Master of Education (Special Education, Advanced)

Build specialised skills to support individuals

The Master of Education (Special Education, Advanced) thoroughly prepares educators to support individuals with a range of special educational needs in mainstream classrooms and fills a much-needed gap in professional development for teachers in the field.

The Master of Education (Special Education, Advanced) takes a Design Thinking approach to analyse issues and challenges faced by persons with a range of additional learning needs. In particular, it focuses on problem solving, informed by advanced theoretical knowledge, from a person first perspective.

The course highlights three distinct streams; all of which address the challenges and issues faced by mainstream teachers in 21st Century educational practice:

  • Autism stream – provides educators with advanced knowledge and skills in supporting individuals with Autism
  • Mental Health stream – provides educators with advanced knowledge and skills in supporting individuals with Mental Health challenges, in particular, the three most prominent issues facing contemporary educators, Anxiety, Depression and Eating Disorders
  • Learning stream – provides educators with advanced knowledge and skills in supporting individuals with a range of learning needs.

Graduates of the Master of Education (Special Education, Advanced) can progress to further postgraduate studies in related fields of education. They can also pursue advanced career options within the education profession, such as Lead Teacher status and leadership opportunities within schools and other educational establishments. In particular, this course provides graduates with a depth of knowledge and expertise in meeting the needs of all students within mainstream educational settings, which has application across all subject areas, in primary and secondary school contexts.

N.B. This is not an accredited Australian Initial Teacher Education course and therefore does not qualify the student to teach in Australia.


Key Study Outcomes:

About the School

This course is delivered by Torrens University Australia Ltd, ABN 99 154 937 005, RTO 41343, CRICOS 03389E.

Read more about Torrens University Australia

Torrens University Australia

Course Delivery

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Workload and Assessment

No. of timetabled hours per week:

It is expected that each subject, whether studied online or on-campus, will involve a combined total of 120 hours of structured and self-directed learning, which equates to approximately 10 hours a week for subjects over 12-week trimesters.

International students on a student visa are required to study full time, i.e. the student must complete a minimum of 1.0 EFTSL of study per year.

Typical assessment includes:

Assessments within the Master of Education (Special Education, Advanced) vary in submission outcome, including (but not limited to):
reflective journal/blog, portfolio, report/essay, presentation/pitch, research, collaboration/facilitation of discussion, negotiated tasks, scenario responses, problem based tasks

Subject Information

Education Major Project B requires students to engage in an innovation/change or research project previously planned to demonstrate competence in the implementation of innovation/change or research processes. There is also a focus in the subject on the interpretation and presentation of the findings of the project, and the implications of such work for future practice.

Prerequisite: EMP603

The Education Major Project provides students with an opportunity to plan and carry out an innovation/change or research project over two trimesters. Project A introduces and explores methodology and encourages critical and systematic reflection on your professional context. Students design an innovation/change or research project around an issue or problem related to their current context. This project enables students to draw on previous coursework and apply theories, concepts and practices to improve an identified aspect of their context.

Prerequisite: ACP601; MHP601; ICP601


Students are introduced to a range of Mental Health conditions, understanding the complexity and interrelatedness between the challenges associated within each. The person first approach is used in this subject to introduce the problem solving skills required when supporting an individual with Mental Health conditions. Students interact with a range of experiential perspectives of Mental Health, using interviews and scenarios to develop the person first approach. A range of perspectives, experiences, challenges and aspirations in the Mental Health community creates a platform for students to examine both the community and their own bias, prejudice and assumptions. Further, the range of carers involved in Mental Health conditions is considered for a deeper awareness of the impact of the conditions.

The person first approach is used in this subject to introduce the problem solving skills required when supporting an individual with learning differences, including but not limited to dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and ADHD. This subject also explores the impact these challenges have on self-esteem and future learning aspirations. Further, examples of stereotyping, types of interventions and the genetic disposition of the learning challenges are discussed.

This subject develops students’ awareness and understanding by analysing the range of traits across each learning condition. Presenting in various ways and areas of learning development, the stigmatised learning challenges are often described from a deficit viewpoint. Students will be analysing the history of such conditions and the evolution of interventions and support, in turn, continuing to evolve an attribute view of the traits of these conditions.

Classroom diversity is increasing rapidly and teachers need strategies to meet the needs of all students and celebrate their differences. Learning differences vary greatly and therefore need well-developed, suitable and equitable learning support and practice across the school.

This subject provides students with the opportunity to explore the many ways that the needs of all students can be addressed within the mainstream classroom. “Inclusion” describes the practice of enabling students with learning challenges to learn beside their peers and to embrace diversity. The subject focuses on developing and/or extending a positive perspective on inclusion, which is based on identifying and using each student’s strengths.

Differentiation is presented within this subject as a proactive rather than reactive plan, where practical strategies for planning, assessing and teaching are explored and implemented in an integrated approach that celebrates the strengths and meets the needs of all students.

Students will also apply the range of perspectives and skills gathered over the course to design a whole-of-school inclusion plan, based on a person first perspective, contemporary practices and education skills required for the plan. The students are challenged to build into the plan a range of supports with external partnerships to ensure the range of learning challenges presented in the school, education staff, parents and the wider community combat segregation and stigma, to create a community of acceptance, inclusion and best practices.

Mental Health across the globe now changes rapidly with significant leaders in the field. Students will use a lateral thinking approach following the person first and lifespan understanding to identify the future of Mental Health conditions and education. This in depth forecast enables students to critically examine global education practices, perceptions and the range of supports available to individuals and their carers in a schooling context. In this subject, students will appraise current Mental Health supports in schools and in turn, further develop or recreate these supports by utilising the knowledge and understanding developed over the course.

Students once again explore bias, prejudice and stereotyping and examine their level of comfort in relation to supporting a range of Mental Health conditions in the classroom and the school community. Understanding the varying roles of carers forms a crucial component to broaden students’ ability to apply the knowledge and skills developed in this course.


Viewed across a spectrum, dyslexia can be difficult to recognise. By expanding on the understanding of dyslexia traits and range of support tools, this subject uncovers the complexity of dyslexia and how to recognise and support individuals. Students will be presented with perspectives from the lived experience of individuals and parents demonstrating varying contexts and levels of support requirements. Understanding how this condition can impact an individual’s education creates the platform for students to apply their knowledge to put contemporary practices of support in the classroom.

This subject explores the history of Mental Health, through to the awareness in the present day. An examination of the current knowledge and application in a range of life experiences enables students to formulate ideas regarding the impact of Mental Health. From diagnosis to schooling, communication, health, accessibility and finance, the experience for an individual varies. Further, the carer component of this subject evolves in terms of challenges and specific needs.

With a deeper understanding of Autism from the perspective of person first, theory and lifespan complexities, students are challenged to reimagine learning practices. In this subject, students analyse the impact of globalisation and in turn, the development of information, education and support. Using a critical eye to examine past and present systems, processes and support in education across the globe, students create an inclusive classroom. Analysing a range of pedagogy, learning environments and school community presented in the subject, students recreate learning for individuals with Autism and their carers in the classroom. For example, special school to mainstream conversations in the education and Autism sector. The design will encompass the person first and best practice support for an individual with Autism.

Further, identification of the allied health professions and their interaction in education forms a vital component in this subject to ensure team based, best practice support is understood. Students will identify the role of each allied health professional and a range of alternative therapies. Using this information along with the person first perspective, students will examine the benefits or deficits of each resource used in the present day. In turn, students explore the needs of educators, their challenges and support structures. By understanding the welfare of all carers in the role of supporting an individual with Autism, highlighting the importance of resilience for the individual and carers across the lifespan.

Utilising a holistic perspective, the lifespan for an individual with Autism in the present day is explored. From diagnosis, to schooling, communication and health, the experience for an individual and their carers varies. In this subject, students consider the range of challenges across the lifespan and the differing paths Autism takes for an individual and their carers. Given the complexity and unique nature of Autism, critical thinking about the day-to-day needs of individuals encourages students to enhance person first and problem-based thinking skills. Issues such as accessibility, the range of support, choices and types of community are examined. In addition, challenges across the lifespan will be identified and analysed including communication, stigmas, misdiagnosis and co-morbidities.

In this subject, a range of interventions from past to present and varying viewpoints are critiqued in reference to person first and positive support. This aspect of the subject drives deeper thinking in relation to education philosophy. With this grounding, students reflect upon the contemporary pedagogy for supporting individuals with Autism in education. Students consider factors such as social, health, education and accessibility in the early years of life, through to housing, work, relationships and services in adult life. This comparison between historical interventions and contemporary practices across the lifespan for individuals with Autism, provides insight to the shifts in attitudes and support. Finally, the application of these complexities is introduced for a lateral thinking approach to education practices.

Contemporary practice in Autism education requires sound knowledge, understanding and support by educators to effectively create an inclusive and best practice learning environment. A movement in the disability sector advocates for individuals and their carers to have their voice heard. In this subject, students examine the shift in support for individuals with Autism and their carers. More specifically, the Autism community to move to a voice that is heard, rather than passive. The person first approach is used in this subject to introduce the problem solving skills required when supporting an individual with Autism by actively listening to their needs. Students will interact with a range of experiential perspectives of Autism, using interviews and scenarios to develop the person first approach. Interactions with the varying perspectives, experiences, challenges and aspirations in the Autism community creates a platform for students to examine bias, prejudice and assumptions. The voice of the individual with Autism and their carers in this subject unveils the importance of active listening and co-design for learning.

Further, an exploration of the evolution of Autism education, based on the medical theory in relation to diagnosis of Autism. Spanning early 1940’s to the twenty first century, introduces students to the complexity of Autism, the development of knowledge and application in education systems. This subject asks students to explore the Autism diagnosis and the impact on individuals and the Autism community. Further, students’ understanding is deepened when asked to critique the social implications, relating to discrimination, policy and practices specific to the history of Autism, using a person first perspective.

In this subject, the usefulness, relevance and relationship of coaching and positive psychology to counselling will be explored.
Positive psychology is a relatively new field in psychology and this subject will review its contribution as an approach to the ‘helping relationship’, including an investigation of some of the controversies, conflicting view points and their respective empirical support.
As part of their exploration of the key positive psychology theorists, students will begin to develop an understanding of how they can synthesise that work into their potential coaching practice. They will also learn a range of particular coaching skills, including solution‐focused and strengths‐based approaches, as well as goal‐setting and personal development coaching.
This subject will balance theory and practice in its delivery and students will be encouraged to engage in interactive learning through discussion and experiential practice.

In this subject, students will be given the opportunity to explore some of the issues and challenges associated with working therapeutically with young people. The subject begins with a discussion of the cultural and social framework for understanding the positioning of young people and ‘youth’ in our culture today. This serves as a foundation for the further study of young people and the factors that can affect their mental health and how this manifests. The Maudsley model for treatment is examined, along with service delivery models and other forms of interventions. Students will also discuss the potential for working with different communities on intervention and prevention strategies.
Students will also be introduced to the legal parameters that will inform their professional practice: child protection and notification, informed consent, confidentiality and involvement of the family.

This subject explores issues and concerns that inform counselling and psychotherapeutic practice in the mental health and considers a range of commonly presented symptoms and syndromes.
Practice models, therapeutic approaches and skills for effective and deliberative
practice will be identified and examined for use. To inform this investigation, students will review research findings on aetiology, subsequent development and the evidence base for the efficacy of various forms of treatment.
The final component of the subject introduces the notion of cross cultural counselling and gender awareness and the way that gender, ethnic, religious and cultural differences affect the way ‘problems’ are perceived and presented, and the way that change agents may need to respond. This Subject uses experiential learning opportunities with critical feedback from peers and lecturers.

Students in this subject explore the field and practice of public health. They learn to identify and analyse major social, behavioural and cultural factors affecting population health outcomes. These factors include social determinants of health
(e.g. gender, socioeconomic status and social capital), community capacity, resilience, age, race/ethnicity, the environment and behavioural risk. Students explore medical, social and behavioural approaches to health promotion and public health interventions. They analyse current and emerging theoretical and conceptual frameworks from the social, behavioural and medical sciences. Students apply these frameworks and other theories presented in the subject, to intervention strategies and/or program initiatives that address current public health issues.

This subject introduces students to the concepts of business communications and transferrable academic skills. This subject presents an analysis of the types of communication processes, which occur in the internal and external business environment, including an examination of the theoretical underpinnings of communication in business. Emphasis is placed on writing skills, reports and presentations and on using technology to communicate. The subject introduces students to research skills, information literacy, critical analysis, writing and language techniques. The aims of this subject are to provide knowledge and skills needed for success in Higher Education, to help students manage their own success and to assist them in reaching their academic potential.

Data can be useful to inform change but it is also open to misuse and misinterpretation. Most large national and international education databases such as OECD, PISA, NAPLAN, TIMMS are accessible to all educators but require specific skills to analyse and interpret. In this subject students will critically explore and interpret International and national education. Politicians and education leaders often rely on such large datasets to inform policy decisions, change and practice, thus it is extremely important for educators to be able to critically interrogate and interpret large datasets to inform any decisions and interventions.

In this subject students will analyse a variety of examples of innovative educational practice (including, for example, practices relating to the support of students with additional educational needs), critically examine the meaning of innovation and debate whether innovation can be quantified and measured. Students will be supported to identify problems/issues within education practice and will utilise tools and thinking processes designed to assist in the generation of innovative solutions. Finally, students will explore evaluation methodology as a means of analysing innovation outcomes relevant to their professional context in a systematic way.

This subject challenges students to engage with a diverse range of educational technologies, with a view to critically examining the relevance and application of such technologies within their professional context. More broadly, students will engage critically with the discourses surrounding technologies in education, refining their skills of critique and analysis to articulate the principles through which educators might make informed decisions about the effectiveness and appropriateness of specific technologies for learning. The subject will provide students with the opportunity to consider specific technologies that are relevant for their professional setting, for example technologies to engage students with Autism, and/or technologies relevant to the teaching of particular disciplines.

Design thinking is an approach to innovation that involves identifying ‘problems’ or issues in a particular context, considering those who have a stake in these problems/issues, and designing a range of possible solutions that are then tested and refined in practice. In this subject, students will explore the concepts and processes of design thinking, including the origins of design thinking and its use across a range of disciplines and contexts. Following these general processes, students will then engage in a design thinking process to identify and address an issue within their own professional context. Through this design thinking process, students will engage in reflection and analysis of their professional skills, knowledge, and judgement, and ultimately arrive at an advanced understanding of their roles as innovators and leaders in education.

This subject focuses on the competencies required of the public health professional in planning for the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of community health promotion and disease prevention initiatives. Attention is given to needs assessment and the social, behavioural, environmental, biological, and economic factors that contribute to health outcomes. Strategic approaches to planning, implementation, and evaluation including cost benefit analysis are addressed. Health behaviour theories are considered in the development of educational programs, the application of evaluation findings, and prioritisation of community concerns and resources.

Prerequisite: Social, Behavioural and Cultural Factors in Public Health

Research indicates that excellence in teaching is the single most powerful influence on student achievement. In this course, students explore what it means to be a high achieving professional educator in today’s diverse and changing educational landscape. Students will critically examine the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership’s (AITSL) Australian Professional Standards for Teachers at the lead teacher career stage. This assists them in developing a deeper understanding of their content area and articulating why their selected teaching practices and strategies are important in shaping learning in ways that are meaningful and valuable to diverse learners. The course also assists students in articulating why they are expert pedagogues able to make appropriate professional judgements that successfully shape the manner in which they teach and respond to their students’ learning.

This subject focuses on the development of knowledge and skills to enable students to identify, analyse and make effective decisions to resolve people- related issues in organisations, facilitate employee development, and develop and sustain effective teams in complex, diverse, and increasingly global operating environments. Topics include strategic human resource management, organisational design, culture and ethics, organisational behaviour, motivation and performance management, retention and succession planning, and organisation, project and functional teams. Students will focus on group based research methods in this subject including the use of focus groups, surveys and other instruments that provide data about group samples.

Being an effective and genuine leader in a dynamic era requires an understanding of leadership concepts, how leaders think and act, and how various management styles impact situations and relationships within an organisation. Being a dynamic leader also demands a strong set of competencies such as motivating self and others, leading creativity in an organisation, cultural intelligence, and navigating ambiguity. This subject provides students with a foundation of leadership theory, styles, and approaches, and an opportunity for students to assess and build on their own leadership styles throughout the course.

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