Explore this course:
School of Allied Health Professions, Nursing and Midwifery,
Faculty of Health
This course focuses on speech sound disorders and their impact on children. There is also an exploration of the relationship between oral speech and literacy. It is taught online, by distance learning, delivered in one and two-day study blocks. The course is designed to give you specialist knowledge and skills to assess and clinically manage children with developmental speech difficulties.
You will examine conditions including phonological impairment or disorder and childhood apraxia of speech (developmental verbal dyspraxia). You will explore methods of assessing, investigating and managing speech difficulties, and how to use the latest research to inform your practice. PGDip and MSc students can also study associated topics such as autism spectrum disorders or communication in adolescence.
The course is aimed at speech and language therapists or pathologists, as well as linguists, psychologists and other related professionals. Alongside our full-time study options, 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.
Students completing the PG Certificate at the University of Sheffield will take the following core modules:
- 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
- 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
PG Diploma students will complete the same core modules as PG Certificate students, as well as additional core and optional modules.
- 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
Examples of optional modules 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
- Methods in Clinical Linguistics
Students will receive a grounding in methods relevant to the linguistic study of communication disorders. (1) Introduction to clinical phonetics and linguistics. (2) Analysing atypical speech, including: instrumental techniques for the analysis of speech production (eg accoustic analysis, electropalatography); transcription of atypical speech; normal and atypical prosodic systems; speech perception; phonological interpretation; speech processing models. (3) Analysing atypical language: Conversation Analysis and pragmatics; grammatical and semantic analysis. Students will focus on analytical methods relevant to their own research and will be encouraged to reflect on the theoretical assumptions underlying the methods in question, and to be aware of alternative approaches.15 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
Masters students will complete the same core modules as PG Certificate students, as well as the same additional core and optional modules as PG Diploma students, and will also complete a dissertation project.
- Research Project
Dissertation. This unit is designed to give students the opportunity to design, conduct and write-up a research study under the supervision of a member of staff. Students will attend seminars or similar distance learning based activities to supplement supervision. These seminars will cover project guidelines and related research methods. Students will refine their research skills in experimental design, data analysis and reporting. Ethics applications and drafts of work in progess are required.60 credits
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.
Online open day
You can find out more about this course at our online open day on 29 November 2023. Book your place on our Human Communication Sciences (CPD programmes) session.
MSc: 1 year full-time or 2/3 years part-time by distance learning
Postgraduate Diploma: 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time by distance learning
Postgraduate Certificate: 1 year part-time by 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 knowledge and skills that can help them develop their career in the NHS or private sector, or specialise as a speech and language therapist. It’s also great preparation for a PhD.
This course does not lead to a professional qualification that would allow you to practise as a speech and language therapist.
Minimum 2:1 undergraduate honours degree in a relevant discipline such as speech and language therapy/pathology, linguistics, education or psychology.
A background in phonetics is necessary for some modules and experience working with clients with speech difficulties is an advantage.
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
The fees below are for the MSc. Use our fee calculator to look up other fees for other versions of the course.
You can apply now using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.
+44 114 222 2405
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.