Skip to Content

Master of Special Education


Faculty of Human Sciences
Master of Special Education (MSpecEd)
Admission Requirement:
Australian level 7 bachelor's qualification or recognised equivalent in education, psychology, speech therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, disability studies, or a related discipline
English Language Proficiency:
IELTS of 7.5 overall (with minimum 7.0 in Reading, 7.0 in Writing, 8.0 in Listening, 8.0 in Speaking) or equivalent
Study Mode:
Attendance Mode:
Candidature Length:
Part-time: 2 years - 3 years depending on RPL granted
North Ryde — Session 1 (February)
North Ryde — Session 2 (July)
External — Session 1 (February)
External — Session 2 (July)
Volume of Learning:
Equivalent to 1.5 years
General requirements:
Minimum number of credit points at 800 level or above 48
Completion of other specific minimum requirements as set out below

In order to graduate students must ensure that they have satisfied all of the general requirements of the award.

Specific minimum requirements:

Credit points

800 level

Applied Behaviour Analysis for Special Educators (4)
Effective Instruction (4)
Students with High Support Needs: Curriculum and Instruction (4)
Effective Instruction in Reading and Spelling (4)
Effective Instruction in Numeracy (4)
Positive Approaches to Behaviour Management (4)
Effective Instruction in Comprehension and Writing (4)
Professional Practice in Special Education (4)
Current Developments in Special Education (4)
Assessment and Intervention in Communication (4)
Research Methods in Special Education (4)
Research into Practice in Special Education (4)


Note that students commencing in Session 2 can only study a part-time load in their first session.
Program Learning Outcomes and Additional Information
AQF Level Level 9 Masters by Coursework Degree
Overview and Aims of the Program The aim of the Master of Special Education is to provide a coherent program of study and professional experience to prepare students for the advanced professional duties of a qualified special educator working in either inclusive or specialised settings. The program focuses on evidence-based practice and the practical application of skills and knowledge to teaching practice. Students will become critical consumers of special education research and apply research principles to a small-scale project. The program incorporates flexible modes of delivery and is particularly suited to part-time study for practising professionals. Professional experience is an integral part of the program.
Graduate Capabilities

The Graduate Capabilities Framework articulates the fundamentals that underpin all of Macquarie’s academic programs. It expresses these as follows:

Cognitive capabilities
(K) discipline specific knowledge and skills
(T) critical, analytical and integrative thinking
(P) problem solving and research capability
(I) creative and innovative

Interpersonal or social capabilities
(C) effective communication
(E) engaged and ethical local and global citizens
(A) socially and environmentally active and responsible

Personal capabilities
(J) capable of professional and personal judgement and initiative
(L) commitment to continuous learning

Program Learning Outcomes By the end of this program it is anticipated you should be able to:

• creatively design or adjust curriculum based an advanced and specialized understanding of recent developments in research-based practice in special education (K,T, P, J)
• select or design assessment tasks, monitoring and evaluation procedures based an advanced and specialized understanding of recent developments in research-based practice in special education (K,T, P, J)
• creatively design or adjust instructional strategies based on an advanced and specialized understanding of recent developments in research-based practice in special education (K,T, P, J)
• critically reflect on advanced theory and professional practice in special education in inclusive and specialized settings (K, T, P)
• investigate, analyse, synthesise and apply learning theories to multifaceted and diverse areas of special education practice (K, T, P)
• generate and evaluate abstract, complex ideas and concepts relevant to special education theory and practice (K, T, P)
• communicate knowledge, skills, professional decisions and ideas to other special educators, educators, teacher assistants, parents and carers and other non-specialist audiences (K, C, E, J)
• generalise assessment, curriculum planning, instructional skills and research principles to new situations in professional practice and to scholarly endeavor (K, T, E, J)
• design, adapt and appraise current and emerging theory and practice (K, P)
• make expert judgements in the selection and application of evidence-based practice (P, J)
• behave with a high level of personal autonomy, adaptability and responsibility as a special educator (E, J)
• critically evaluate and apply research literature (T, P)
• implement research principles and methods relevant to the education of students with special needs (K, T, P, E, J).
Learning and Teaching Methods Throughout this program you will be encouraged to build on your existing skills and knowledge in general education or therapy practice. You will develop and generalize both practical skills and capabilities in, and a deep knowledge and understanding of, the design and selection of curriculum, teaching and assessment strategies for learners with special education needs. Your skills will be underpinned by a growing appreciation of and familiarity with the research base for evidence-based special education pedagogy. As you progress through the course, you will hone your ability to critically evaluate research evidence and to make expert, ethical, and responsible professional judgements.

You will be provided with live or on-line seminars that will include the presentation of course content, with video recordings of students in real settings. Seminars include individual and collaborative small group activities to enable you to receive feedback as you practice essential skills and build a deep understanding of the principles of effective pedagogy for students with special education needs. You will be provided with readings to build in-depth understanding of research and issues in special education. You will participate in on-line discussion with your peers to refine your skills and understanding and to exchange views on current policies and practices in special education and the application of current research literature. On-line quizzes will be available for you to monitor your own learning.

You will have the opportunity to put theory in to practice during supervised professional experience placements linked to key units and through planning and implementing an intervention as part of the capstone unit. Your understanding of research in special education will be developed throughout the course, and more particularly through the research-focussed units where you will hear active researchers present on their work.

All assessment tasks will require you to demonstrate an understanding of principles and an ability to analyse and synthesise complex ideas and concepts to problem-solve across a range of hypothetical and real scenarios. You will have the opportunity to complete a literature review in the form of a submission-ready journal article on a topic of your choice and to make presentations to your peers.
Assessment You will complete a range of assessment across the units depending on the outcomes being assessed. Assessments do not typically address rote knowledge but will require you to demonstrate practical and generalised application of knowledge and skills to clinical and research scenario. Both the progressive nature of assessment, and the structure of most of the assessment tasks is designed to encourage you to view the assessment as a learning experience as well as providing unit staff with an indication of your understanding of key concepts central to the practice of special education.

For this purpose, problem solving exercises are employed. In addition, practicum provides supervised experience where you can demonstrate your efficacy in applying concepts addressed in the course to teaching practice as well as demonstrate appropriate professional and ethical behaviour. A variety of assignment formats are employed to allow you to develop and demonstrate your critical analysis skills. At the end of the course, the program design and portfolio allows you to demonstrate your ability to apply research findings to your lived teaching practice. A number of presentations allow you to demonstrate your ability to effectively communicate with peers. As this is a level 9 program, the Research project provides you with the opportunity to develop and apply research skills to a problem of education significance.
Recognition of Prior Learning

Macquarie University may recognise prior formal, informal and non-formal learning for the purpose of granting credit towards, or admission into, a program. The recognition of these forms of learning is enabled by the University’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Policy (see and its associated Procedures and Guidelines. The RPL pages contain information on how to apply, links to registers, and the approval processes for recognising prior learning for entry or credit. 

Domestic Students
For undergraduate RPL information visit
For domestic postgraduate RPL information visit

International Students
For RPL information visit

Support for Learning

Macquarie University aspires to be an inclusive and supportive community of learners where all students are given the opportunity to meet their academic and personal goals. The University offers a comprehensive range of free and accessible student support services which include academic advice, counselling and psychological services, advocacy services and welfare advice, careers and employment, disability services and academic skills workshops amongst others. There is also a bulk billing medical service located on campus.

Further information can be found at

Campus Wellbeing contact details:
Phone: +61 2 9850 7497

Program Standards and Quality

The program is subject to an ongoing comprehensive process of quality review in accordance with a pre-determined schedule that complies with the Higher Education Standards Framework. The review is overseen by Macquarie University's peak academic governance body, the Academic Senate and takes into account feedback received from students, staff and external stakeholders.

Graduate Destinations and Employability Graduates of this program may be employed as special education teachers or in related professional areas such as disability services, post-school employment support, respite care, early intervention etc.

There is a chronic shortage of qualified special educators across Australia.

All students complete two practicum placements in special education settings and SPED828, the capstone unit, is based on working with students with special education needs in the student's current workplace or a practicum setting.
Assessment Regulations

This program is subject to Macquarie University regulations, including but not limited to those specified in the Assessment Policy, Academic Honesty Policy, the Final Examination Policy and relevant University Rules. For all approved University policies, procedures, guidelines and schedules visit

Accreditation This is an Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) accredited qualification.

2017 Unit Information

When offered:
S1 Day
Permission of Executive Dean of Faculty
HSC Chinese, CHN113, CHN148