UCC Adult courses

Autism Studies

About This Course

Fact File

  • Title

    Autism Studies

  • Code


  • College

    Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, Adult Continuing Education

  • Duration

    2 years

  • Teaching Mode


  • NFQ Level

    Level 6/7

  • NFQ Award Title

    Special Purpose

  • Fees

    €1,250 for UCC venue per academic year and €990 per academic year for outreach venues See Fees and Costs for full details.

  • Entry Requirements

    Candidates must be at least 21 years of age by 1 January of the year of application. See Requirements for full details.

  • Closing Date


  • Next Intake

    September 2018 (TBC)

  • Venue


  • Start Date


Course Outline

Adult Continuing Education (ACE) at UCC is delighted to offer this new and innovative course, which was shortlisted for an Aontas STAR Award, designed to introduce you to the different ways in which people on the autistic spectrum experience the world. You will learn about the history of autism, the different strengths and challenges of autism, and how autism affects a person’s mental health and their daily living. You will examine the various supports and interventions that are available for people on the spectrum across their lifespan and explore the legislation and policies that govern best practice. You will explore how a person with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may contribute positively to society. The different perceptions and conceptualizations of autism will also be discussed, as well as theories which attempt to explain this condition that has been described as ‘puzzling and fascinating’ by researchers.

Venues September 2017:

  • UCC
  • Limerick
  • Kilkenny
  • Donegal

Course Practicalities

Lectures will be delivered one evening a week, with occasional Saturday sessions. Students will be given recommended reading (usually a short paper), but are free to explore beyond the set texts. For further information regarding the Limerick outreach venue please contact:

Ms Christine Chasaide
E: c.chasaide@ucc.ie
T: +353 (0)87 9461472 


This course is assessed entirely by continuous assessment.  Assignments include a journal article review, a legal case study, a reflective log and an academic essay as well as learning journals

Who teaches this course

Lectures will be delivered by a diverse and highly qualified lecturing team, which may include academics, researchers, clinical psychologists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, support workers and those involved in policy. Some of our lecturing team have a diagnosis of ASD themselves. This diversity ensures students are given a wide range of perspectives on many important issues that may not be found in other courses.

Why Choose This Course

This course is open to all with an interest in learning more about autism. Unlike some other university level courses, the only prerequisite is a Level 5 qualification (such as the Leaving Certificate).  There is no need to hold a teaching degree or similar qualification to apply.

This course is designed for anyone with an interest in studying autism. This includes people with autism themselves, as well as those who are working, caring, volunteering or unemployed who want to develop an understanding of the issues affecting the lives of peoples who experience ASD. It also includes people who have changed or want to change their career path. You will also develop your writing and academic skills, which are useful in many career paths (not just those which involve working with people on the spectrum).

Students who successfuly complete the Diploma the Autism Studies are then eligible to apply for the Higher Diploma Facilitating Inclusion, more information about this programme can be found here: Facilitating Inclusion - Disability Studies


  • Candidates must be at least 21 years of age by 1 January of the year of application
  • Hold Leaving Certificate/FETAC Level 5 qualification (or equivalent)
  • Candidates who do not hold a Leaving Certificate/FETAC Level 5 qualification but have experience of Autism Spectrum Disorder will be considered
  • Candidates may be required to attend for interview. Shortlisting may apply
  • English Language Requirement: All applicants whose first language is not English must have attained IELTS Level6 or the equivalent TOEFL score
  • Applicants will be asked to submit a Personal Statement, detailing their motivation to take this course and any work or life experience relevant to the subject of ASD

Diploma programmes are offered subject to a minimum number of eligible applicants registering for the programme. Following completion of year 1 of this programme, should a sufficient number of eligible students not wish to progress form year 1 to year 2 of this programme as to make the year 2 viable, students will graduate with a certificate at that point. Programme viability is determined by reference to fee income and applicable costs in running the programme.


Fees and Costs

€1,250 for UCC venue per academic year and €990 per academic year for outreach venues

How Do I Apply

Applications will open in May/June 2018.

Year 1 Modules

  • AD1009: Autism in a Historical and Contemporary context (5 credits)
    A history of autism: the concept and diagnosis of the 'autistic spectrum': autism as a social construction: medical and psychological theories of autism; autism and the social model of disability, perceptions of autism.
  • AD1010: Policy and Practice (5 credits)
    Overview of relevant legislation and policies; best practice guidelines; models of service; monitoring practice, policy and standards.
  • AD1019: Autism, Mental Health and Wellbeing (5 credits)
    The effect of ASD on an individual's mental health; explore the possibilities of receiving differentiated diagnosis between ASD and mental issues; living with ASD and mental health issues for families, services and society; promoting well-being for people with ASD and their families.
  • AD1036: Strengths and Challenges of Autism (5 credits)
    The triad of impairments at different stages of development; sensory and motor difficulties; emotions, relationships and sexuality; living with autism; autism in the workplace and community; different ways in which people on the autistic spectrum experience the world.
  • AD1037: Interventions and Supports across the Lifespan (10 credits)
    Key approaches in the education of people with autism throughout the lifespan; diverse approaches to inclusion.

Year 2 Modules

  • AD2016: Theories and Models of Autism (10 credits)
    Syndrome models (Kanner, Asperger, triad/ dyad), cognitive (theory of mind, executive function, weak central coherence), psychological / psychoanalytical, biological (hormonal, 'extreme male brain', genetic causes), autism and the social model of disability, the concept of 'neurodiversity'.
  • AD2017: Perceptions and Portrayals (5 credits)
    Novels, art, movies and television shows which depict autism, the role of social media, the portrayal of autism in the news media, the language of autism.
  • AD2018: Autism, Citizenship and the Law (5 credits)
    The hierarchy of Irish law and legislative change. Legal framework providing services and conferring rights on people with autism. Concepts of citizenship, autonomy and decision-making. The history of citizenship and concepts of citizenship for disabled people, with reference to autonomy, resources and participation in society and employment. Adovcacy and assisted decision-making. Landmark legal cases regarding autism and disability in Ireland.
  • AD2019: Autism and Daily Living (10 credits)
    Emotions, family, relationships and sexuality; the economic, educational and social impact of autism; the various factors that affect people who have autism and the impact on daily living.

Year 3 Modules

Year 4 Modules