Taught course

Adults with Learning Disabilities who have Significant and Complex Needs – Distance Learning (PGDip/MSc)

University of St Andrews · School of Psychology

Entry requirements

Successful completion of a Postgraduate Certificate in Adults with Learning Disabilities or a Postgraduate Certificate in Adult Support, Protection and Safeguarding at the University of St Andrews or a similar certificate qualification in the area of learning disabilities from a recognised UK Higher Education Institution.

Months of entry


Course content

The PGDip/MSc in Adults with Learning Disabilities is a part-time distance learning course run by the School of Psychology and Neuroscience, this course is intended as continuing professional development qualifications for professional staff who wish to be research-practitioners in their current post, or who wish to advance their career through applying evidence-based research in practice.. The Postgraduate Diploma must be completed within one calendar year from October to September. The focus is on research, and students will learn the skills of a research practitioner.

For those progressing on to the MSc, you will spend an additional year researching and writing a 15,000-word dissertation. Students apply the knowledge and research skills gained in the PG Diploma to carry out research that will benefit the quality of service, care and life of adults with learning disabilities.


  • The online open learning materials are written in an interactive style and are designed to encourage students to use their own workplace experiences as a basis for new learning and development of research skills.
  • Students have full electronic access to the University of St Andrews library resources, including full text journals and other online resources.

Teaching format

The course is delivered via online modules through the University of St Andrews Dynamic Learning Environment. Students will have access to research publications, electronic databases and the University's library resources.

Over the course of the year, students will take six compulsory modules. It is not possible to enrol for individual modules at the Postgraduate Diploma level. Typically, each module is completed within two months and requires 100 hours of total study time, including completion of assessments. Module teaching materials are delivered online where students will have access to additional reference materials.

Students complete assessments online. The taught modules are continuously assessed through coursework, which students submit online. Coursework assessment includes multiple choice questions, short answer assignments, reference searches, and analysis of published research as well as developing a full research proposal. There is no final exam for the course.

University tutors are available for support via email and telephone.


Each module typically comprises:

  • guided online teaching and learning materials
  • 100% coursework assessment.

For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2018–2019 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2019 entry.

Fees and funding

UK students

Qualification and course duration


distance learning
24 months


distance learning
12 months

Course contact details

Postgraduate Secretary
+44 (0) 1334 46 2157