Music and Children with Special Needs: Sounds of Intent Postgraduate degree

Music and Children with Special Needs:Sounds of Intent

An introduction to the Sounds of Intent framework of musical development for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

Start Date:

September 2023


1 year (part-time)

Degree Type:


Number of credits:

60 master's level credits



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Course and Module Details


Music and Children with Special Needs: Sounds of Intent offers students an introduction to the framework of musical development for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). At the same time, the ‘Sounds of Intent’ programme offers professional development for music practitioners interested in working with children with learning difficulties. The idea of reflective practice lies at the heart of this innovative course.

This part-time, postgraduate certificate is an internationally unique opportunity to be part of the most exciting new area of work currently happening in the field of music and special educational needs. You will be introduced to the ‘Sounds of Intent’ music-developmental framework and learn how to use the resources and assessment tool available through the website. The course has both theoretical and practical elements, and is assessed through essays, a portfolio of work and a placement. It is available both through face-to-face delivery and fully online.

The resource has taken over 10 years to research and develop, involving hundreds of practitioners from across the special education sector. The tool is made up of three components, an online assessment tool, a curriculum framework and downloadable resources. This course will develop and train students in terms of their academic and practical skills in music provision, using both fundamental theoretical and research issues, and providing opportunities for the application of new knowledge within your own professional context. For example, you will be able to develop and design a music curriculum for children with learning difficulties using Sounds of Intent materials, and lead and advise on the use of music and the materials in your organisation, for the benefit of students.

You will be introduced to a range of techniques required to promote the musical development of children with Special Educational Needs, as well as developing an understanding of the learning development of children with SEND. You will also learn how to assess students’ needs using Sounds of Intent materials. There is a focus on students being able to reflect on their practice and use these to improve their outcomes.

Course content

The postgraduate certificate comprises three modules, each lasting one term: ‘An introduction to Sounds of intent’, ‘Using Sounds of Intent in the field’ and ‘Using Sounds of Intent for Curriculum Development'.

There is a focus across all modules on students using the Sounds of Intent materials in their professional contexts from the beginning of the course. You will initially do a pilot assessment of six pupils or clients, completing the online activities with them, before you reflect on your outcomes, and compare these to a piece of academic research carried out with Sounds of Intent. You will be supported in these activities with two days of lectures explaining the use of the materials, and covering issues of observations, recording evidence and ethics.

As the course progresses, you will be supported in a longer project, of eight weeks, of assessing a further six pupils or clients. You will have regular contact with staff in the Department of Education, who will help you to reflect on your practice, and jointly you will find ways to ensure that you are developing at the same time as supporting effectively the development of your pupils.

Finally, there will be a chance for students to reflect on their individual abilities and experience of using the Sounds of Intent framework, so that professional growth can be extended beyond the end of the course.



These modules are those we currently offer and may be subject to change each year.

Tuition fees and funding

September 2023 entry tuition fees

Follow the links in table below for more information.

UK EU and International
£2,500 £4,960

Career Options

The Sounds of Intent qualification will support those seeking work in special schools, or with pupils/students with special educational needs/disabilities, and community music contexts.

How to apply

Postgraduate programmes

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All postgraduate taught applications can be made via our online application form.

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International students
Please note that most international applicants have to pay a deposit before securing their place.

  • See our Finance pages for more details

Postgraduate application process FAQs


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We have general entry requirements for postgraduate courses. Many of our courses also have specific entry requirements. You can find details of these, and the fees for individual courses, on our postgraduate course pages.

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Find out more on our accommodation pages

More Information

Professor Adam Ockelford
07818 456 472

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