Learning Difficulties and be eligible to apply for Associate Membership of the British Dyslexia Association (AMBDA) and for an Assessment Practising Certificate (APC).

You may choose to continue studying and complete your dissertation to achieve a full MA in Specific Learning Difficulties.

Read more about this year of study

Core Units

Support for Learning: Management of SpLD from Early Years to GCSE

In this third unit of the PG Dip SpLD course, you'll cover a range of issues related to the management of SpLD, from the accuracy of tests used to screen for dyslexia in the early years to assessment for special arrangements at GCSE. Including:

  • An introduction to psychometrics: reliability, validity, standardisation, confidence bands, standard error of measurement
  • Formal assessment of reading and spelling; evaluating standardised tests
  • Dyslexia screening tests and issues of early identification
  • Writing a diagnostic assessment report
  • Critical consideration of the concept of cognitive ability; assessment of underlying ability
  • Visual processing difficulties: implications for assessment, support and Access Arrangements; visual stress and reading comprehension
  • Access arrangements and current JCQ regulations
  • Assessment of cognitive processing and fine motor skills
Specific Learning Difficulties: Legal Issues and Consultancy

In this final unit of the PG Dip SpLD course, you'll focus on legal and professional issues related SEN and Disability including current legislation. You'll also consider wider aspects of dyslexia and co-morbidities, to enable you to act in a consultancy role. Topics may include:

  • Current legislation (e.g. Equality Act 2010, Family and Children's Act 2014, SEND Code of Practice 2015)
  • Consultancy, counselling and interpersonal skills
  • Dyscalculia and SpLD in mathematics
  • Dyslexia Friendly Schools and BDA Kitemark
  • Co-existing conditions: ADHD
  • Multilingualism and Dyslexia
  • Co-existing conditions: Dyspraxia/ Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)
  • Co-existing conditions: Autistic Spectrum Conditions


Once you have completed the units one to four, you'll be able to progress into the full MA in SpLD.

Your final unit and submission is a 15,000-18,000 word dissertation.

On successful completion of your dissertation, plus units one to four, you'll be awarded a full masters degree in Specific Learning Difficulties.

Read more about this year of study

Core Units


Consists of an 18,000-20,000 word dissertation on a subject that reflects your studies.

Assessment weightings and contact hours

10 credits equates to 100 hours of study, which is a combination of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, and independent study. A masters qualification typically comprises of 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits and an MFA 300 credits. The exact composition of your study time and assessments for the course will vary according to your option choices and style of learning, but it could be:


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Your studies are supported by a team of committed and enthusiastic teachers and researchers, experts in their chosen field. We also work with external professionals, many of whom are Manchester Met alumni, to enhance your learning and appreciation of the wider subject.

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UK and EU students

UK and EU students: Part-time fee: £1084 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU and Channel Island students

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Part-time fee: £2667 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional Information

A Masters qualification typically comprises 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits, and an MFA 300 credits. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of study provided the course is completed in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional costs

All of the books required for the course are available from the library. The University also has PC labs and a laptop loan service. However, many students choose to buy some of the core textbooks for the course and/or a laptop. Students may also need to print their assignments and other documents. Campus printing costs start from 5p per page. Estimated costs are £300 for a laptop up to £100 for books and printing. Total optional cost: £400

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Loans of up to £10,906 for many Postgraduate Courses

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Rewarding our graduates

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How to apply

The quickest and most efficient way to apply for this course is to apply online. This way, you can also track your application at each stage of the process.

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Application forms can be downloaded at or contact MMU Course Enquiries on +44(0)161 247 6969

If you are unable to apply online, you can apply for postgraduate taught courses by completing the postgraduate application form. There are exceptions for some professional courses – the course information on our on-line prospectus will give you more information in these cases.

Please note: to apply for this course, you only need to provide one reference.

You can review our current Terms and Conditions before you make your application. If you are successful with your application, we will send you up to date information alongside your offer letter.


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