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Language and Communication Impairment in Children
School of Allied Health Professions, Nursing and Midwifery,
Faculty of Health
This course is designed to give you specialist knowledge of language development and communication difficulties, and enable you to support the children you work with, whether it’s in a classroom or a clinic. It is taught mostly online, by distance learning, although you will also learn in person during lectures, delivered in one and two day study blocks.
You will study how children’s language develops, the links between speaking and writing, and the relationship between language and learning. There is also training on how to use evidence to inform your practice. PGDip and MSc students can explore methods of assessing, investigating and managing speech and language difficulties, and focus on specialist topics such as autism spectrum disorders or communication in adolescence.
The course is aimed at teachers, speech and language therapists and other professionals working with children and their speech, language and communication. We offer a range of part-time options so you can fit your studies around your other commitments.
Students on the PGDip and MSc programmes study a range of quantitative and qualitative research methods, so they can keep up-to-date with the latest findings and use this to inform their practice. MSc students apply these skills to their own research project, which may include designing experiments, analysing data and reporting results.
This course does not lead to a qualification to practise as a speech and language therapist or pathologist.
PGCert, PGDip and MSc
- Children's Learning
This module promotes student skills in distance/e-learning, participating in on-line activity and use of e-resources. It presents theories of cognitive development, how these inform our understanding of children's learning and the development of educational practice, and the interaction of learning and language. The individual differences in learning abilities within children in school is considered, including those children who may have significant difficulties across all learning and those who may have specific difficulty with certain aspects of learning. Course content is delivered across a continuum to allow students to develop from their own level of existing knowledge and understanding.15 credits
- Language and Communication
This module describes children's development of language and communication, including aspects of social and emotional development, as well as spoken language. The analysis of different components of language will be explored. Individual differences in language and communication skills are discussed. Theoretical perspectives and research findings about children's language and communication difficulties will be evaluated. Implications for practice are explored, including intervention strategies. Course content is delivered across a continuum to allow students to develop from their own level of existing knowledge and understanding.15 credits
- Spoken and Written Language
This module focuses on the nature of spoken and written language development and difficulties. The relationship between speech, language and literacy is explored. Topics include speech and literacy development, phonological awareness, reading and reading comprehension, writing, spelling and cross-linguistic issues. Theoretical models and practical applications to supporting literacy development in pre and school age children will be studied. Students can choose to either follow introductory units in phonetics and speech development if new to these topics or extend their existing knowledge of phonetics and examine connected speech and prosody.15 credits
- Developing an Evidence Base for Practice
This module develops knowledge, understanding and skills for the promotion of evidence based practice for practitioners in education, health and social welfare contexts. Students will be introduced to levels and types of evidence, develop skills in framing questions about their practice, searching and reading the literature, and in critical analysis. Students will develop skills in evaluating their own practice.15 credits
PGDip and MSc
- Research Methods in Human Communication A
This module will develop students' knowledge, understanding and skills of the range of research methodologies used in human communication sciences, education and health. The main aim of the module is to allow students to become competent consumers and producers of scientific evidence. Topics will include the qualitative and quantitative research cycle (eg study design, development of research questions), concepts of statistical analysis (eg descriptive statistics, presenting data, selected inferential statistics), qualitative research methods (eg interviews) and case study designs.15 credits
- Research Methods in Human Communication B
This module will expand students' knowledge, understanding and skills of the range of research methodologies used in human communication sciences, education and health. It will further develop their competencies in interpreting and producing scientific evidence. The main aim of the module is to allow students to design and conduct a methodologically and statistically sound research project. Topics will include inferential statistics (parametric and non-parametric statistical tests, effect sizes and strength of relationships, regression), psychometrics (concepts, derived scores and confidence intervals) and qualitative research methods (eg interviews) and qualitative data analysis.15 credits
Optional modules for PGDip and MSc levels only may include:
- Communication Diversity & Difficulties: A
This module allows students to select up to three topics in the field of children's language and communication for more detailed study. Topics may include the following: autism spectrum disorders, language and communication in the early years, literacy difficulties, developmental language disorders (DLD), language and behaviour, language and communication in adolescence, and multilingualism. Theoretical perspectives and research findings within each topic are evaluated. Implications for practice are explored. Course content is delivered across a continuum to allow students to develop from their own level of existing knowledge and understanding.15 credits
- Communication, Diversity & Difficulties: B
This module allows students to select up to six topics in the field of children's language and communication for more detailed study. Topics may include the following: autism spectrum disorders, language and communication in the early years, literacy difficulties, developmental language disorders (DLD), language and behaviour, language and communication in adolescence, and multilingualism. Theoretical perspectives and research findings within each topic are evaluated. Implications for practice are explored. Course content is delivered across a continuum to allow students to develop from their own level of existing knowledge and understanding.30 credits
- Literacy : Difficulties and Intervention
This module is designed to provide students with the opportunity to explore how and why individuals struggle to learn to read and write with fluency and confidence. It will take a developmental perspective and examine pre-cursors to reading difficulties, issues in the early years, as well as the types of difficulty that persist into secondary school and beyond. We will cover both widely-discussed diagnoses such as dyslexia, as well as reading difficulties that do not fit so neatly into a single category. The module will discuss the behaviour associated with literacy difficulties, as well as what we know about evidence-based intervention.15 credits
- Case Study
This module provides students with the opportunity to apply the knowledge, understanding and skills acquired in earlier modules to the study of an individual case. The case study will take one of two forms: the analysis of assessment information, and evaluation of findings in relation to theory and research evidence to provide the rationale for an explanation of the client's difficulties; OR the planning, carrying out and evaluating of an intervention based on theory and research evidence.15 credits
- Speech Difficulties 1: Nature and Investigation
This module offers a study of the nature of developmental speech difficulties (speech sound disorders) from a range of perspectives: historical, medical, developmental, linguistic/cross-linguistic, phonetic, acoustic, psycholinguistic and educational. It examines how developmental speech difficulties can be investigated and assessed drawing on knowledge and skills from each of these perspectives. These investigations include qualitative analysis of speech data, psychometric testing and instrumental applications. Students will study current research into both theoretical aspects of the nature of speech difficulties and application to practice in a range of contexts.15 credits
- Speech Difficulties 2: Intervention and Management
This module draws on current research into the management of clients with developmental speech difficulties (speech sound disorders) in a range of contexts (e.g. schools, clinic, units) and situations. It adopts a range of perspectives (e.g. historical, medical, developmental, linguistic/cross-linguistic, psycholinguistic, and biopsychosocial) in order to plan intervention programmes for children, adolescents and adults with developmental speech and associated literacy and psychosocial difficulties. Evidence for a range of intervention programmes is examined by applying critical analysis skills to the research methodologies adopted. Issues associated with service delivery are explored. Different approaches to management, e.g. hands-on intervention, consultative role, working through others (e.g. parents/carers and assistants) are explored.15 credits
For Communication Diversity and Difficulties, you can choose up to two specialist topics for assessment, such as:
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Developmental Language Disorder
Language and Behaviour
Language and Environment
The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.
An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses. You'll find out what makes us special.
MSc: 2 or 3 years part-time via distance learning
Postgraduate Diploma: 2 years part-time via distance learning
Postgraduate Certificate: 1 year part-time via distance learning
This course is mostly taught online. Study blocks for each module take place on campus at regular intervals throughout the academic year. They include lectures, tutorials and practical workshops and are held over one to three days.
Attendance at study blocks is normally compulsory. However, for part-time, distance learning students not based in the UK, it is recommended but optional.
Full-time students can also attend other lectures, seminars and practical workshops offered by the School of Allied Health Professions, Nursing and Midwifery.
My research investigates how children’s language and literacy develops and what happens when that process goes wrong. A particular interest is the impact of digital technology on development. My research and teaching constantly enrich each other.
Dr Jenny Thomson
Teaches on: PG Cert/Diploma/MSc Speech Difficulties; PG Cert/Diploma/MSc Language and Communication in Children
You will be assessed through written assignments. MSc students are also assessed through a dissertation.
Graduates leave this course with specialist knowledge and skills that can help them develop their careers – for example through a promotion, or stepping into different types of roles supporting children. It’s also great preparation for a PhD and other kinds of postgraduate training.
This course does not lead to a professional qualification that would allow you to practise as a speech and language therapist.
The flexibility of part-time distance learning has significantly benefited me
Johnny Wong Masters student, MSc Language and Communication Impairment in Children
Johnny Wong is a mental health counsellor in Hong Kong. He provides therapy to individuals and groups, including students, struggling with a range of issues. Some of his clients have communication impairments, and Johnny explains how our Language and Communication Impairment in Children course is helping him support these students to succeed in school and beyond.
For the PGCert/PGDip: an undergraduate degree or a degree-level professional qualification, plus at least two years of experience of working with children.
For the MSc: minimum 2:1 undergraduate honours degree and two years of relevant work experience with children.
Overall IELTS score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component, or equivalent.
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.
Fees and funding
For the two-year version of MSc Language and Communication Impairment in Children please use our course fee lookup tool.
The fee below applies to the three-year version of MSc Language and Communication Impairment in Children.
You can apply for 2024 postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.
Tel: +44 114 222 2030
Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.
Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.