UCL Graduate degrees


Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia) MA

This leading programme in the field of dyslexia prepares teachers to critically evaluate and develop evidence-based practice to become specialist teachers and specialist assessors of learners with literacy difficulties. This programme is recognised by the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) and leads to Approved Teacher Status (ATS), Approved Practitioner Status (APS), and Associate Member of the BDA (AMBDA) and Assessment Practising Certificate (APC).

Key information

Programme starts

September 2021

Modes and duration

Part time: 2 years
Flexible: up to 5 years

Students are encouraged to apply via the flexible/modular route and complete over 2 or 3 years; though they have up to 5 years to finish if they choose. There is also a part-time route which is less flexible, with a completion time of 2 years; this option allows students to apply for a government loan. This option is only recommended for students taking the loan, as there is no flexibility to extend the time over 2 years. For loan students there are no exit points for a Post Graduate Diploma or Post Graduate Certificate and early exit may result in financial penalties. Part-time students pay for 90 credits each year, spreading all payments equally over the two years.

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 9 November 2020
Close: 31 May 2021
Applications may close earlier if all places on the programme are filled.

Tuition fees (2021/22)

£5,250 (PT)
£10,800 (PT)

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees. Part-time students undertake 120 credits in Year 1 and 60 credits in Year 2, but tuition fees are split equally across both years (90/90). Therefore, students withdrawing in Year 1 must pay additional fees for the extra 30 credits.


This course is accredited by the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) and associated professional practice qualifications are awarded by the BDA.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

A minimum of a second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university in a relevant subject, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard is required. A minimum of two years' teaching experience is also a requirement and ideally, appropriate experience of working with children with literacy difficulties. Students will need access to pupils under the age of 16 with literacy difficulties to teach and assess. Students will need DBS clearance for modules two and three and the research report.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

Visa information

This programme is not suitable for international students on a Student visa.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:

About this degree

Students will gain an understanding of how learners typically develop literacy skills and what happens when difficulties occur. Students will learn how literacy difficulties can be assessed and identified and how to develop a personalised support programme. As part of this programme students will learn to administer standardised psychometric tests (in their own educational setting), write full diagnostic reports and provide specialist teaching (in similar settings) for learners with literacy difficulties. Students will learn all the skills necessary to become a specialist teacher and assessor.

Students undertake 5 modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of five compulsory modules (180 credits) and the final module is a research report. The second (Evidence Informed Practice) and third (Assessment) modules are worth 45 credits each, as these modules involve additional professional practice elements. All other modules are valued at 30 credits.

Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MA in Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia).

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.

Compulsory modules

All modules are core to this Master's qualification

  • Understanding Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia)
  • Evidence Informed Practice: Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia)
  • Assessment of Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia)
  • Research Design and Methodology
  • Report on Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia)

Visit the UCL Institute of Education website for more information, including module descriptions, which can be seen by clicking on the module title.

Research project/report

All students completing the full Master's undertake an independent research project which culminates in a research report of 6,500 words (+/- 10%). The report is written over the course of the final year with support from a supervisor (days and times TBC by prior arrangement).


Students are required to work with children and young people up to the age of 16 to demonstrate core competencies of the programme. Additional learners under 18 may be allowed with permission of the Module leader.


Students must find and have access to pupils: we do not find placements for students. Approximately thirty hours of teaching intervention is required (with one or more learners) and students will also need to find three pupils they can assess.

Teaching and learning

We encourage students to study over 2/3 years via the Flexible/Modular mode. If you choose to take a government loan, you will need to complete your studies in 2 years part-time. This programme is delivered via a combination of face-to-face lectures (at UCL Institute of Education) and blended learning. Some modules will be delivered fully online. A range of assessment methods are used, including: coursework assignments, portfolio of evidence, recordings of administering assessments and teaching pupils, plus a research report.

Additional costs

Students can access loans of psychometric assessments from the department during the programme; students may want to purchase some of these for personal use whilst studying and after the programme ends. Prices will be provided during the programme. Please note purchase of tests is not a requirement.

This programme requires a completed DBS check for some compulsory modules. You will receive more information from UCL on how to complete the check once you have firmly accepted an unconditional offer for the programme. The DBS application cost will be covered by UCL, but offer holders will also need to have their ID checked and verified at a Post Office, for which they will incur a charge of £12.75. The offer holder is also required to arrange and pay for any overseas police check that may be necessary; costs vary by country. For more information about the DBS application process, please contact the Admissions team.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.


Part-time students may apply for the UK Government Postgraduate Loan. Visit the DfE website for information. Payments for the full Master’s are spread equally over the two years (students pay for 90 credits per year). Please note if a student leaves the course at the end of the first year, they will be required to pay the outstanding fees, as they will have attended the first 3 modules in year one (120 credits).

Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.

IOE Centenary Masters Scholarships

Full tuition fees and accommodation (1 year)
Based on both academic merit and financial need

IOE-Clarke Scholarships

Tuition fees, stipend, flights (1 year)
Based on both academic merit and financial need

IOE Windle Trust Scholarship

Deadline: 31 December 2020
Full tuition fees and some allowances (Up to 3yrs)
Based on both academic merit and financial need

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


This programme offers opportunities for students to broaden their career horizons within their educational settings and elsewhere. Our graduates are currently working within a wide range of areas: some as specialist teachers of children with SpLD (dyslexia), others as specialist teacher assessors; many combine both. This can be within educational settings or as consultants.

Graduates can also be found working as headteachers, special educational needs teachers, literacy lead teachers, special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCos), local authority advisors, university lecturers, disability advisors, workplace skills advisors, university study skills tutors, specialist AMBDA tutors and in research roles. Students have also set up in partnerships together or independently, running their own consultancies and tuition/assessment services.


Successful completion of the first two Modules enables to students exit with an award of Postgraduate Certificate with ATS/APS to support learners with dyslexia (up to the age of 18 years) as a specialist teacher/practitioner.  Completion of the first three modules enables students to exit with a Postgraduate Diploma with AMBDA qualification and an Assessment Practising Certificate (APC); allowing them to support learners as specialist dyslexia teachers and to undertake full diagnostic assessments (including reports for access arrangements and Disabled Students' Allowances) and to support learners as specialist dyslexia teachers. 

We encourage students to complete the full Master's and in their second year students will also develop their own research skills and are taught to utilise these skills in future practice.

Why study this degree at UCL?

This programme is taught by a range of leading researchers and professionals in the field of dyslexia. It uniquely offers a rigorous academic programme combined with professional practice qualifications, fully recognised by the British Dyslexia Association and taught at UCL Institute of Education, an internationally recognised university ranked as world number one for education (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021). Students have access to leading researchers in the field and opportunities to create their own piece of research supervised and guided by the Department of Psychology and Human Development. We encourage continued contact with our alumni students, who continue to attend professional learning networks that occur regularly during the year.

Critical engagement with current research and evidence-informed practice, supported by professionals and researchers, will enable the participant to reflect on their learning and enhance workplace practice.

Dyslexia is a 'high incident' need in schools (currently there may be as many as 3 or more learners with dyslexia in each class) and schools need to be able to provide appropriate specialist support. This highly regarded programme provides essential knowledge and practical skills and will hugely benefit any staff team as well as being a transformative experience for the individual student. This MA provides the understanding, knowledge and skills required to teach and assess children and young people with literacy difficulties and dyslexia.


This course is accredited by the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) and associated professional practice qualifications are awarded by the BDA.

Department: Psychology & Human Development

What our students and staff say

Student view

"I found the Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia) programme very rewarding: it challenged me to think about my teaching in new ways and I learnt so much that I wish I’d known earlier in my teaching career. The assignments were the perfect balance of academic knowledge and practical application, which really helped to reinforce my understanding of the theories of reading development and how this can be used to support students who are struggling with reading. I loved getting to study alongside lots of other teachers who all had different knowledge and experience. The course lecturers and supervisors were incredibly supportive and knowledgeable, always able to answer questions and giving guidance for assignments and doing it all with a smile!"

Catherine Trinder

Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia)
Alumni view

"Dyslexia has so many different components and I have enjoyed exploring each one through the various lectures, reports and practical assessments. The support offered and the opportunities the course has provided have allowed me to invest in my future career. Q&A with Sarah Muzzelle."

Sarah Muzzelle

Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia) MA (2018)

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Application and next steps


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding should take note of the funding application deadlines.

This programme only requires one reference in support of your application. Your reference should be academic unless you have been out of university education for more than four years. Further information regarding references can be found in our How to apply section.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.

Who can apply?

This programme is suitable for experienced teachers or teaching assistants (or others with a minimum of two years' relevant experience) with an interest in working with learners with literacy difficulties, and/or wishing to have the ATS, APS or AMBDA qualification that enables them to become specialist teachers or practising assessors with an Assessment Practising Certificate (APC).

Application deadlines

All applicants
31 May 2021

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia) at graduate level
  • why you want to study Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia) at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this challenging programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.

Page last modified on 28 August 2021