Skip to main content

Unit information: Exploring and Understanding Autism in 2021/22

Unit name Exploring and Understanding Autism
Unit code EDUC30047
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Sedgewick
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Education
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit is designed to teach students about Autism Spectrum Disorder, including diagnostic information and genetic contributions. We will examine the cognitive underpinnings of behaviour, with a specific focus on differences in theory of mind, executive functioning, and weak central coherence, and how these contribute to an ‘autistic profile’. We will also consider social theories of autism, mental health among autistic people, and those who are generally excluded from autism research. We will review and evaluate interventions used in classroom settings (e.g. PECS, TEACCH, ABA), as well as those which aim to support the development of social and daily living skills.

The lectures, seminars, discussions and activities are aimed at improving knowledge of autism and autistic people. The seminars are designed to provide the skills to complete the assessments to the best, discussing a range of critiques and approaches to research.

The unit aims to enable students to:

  • Be able to critically engage with autism diagnostic criteria, evaluating their usefulness in different populations and contexts
  • Critique and evaluate classic and modern theories of autism in the context of empirical research
  • Develop a critical awareness of research methods and their application in the autism community
  • Evaluate the implications of autism research, theories, and interventions for education policy and practice

Intended learning outcomes

The unit will support students to improve their knowledge of autism. Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will demonstrate that they can:

  1. Understand the diagnostic features of autism and how it is clinically evaluated
  2. Critically analyse theories of autism and how these relate to behaviour
  3. Evaluate current interventions for autistic people and their efficacy
  4. Synthesise psychological theory with educational applications
  5. Show awareness of relevant ethical issues regarding research with vulnerable populations

Teaching details

This unit will consist of a mix of lectures and seminars, with synchronous and asynchronous components. Group discussions will contribute to summative assessments, and exam prep clinics will be offered in multiple formats.

Assessment Details

Summative Assessment 1 - Exam, 100% - ILOs 1-5 Two-hour exam.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. EDUC30047).