PGDip in Autism and Related Neurodevelopmental Conditions

Course Description

The New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling NSPC has been involved in research and teaching in autism and neurodiversity since its inception in 1998. The online courses provide in-depth theory, understanding of clinical issues and practice, and research skills. NSPC believes that improving the quality and accessibility of assessments and services for neurodivergent individuals is paramount. Continued research into neurodivergence, that is led by the neurodivergent community is essential worldwide.

The distance learning nature of the course means that students can learn in a flexible format that fits around work and personal commitments. The course is wholly online and is accessed by students across the world. Learning incorporates theory, references to real world settings, skills and research. Students learn together in a collaborative way, sharing knowledge and experience.

The courses provide professional development for those supporting autistic and neurodivergent individuals. If you are qualified in a relevant professional field, these courses will qualify you to practice as a specialist within that area. However, the programmes are also of interest to those wanting to study autism and neurodiversity solely from an academic and research perspective. Including for parent, carers or neurodivergent individuals who want access to the latest research, and information about services. Features of the course you might like:

• This programme provides students with a flexible, part-time qualification.

• All teaching is online and includes in-depth teaching on autism and other neurodivergent diagnoses.

• Students also look at clinical and practical issues such as development, social and cultural factors.

Course Leader: Dr Ruth Millman


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

Application Deadlines:

  • January Cohorts - application deadline is the 30th November
  • September Cohorts - application deadline is the 1st August

Programme of Study

Year 1


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 neurodiversity 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. 

The summative assessment for this module includes a 1000 word case study and a 1500 word theoretical essay.


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.

The summative assessment for this module includes a 2000 word theoretical essay.


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. 

The summative assessment for this module includes a 2000 word theoretical essay.


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. 

The summative assessment for this module includes a 2000 word theoretical essay.


Year 2

Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder 

Students will explore ADHD from a medical and neuro-affirmative perspective, considering the tensions between these viewpoints. Students will learn about the different presentations of ADHD and consider the lived experience of people with ADHD. It also aims to provide a comprehensive account of contemporary knowledge about the causes, possible treatments, and supportive strategies for people with ADHD. The student to be able to combine these personal and scientific perspectives.  

The summative assessment for this module includes a 1000 word case study and a 1500 word theoretical essay.


Atypical speech, language and motor development 

This module gives students an awareness of the presentations of specific learning disorders, (SLD), communication disorder, developmental coordination disorder (DCD), and the lived experience of those individuals with these conditions. Students will gain a comprehensive account of contemporary knowledge about the causes of SLI, SLD and DCD, and to enable the student to be able to combine these personal and scientific perspectives. The overall aim is to provide the detailed knowledge of these two developmental disorders, that are often overlooked in adults. The module will also examine the topic from a neuro-affirmative perspective, considering the impact of the medical model, and how to develop person-centred and strength-based support. 

The summative assessment for this module includes a 2000 word theoretical essay.



And two of the following: 

Well-being and health:  

This module provides an understanding of the role of positive psychology and other theoretical approaches to well-being within an overall strategy of improvement of quality of living. Student will learn about the links between happiness and well-being, and about positive psychology and well-being interventions. 

The summative assessment for this module includes a 2000 word theoretical essay.


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.

The summative assessment for this module includes writing a research proposal.


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. 

The summative assessment for this module includes a 2000 word theoretical essay.


The order of modules on your personal course plan may differ from the above dependent on what optional module you take and went you begin your studies. 

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 2024-25

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 


4 units over 3 terms 



Validated Courses Additional Charges  

Application Fee 

£50 non-refundable 

Acceptance Deposit 

£100 which will be deducted from the initial invoice when you start the course. It is non-refundable if you do not start. 


Fee is only applicable if your claim for prior learning is approved and will replace the tuition fee for that unit. 

£200 per submission 

Instalment Plan 

£20 per Unit 

Late changes to Course Plan  


Professional registration 

At own expense  


At own expense 


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 easy to 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. A weekly quiz ensures that you are absorbing the materials.

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, Autism, or a MSc in Autism.

MIddlesex University