TE7046 - Understanding Autism

What will I learn on this module?

This module aims to engage you in a critical appreciation of the complexities of autism. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder, one of a number of early onset, overlapping lifelong disorders often with some degree of accompanying general or specific cognitive impairment. It can have a major impact on how people learn, interact and behave There is a genetic component, as well as environmental influences.
You will analyse professional or familial practice, including your own, and will evaluate the effect of differing perceptions, particularly the perceptions of people with a label of autism. You will learn that autistic people (term preferred by people on the spectrum) continue to grow and develop throughout life, and education in its broadest sense is the key to helping children and adults aim for a rich and rewarding life. You will learn about and evaluate concepts used to diagnose autism spectrum disorders and their impact, including how this has changed over time. You will develop an understanding of the psychological and cognitive theories of the causes of autism, including educational, social and medical factors and their impact. You will critically explore the impact of autism on the individual and her/his family and learning environment. In the teaching group you will articulate and evaluate the application of your learning and new understanding to the context in which you work or interact with autistic people.
You will be able to disseminate your knowledge gained through enquiry to an academic and professional audience

How will I learn on this module?

A variety of teaching and learning strategies will be utilised within this module that will reflect your developmental needs. These will include: lectures, seminars, group work, directed learning, independent learning, IT in Teaching and IT in Learning
Topic overviews and key concepts will be addressed in lectures, seminars and workshops where active and collaborative learning will be promoted in order to draw on the range of experience of the group and to allow individuals to contextualise new ideas and evidence into your own practice. There are no examinations, the course is assessed through assignments related to each of its modules. Participants are required to select a topic germane to their proposed area of study and/or their sphere of practice. The intention is that assessment will be both summative and diagnostic. It should provide a record of your learning achievements and indicate ways in which future development might be enhanced.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Support will include personal and email access to tutor throughout the semester and individual feedback on first draft as requested. Individual written feedback on assignment.
Small group seminars and tutorials. You will be encouraged to have contact with fellow students outside university hours.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Identify and critically analyse key issues related to autism spectrum disorders.

2. Discuss and critically evaluate existing theories on the nature and cause of autism.
Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
1. Identify and critically discuss the key diagnostic features of autism and reflect upon their implications for practice

2. Critically reflect on your knowledge of autism and its implications for continuing personal/professional development

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
1. Enhance communication skills both through your summative written work and your formative presentation
2. Enhance skills of critical reflection and problem solving in relation to autism and your practice/experience as part of your discussion in your summative assessment.

How will I be assessed?

Formative Assessment
A presentation on an aspect of autism
Feedback will be given verbally by tutor and peers

Summative Assessment
Your reflective assignment will be written as an analytical assignment, bringing together your learning about autism in this module. It will demonstrate enhanced development of knowledge, as reflection on your practice/experience and your own development of learning about autism.
MLOs KU1 & 2; IPSA 1 & 2, PVA1 & 5

Feedback will be written and graded against the criteria.


Students undertaking this module will normally have experience of working with children or adults with autism spectrum disorder in educational, health or family settings.


TE7075 Behaviour in Autism and Facilitation of Learning for those on the MA Autism only

Module abstract

Autism is a term used since the 1940s to describe a different developmental pattern that emerges in early childhood but persists into adult life. It can have a major impact on how people learn, interact and behave. This module aims to explore critically your understanding of the nature of autism spectrum disorders. Consideration will be given to the implications of autism for families and in the professional context so that participants will begin to interrogate professional or familial practice, their own and that of others. Autism is a lifelong condition as it is neurodevelopmental disorder. However, people with autism continue to grow and develop throughout life and education, in its broadest sense, is the key to helping and adults with autism aim for their full potential.

Assessment for this module requires participants to write a reflective assignment on an aspect autism and its impact on those who have autism, their family and in a professional context. This provides opportunities for study in depth, for the exploration of underlying cause and meaning and for the evaluation of the impact of disability. Consideration will be given to the political, ethical and professional contexts of enquiry.

Course info

Credits 30

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year Full Time

Department Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing

Location Coach Lane Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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