PGCert in Autism

Course Description

The postgraduate certificate (PGCert) in Autism is a joint programme between NSPC and Middlesex University, leading to a PGCert awarded by Middlesex University. This one-year course is entirely online.

The programme aims to:

• Provide students with the neurobiology, psychology, and sociology theory necessary for understanding and helping autistic people.

• Explore the concepts of the social disability model, neurodiversity, and neuro-affirmative practice, and how this relates to autism theory, research, and services.

• Examine and critique developmental theories in relation to the experience of autistic and neurodivergent people across the lifespan.

• Instil the ability to critically evaluate evidence and to apply it to practical issues raised by autistic people.

• Develop the ability to apply theoretical understanding to practice.

• Deepen student’s knowledge of, and their ability to apply, accurate and appropriate interpersonal, ethical and cultural sensitivity, and empathic understanding.

For further information on possible learning adaptions we can offer neurodivergent students and students with a disability or chronic health condition, contact [email protected]

Programme of Study

Autism Theory

This module critically considers historical and current diagnostic criteria, including examining this from a social disability model and critical autism studies perspective. Students will explore the defining features of autism, as well as the diversity in how autistic individuals experience the world (e.g. issues of intersectionality). We will consider what effective support looks like for autistic individuals, and critically examine some of the historical and current approaches from a neuro-affirmative perspective. The module considers develops students' ability to critically consider research and theories of autism, and how this can enhance the support of autistic people.

Neuropsychological and neurobiological approaches to atypical development

This module aims to provide all of the necessary biological and psychosocial knowledge for a student to be able to read and understand the scientific literature on the causes, development, and lived experience of neurodevelopmental conditions. Giving students a foundational knowledge base, that also assists completion of other modules of the course. The module will critically examine the research into neurodevelopmental conditions, including from a neuro-affirmative perspective.

Development Through the Life Span

Autism, ADHD and neurodivergence involves issues of development and within this module students will to critically consider developmental theories, including how physical, emotional, cognitive, and social development interact. The module will examine traditional concepts of development and developmental theory, and critically evaluate these in relation to the experience

of neurodivergent individuals across the lifespan. As well as considering non-normative ideas of development and existential reflections on the purpose of development as an unfolding project.

Choose one of the following modules

Social, Cultural, and ethical issues

This module will cover cultural variations, and the impact of social organization and culture on morals, values, and social expectation. It will enable students to make appropriate decisions about consent, confidentiality, discrimination, exploitation, fairness, duty of care, and other ethical and moral quandaries in professional practice.

Research Methods Module

This module will provide an understanding of the contribution of research to the growth of knowledge and the effectiveness of practice. It will give the student a grounding in research approaches, with particular attention to the strengths and weaknesses of qualitative and quantitative approaches.

Intellectual Disabilities

Students will learn about the presentations and aetiology of intellectual disability or impairment, and the impact of these on the individual. It also looks at co-morbidity of intellectual impairment with other neurodevelopmental conditions, and effective support and services for individuals. The module will also consider the social model of disability, as well as examining the importance of neuro-affirmative approaches. Students will also consider related issues such as the criminal justice system and safeguarding.

Accreditation and Careers

This programme is quality assured by Middlesex University and you will receive a Middlesex award on successful completion. You can view the Middlesex Research Degree Regulations here.

The courses also cover the curriculum within the “Expertise Level” of training as outlined by the Scottish Government / NHS for Education Scotland Training Plan for Autism (the most comprehensive guidelines on autism training to date).

These postgraduate courses provide mental health, social care and education focused professionals with the qualifications to work as specialists in their fields of practice. Opening up career opportunities with autism/neurodiversity specialist services and centres (e.g. assessment, mental health, further education). The courses also enhance the skills and knowledge of those already working as autism/neurodiversity specialists.

Fees 2023-24

Year of course 

Units to be completed in year 

Fee payable per year  

(if no units have to be repeated) 

4 units over 3 terms 



(optional claims for prior learning)

Per submission 


*NB There is one textbook that you are required to buy, but many students also buy books from our recommended reading list. 

There is a £50 non-refundable application fee for all courses, to cover administrative costs. An interview with a member of the course staff will only be arranged once this has been received.   

A registration Fee of £150 will be paid when you accept your place on the course. This is non- refundable. 

For more detailed financial terms and conditions click here.

Please note : Students on validated programmes are not eligible for Student Finance or DSA

Entry Requirements

  • An undergraduate degree in any subject (equivalent experience may be acceptable)
  • Fluent English: IELTS level 7 or above in all categories (or equivalent)
  • Personal suitability to be determined at interview
  • Reliable internet connection

How You Study

The course is delivered wholly online. Modules are undertaken using a bespoke learning platform called Moodle. The theory modules are mainly asynchronous, so can easily fit around a busy life, or caring commitments and is accessible worldwide. Students work through weekly materials online, posting and discussing in the forum with the group and tutor. 

Students will have a weekly online chat with tutors and other students, at a time and day decided between group members.

It is possible to apply for a PGCert in ADHD, or a PGDip or MSc in Autism.

MIddlesex University