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Masters in Education (Special Education)

Course Strand Leader | Dr Joanne Banks

The Master in Education (Special Education) is aimed at educators working with children and young people in early years settings, primary and post-primary education who wish to respond to the increasing developmental and cultural diversity our schools. This multi-disciplinary programme is designed for students who wish to advance their skills and improve their practice in inclusive education environments. Based in the unique campus of Trinity College Dublin, the programme attracts students from Ireland and across the world who wish to make a real difference in the lives of children and young people.


Course strand leader | Dr Joanne Banks | Email

Students in this programme explore key international and national policy developments in inclusive education while developing conceptual understandings of how schools and society view diversity. The taught modules provide students with effective teaching and learning strategies including Universal Design for Learning, an approach which ensures the inclusion of all children and young people while in school. Through their research, students on this programme also gain access to the latest research expertise and guidance.

Graduates of the Masters in Special Education have used the skills developed during the programme to expand their career opportunities. Some have gone on to become more specialised teachers in their schools, others have advanced to educational leadership or management positions, some now work in education policy and others have continued their studies to doctorate level.

Is this programme for me?

The programme is suited to school principals, teachers and support staff working in special or mainstream education in early years settings, primary and post-primary education. The programme can be undertaken on a full- and part-time basis.

See more details on the main courses website

Course Structure

The programme can be taken as one year full time or two and three years part-time. Taking the programme over one academic year involves completing four taught module assignments and a research dissertation. Students taking the programme over two academic years complete four taught module assignments in the first year and a research dissertation in the second year. Students taking the programme over three years complete two taught module assignments in each of the first two years and in the third year write a research dissertation.

The taught component contains four modules, with each module containing approximately 25 hours of contact time. The blended learning approach involves a mix of distance education and face-to-face interaction with on-line resources available to read in advance.

Course Modules

  • Module One |Introduction to Special Education for the Classroom Teacher: Module one comprises of an introduction to the development of special educational provision both nationally and internationally. Critical issues affecting educational access for children and young people with special educational needs will be discussed and participants will be expected to critically engage with the theory and practice of inclusion.
  • Module Two |Including children with disabilities and/or SEN in the mainstream classroom: Module two addresses the challenges and opportunities involved in designing inclusive learning environments within classrooms and schools. In particular, this module will explore current identification and assessment processes; the staged process of assessment; individual education planning.
  • Module Three |Special Educational Needs and the Curriculum: Within Module three participants critically engage with international perspectives on appropriate pedagogies for children and young people with special educational needs. Enabling learner access to the curriculum is explored and practical differentiation strategies are presented. Research in the area of special education is examined and research strategies are discussed.
  • Module Four | Special education support for the mainstream school: Module four will examine the range of support provision in the education of children and young people who have special educational needs including whole school approaches; distinct roles of support personnel; support from agencies outside school. International perspectives on support will be explored on developing collaborative practice in addressing the support needs of children and young people who have special educational needs.

Teaching and learning strategies

A variety of teaching and learning strategies are used throughout the programme, including group discussion, problem-based learning, individual presentation, e-learning and accessing online resources, group project work, case-studies, lectures and individual reading and research. Assessment of the taught component is via four assignments, and may include essays, case-study reports, oral presentations and portfolio type projects.


Jessica Drohan

The decision to apply for a Masters in Special Educational Needs in Trinity College Dublin was definitely the best decision I have made in my career as a secondary school teacher. This Masters programme has heightened my awareness of the needs of others and has advanced my knowledge in understanding a wide range of learning difficulties along with teaching and learning strategies to best accommodate specific learning needs. It has most definitely equipped me with invaluable knowledge and skills which are needed to respond to the increasing developmental and cultural diversity of our schools. During my course of study, I gained access to the latest research in inclusive education in a pleasant and professional environment. I found myself in a class of like-minded peers from a variety of international educational backgrounds, allowing me to learn and expand my personal and professional network. Not only were lecturers and professors highly knowledgeable in their field of study they were also approachable, supportive and friendly. Overall it was a great learning experience! I highly recommend it to anyone wishing to advance their skills and improve their practice in developing inclusive learning environments within schools.

Megan Dewing
Primary School Educator South Africa

Through my four years of managing my own class in various settings around my home country it became evident to me that many educators were facing the challenge of having learners with varying abilities and learning styles in their class without the proper skills to assist each and every learner. So when faced with the incredible opportunity to complete my postgraduate degree there was no question that it would be The Master in Education, Special Education programme at Trinity College Dublin.

The Special Education programme provided invaluable opportunities to engage with the realities of inclusive and special education on an international scale. I was encouraged to research and critique the literature on inclusive education while interacting with professors and researchers who are doing inspiring and innovative work in the field, thus developing my skills to write my own dissertation on Inclusive Education Policy in South Africa. This programme has given me a better understanding of what I can do as an educator to assist learners, colleagues and parents in using inclusion as a valuable tool in education practices to improve results and welfare of children with special needs.

Bogdana Kuvshinova
Graduate 2018-2019

I’m from Russia and I did the M.Ed. course in Trinity Dublin College in 2018-2019. I felt that the strand Special Educational Needs changed my life and perception of the world. Trinity is inspiring place to study and to grow. The atmosphere of an ancient university combined with modern studios and experiences professors- that was my Trinity. Full of amazing events, public lectures and sports activities. Thanks to all the people involved.

Kaavya Nair
Graduate 2018-2019

The M.Ed provided me with the opportunity to take a step back from the classroom, step into a different country setting and focus on the bigger picture that held importance to me - ‘Quality education for all children’.

The year long course allowed me to gain access to several resources through academic learning, the extremely knowledgeable faculty and other teachers from various classroom settings, education systems and nationalities.

The M.Ed makes me feel more well - equipped as a teacher and has allowed me to cater to children of different types in the classroom! Definitely recommend this course for all the superhero teachers out there.