UCC Adult courses

Autism Studies Online - Dip

About This Course

Fact File

Course Outline

Adult Continuing Education (ACE) at UCC is delighted to offer this new and innovative Diploma based online.  This course is 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, challenges and conceptualizations. Mental health and wellbeing will be examined as well the various supports and interventions that are available for people on the spectrum across their lifespan, and the legislation and policies that govern best practice.

Once students have successfully completed year one they can automatically progress to year two. During the second year of the programme students will explore theories and models of autism, how autism is perceived and portrayed by society and the media; the role of the law and legislative changes and daily living experiences of those with ASD. On completion of year two students will receive a level seven Diploma in Autism Studies.

Candidates who successfully complete first year may opt not to proceed to year two and may request to exit the programme with a Certificate in Autism Studies. Students will complete 30 credits per year of the programme.



Additional Teaching Mode Information

MODULES ARE AS FOLLOWS FOR THE ONLINE OFFERING; please click on the blue YEAR 1 and YEAR 2 boxes above for full details

 Year 1Year 2
Module Code Online                    AD1039


Course Practicalities


Lectures will be delivered entirely online via UCC’s virtual learning environment. All lectures will be pre-recorded for the online learner and released on a weekly basis as the course progresses. Lectures can be viewed at any time, from anywhere, and as often as desired.  Detailed lecture notes will accompany each lecture as well as recommended reading. Each week a learning activity will be provided to the learner which will focus and foster active learning directly relevant to the weekly topic. This will usually take the form of a knowledge check and quiz. Discussion forums will be used on a weekly basis which will involve the lecturer and the learners discussing various topics related to the module. The discussion forum is an academic online ‘chat room’ where students can ask questions publically which ensures collaborative and enhanced learning for all. The module lecturers will be available to answer your queries as the relevant module is running and our communications policy ensures a response within 48 hours, Monday – Friday.

Course commitment: An ability to manage and allocate time to course content each week is necessary. Students are expected to participate in the discussion forum weekly and encouraged to utilize this to interact with course lecturers, tutors and other students, here they can discuss content and engage in module material.


  • This course is assessed entirely by continuous assessment.  There will be an assignment in each of your modules which will be submitted on successful completion of each module. There are no end of year examinations.
  • 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 has given me an enormous sense of achievement, a sense of empowerment and a sense of self-belief."



Find Out More

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 or equivalent).  There is no need to hold a teaching degree or similar qualification to apply.

This course is designed for those with an interest in studying autism. This includes students exploring a change of career path or wishing to develop their current knowledge, students with a diagnosis of ASD themselves, family members or anyone with a personal and/or professional interest in the area of autism. 

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 (which can be arranged through Skype). 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 (maximum one page).

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.


To access and interact with the course content, assignments and assessments etc. students will require access to a PC/ Laptop. I-pads and notebooks are generally not compatible for full content visibility.  They must also have access to a modern standards compliant web browser and strong internet connectivity. UCC recommends either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. To engage productively and successfully with the content, basic technical computer skills such as familiarity with word processing, web browsing and email is recommended.

Fees and Costs

€1,500 for the online programme per academic year.

For further information on fees and financial supports please click here.

How Do I Apply

During your online application you will be required to upload the following documents:

  • Personal Statement
  • Birth Cert or Passport
  • Passport Photograph 
  • Proof of previous education to a minimum of Leaving Certificate/FETAC Level 5 qualification (or equivalent)  
  • English Language Test Report [if applicable]

Places are limited for this course so submit your applications early. 

NOTE: Once you have selected your course your application saves automatically.  If you don't complete your application in one session you can access your draft application in the "My Applications" section of the UCC360 application portal. The My Applications section will also keep you updated on the status of your application.

Year 1 Modules

  • AD1039: 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.
  • AD1040: 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.
  • AD1041: Interventions and Supports Across the Lifespan (10 credits)
    Key approaches in the education of people with autism throughout the lifespan; diverse approaches to inclusion.
  • AD1042: Policy and Practice (5 credits)
    Overview of relevant legislation and policies; best practice guidelines; models of service; monitoring practice, policy and standards.
  • AD1043: 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.

Year 2 Modules

  • AD2023: 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'.
  • AD2024: 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.
  • AD2025: 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.
  • AD2026: 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

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact