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) for Approved Teacher Status (ATS), Approved Practitioner Status (APS), and Associate Member of the BDA (AMBDA).

Covid-19 programme updates

Due to COVID-19, there may have been updates to this programme for the 2020 academic year. Where there has been an update, these are indicated with a red alert and a link which will provide further information.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2020

Modes and duration

Part time: 2 years
Flexible: up to 5 years

Students are encouraged to complete this programme over 2/3 years in flexible/modular mode, but have up to 5 years to finish. Students who apply for a government loan must complete in two years.

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 1 November 2019
Close: 2 September 2020

Tuition fees (2020/21)

£4,855 (PT)
£10,110 (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. Fees for flexible, modular study are charged pro-rata to the appropriate part-time Master's fee taken in an academic session.


Please note that whilst this course is accredited by the British Dyslexia Association (BDA), the BDA is not responsible for day to day running of the course. Any feedback or queries should therefore be addressed directly to the Programme Leader at UCL Institute of Education.

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. (There is an additional charge of approximately £65 if you need to obtain DBS clearance.)

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

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 Tier 4 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 identified and how to develop an individualised support programme. As part of this programme students will administer standardised tests (in their own educational setting) and provide specialist teaching (in similar settings) for learners with literacy difficulties.

Students undertake 5 modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of four compulsory modules (150 credits) and a research report (30 credits). The second (Evidence Based 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 Based Practice: Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia)
  • Assessment of Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia)
  • Research Design and Methodology
  • Report on Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia)

Optional modules

There are no optional modules for this programme.

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

Covid-19 module updates
Due to COVID-19, there may be updates to the modules for your chosen programme of study this year. Some modules may not be available or may need to be moved to a later term or year of study. These updates are relevant for 2020-21 academic year only.  The full list of modules will be available in the module catalogue from late August.  From the first week of September, you will be invited to complete module selection from Portico, our student record system. There may need to be additional updates or changes to modules during the academic year to allow for new guidance from the UK Government and Public Health England. Your department shall keep you updated of these changes as they become available.

Research project/report

All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a research report of 6,000 to 7,000 words. 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 under 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 face-to-face daytime lectures in year 1 and evening sessions in Autumn term year 2, at UCL Institute of Education. A range of assessment methods are used, including: coursework assignments, a portfolio, recordings of administering assessments and teaching pupils, plus a research report.

Covid-19 contact hours on campus
In Term One, while campus will be open, all the learning activity for the core content of your modules will take place online – including lectures, tutorials, seminars and assessments. By “core content” we mean everything you need to learn to complete the module successfully. Term Two will also be taught mainly online as UK Government safety guidelines limit the amount of ‘in person’ activity we can offer. However, there may be the opportunity for some face-to-face educational activities for students on campus, should the situation allow us to safely do so. We will keep you updated of these changes as they become available. Please be assured that the programme can also be fully completed remotely and we are committed to providing all students with a high quality experience throughout 2020/21.
Covid-19 assessment updates
There may be changes to the format of assessments for modules in this programme due to COVID-19. These will be summarised for each module on the module catalogue from 17 August 2020.   If any changes to assessments need to be made during the academic year due to updates in government guidance, these will be communicated to you as soon as possible from your department.    
Communicating further Covid-19 mitigation plans
We are continuing to follow UK Government guidance, as well as the expertise of our researchers, including specialists in health, education, human behaviour and infection prevention, to make sure UCL is as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. If it becomes necessary to make further changes to your programme as a result of new guidance/regulations, UCL and your department will communicate these as soon as this becomes clear. We will keep you up-to-date with our plans throughout term one, so you have the information you need to be able to take decisions that are right for your circumstances. Please ensure that you keep in touch with your department by regularly checking your UCL emails, Moodle courses, the Coronavirus FAQs for Students page and any UCL online groups or social media you follow.

Additional costs

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. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.


Part-time students may apply for the UK Government Postgraduate Loan.

Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.

IOE-Clarke Scholarships

Deadline Monday 25 May 2020 (5pm London time).
Tuition fees, stipend, flights (1 year)
Based on both academic merit and financial need

IOE-ISH Centenary Masters Scholarships

Deadline: Monday 18 May 2020 (5pm London time).
Full tuition fees and accommodation (1 year)
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, university study skills tutors, specialist AMBDA tutors and in research roles. Students have also set up in partnerships together running their own consultancies.


Successful completion of the programme will allow students awarded the Post Graduate Certificate with ATS/APS to support learners with dyslexia (up to the age of 18 years) as a specialist teacher/practitioner, and with the Post Graduate Diploma with AMBDA qualification, to both undertake full diagnostic assessments and support learners with dyslexia.

Students who complete the full Master's 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 2019).

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 course 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 course provides the understanding, knowledge and skills required to teach and assess children and young people with literacy difficulties and dyslexia.


Please note that whilst this course is accredited by the British Dyslexia Association (BDA), the BDA is not responsible for day to day running of the course. Any feedback or queries should therefore be addressed directly to the Programme Leader at UCL Institute of Education.

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 Muzzzelle."

Sarah Muzzelle

Specific Learning Difficulties (Dyslexia) MA (2018)

Subscribe to the StudyUCL YouTube channel to learn more about life and studying at UCL.

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.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £80 for online applications and £105 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: www.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
2 September 2020

Applicants must complete the SpLD application pupil access form and upload it with their application. Applicants agree here that they will have access to learners.

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 13 August 2020