MASPED Master of Special Education – Sustainability, inclusion and participation

Master of Special Education – Sustainability, inclusion and participation

    • Number of credits
    • Part-time/full-time
    • Start semester
      2024 Autumn
    • Language of instruction
    • Campus

Successful completion of the programme of study gives the title Master of Special Education.

This is a part-time programme with a duration of three (3) years and 120 stp credits (240 UK Credits). The Master’s programme will be delivered digitally in a series of six intensive study blocks over the three years of study. Students will complete one course per semester, with five voluntary meetings and three compulsory teaching seminars each semester. Teaching will take place at Inland Norway University of Applied Science, Lillehammer, but all sessions will be streamed online.

Programme structure and content

The Master’s programme will be delivered in a series of six intensive study blocks over the three years of study. Students will be expected to complete a series of tasks, and learning activities to include academic reading, reflective peer learning and assignments in between the formal study blocks.

  • Course 1: SPED4001 Historical and Contemporary paradoxes and perspectives in special education. 15 stp
  • Course 2: SPED4002 Philosophy of science and research methods. 15 stp
  • Course 3: SPED4003 Theoretical approaches to special education. 15 stp 
  • Course 4: SPED4004 Participation, Marginalization, and inclusion. 15 stp
  • Course 5: SPED4005 Sustainability, social justice and special education 15 stp
  • Course 6: SPED4006 Master’s thesis 45stp


Course Models
Master of Special Education – Sustainability, inclusion and participation
About the study

The Western educational systems in general and the traditional field of special education, in particular, are based on a mechanistic and reductionist paradigm that no longer fits today's rapidly changing and increasingly complex world. This master's programme will explore traditional ways of understanding special education but, more importantly, introduce alternative theories and perspectives to the field of special education.           

This master's programme in special education will provide students with in-depth knowledge of how philosophy, theory, and ethics enable us to analyse and critically reflect upon special education's past and current state.

By engaging with concepts such as sustainability, inclusion, and participation, this master’s programme will provide students with a conceptual understanding of change designed to be a driving force towards a society based on social justice and equality.

Learning Outcome

A candidate with a completed qualification will have the following total learning outcome defined in knowledge, skills and general competence:

Learning outcome - Knowledge


  • have a comprehensive understanding of the theory of knowledge and a critical understanding of different ideologies, paradoxes, and perspectives in special education 
  • have a comprehensive understanding of theoretical perspectives on foundational issues
  • have a comprehensive understanding of research methodology and its applicability in varied contexts in the field of special education
  • have a comprehensive understanding of how participation and marginalisation processes are created and maintained in both special education and society at large.
  • have a comprehensive understanding of the interconnectedness between special education and sustainability
Learning outcome - Skills


  • can apply relevant theory to assess the consequences of changing societal conditions for the field of special education in the scope of participatory and marginalizing processes
  • can undertake critical reflection and evaluation of academic arguments in respect of practical and theoretical problems
  • can carry out independent and original robust research, using appropriate methods
  • can communicate research findings in an effective and accessible way, orally and in writing.
  • can carry out special educational practices in an ethically and sustainable manner
Learning outcome - General competence


  • can assess the implications of societal change on children, young people, and adults' learning environment in the light of participation, inclusion, and sustainability perspectives
  • can take responsibility for their own autonomous learning and self-transformation 
  • are able to write in a coherent and accessible way 
  • can engage in innovative and sustainable activities 
  • are able to plan and deliver projects on time and to a sufficiently high quality 
Teaching and working methods

This master's programme is taught in English. Assignments and exams must, therefore, be written in English.

We aim to facilitate critical debate and evaluate existing perspectives in the field through theoretical approaches to special education. In addition, we will work on developing new and innovative theoretical approaches in the field of special education, especially concerning children and young people with learning disabilities and/or special needs.

The programme emphasizes varied forms of learning activities with focus on collaboration and student activity. Every course has a profound process orientated focus where every course build on previous courses learning processes.  Everyone must take responsibility for their own knowledge development, group assignments, and learning environment. The learning activities generally consist of lectures, seminars, group assignments, discussions, and individual written and oral presentations. The student's self-study is the basis for all learning and teaching. The syllabus is defined in each course and constitutes core material for problematization, discussion, and knowledge development.

Students are assumed to show initiative and take responsibility by participating actively in seminars and group submissions. Presentations and discussions will be emphasised. This is to establish a learning environment where everyone has the confidence to speak. Entering transformative learning processes is about learning and developing, requiring critical thinking and challenging one's preconceptions in an ongoing process throughout the programme. A future professional role will require skills to present, communicate, collaborate, and lead.

Students will have access to course content and assignments through lectures, seminars, and online resources. Tutoring is given as part of different assignments and learning processes.

All of the courses require compulsory attendance. This is specified in the course descriptions.

Different kind of assessment is used in this programme. All courses include compulsory requirements that students must pass to qualify for the examination. Additionally, the students may be given non-compulsory assignments with an offer of supervision. The intention of these assignments is to secure necessary progression in each course and ensure that they reach the defined knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies specified for each course.

The students will encounter different means of assessments, which are adapted to the peculiarity of each subject. The students will be presented with various challenges as they progress through the programme. 

Target group

This programme is suitable for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in areas related to human relations/development/learning e.g., special education, social work, welfare and education. But most importantly, this programme requires that the applicant must have a minimum of 2 years full time relevant work experience with children and/or adults within an educational context.

Admission requirements

Bachelor's degree or equivalent education and at least 2 years' work experience

The applicant must upload the following documents in their application:

  • Bachelor’s degree diploma with transcript (Degree must meet the requirements of the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education)
  • A reflective essay on your theoretical skill, describing your experience and its relevance to the programme (maximum 1200 words)
  • Work certificate confirming a minimum of 2 years full-time relevant work experience with children and/or adults within an educational context. This must be written by your employer. CV is not accepted. The certificate must state if it is full-time or if it is part-time (if part-time; hours or work percentage must be included in the reference).
  • If you are not a Norwegian citizen: A copy of your passport

The qualification and ranking of the applicants will be based on the documents requested above. If there are more qualified applicants than available spots in the programme, candidates could be subject to an additional admission interview.

Language requirements

Applicants must document their proficiency in English at a certain level. The English language requirements apply to all except applicants native to the UK, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, or the Nordic countries, who do not require to document any language proficiency.

You will find the list of accepted courses and minimum scores accepted here.

The master’s programme is taught over a period of three years. As a part-time programme, the students do not qualify for a visa to live permanently in Norway. Therefore, the costs for travel and stay are for the students themselves to cover.

The master programme is open for applicants from the EU/EEA, the Nordic counties and Norway.

Admission ranking
Applicants to the study are ranked according to the Regulations on Admission, Programmes of study and Examinations at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences
Career prospects and further studies

The programme will give you competence for a professional life that emphasizes sustainable education for people with disabilities and an understanding of how social structures can construct inclusive environments for marginalised groups. With a master’s degree in special education, you can work in various positions in, e.g., Educational and Psychological Counselling Service (PPT), child and youth support systems, kindergartens, schools, care homes and refugee reception centres. Other relevant work arenas can be public administration, care and confinement of criminals, the health and social care sector, workplace inclusion, the cultural sector, welfare administration, and employee and volunteer in various volunteer organisations.

With a master’s degree in special education, you do not have formal teaching competence in the Norwegian educational system.


This Master’s Programme in Special Education has a clear international profile. The programme is oriented towards international students and the content is relevant internationally. Students will achieve intercultural benefits throughout this program, by sharing practical work experience from their own home country and through their coursework. This creates a foundation for reflections on practice, values and thought processes.

The international profile of this study is made evident trough the following:

  • All curricula will be in English.
  • All teaching will be provided in English and conducted by both Norwegian as well as international scholars.
  • Content which is of global interest.
Information- and source competence

Students will develop skills in analysing and relating critically to various sources of information and apply these in order to structure and formulate academic reasoning. Therefore, in collaboration with the academic communities, the University Library offers advanced instruction in searching for subject-specific information, source criticism, reference techniques, and problems associated with plagiarism. It is expected that all students have a critical attitude towards sources of information and use these sources appropriately in all academic work throughout their entire course of study. Breaches of the rules regarding the use of sources are regulated in the Regulations relating to admission, studies, and examinations at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences.

Research based teaching

The courses aim to facilitate the student's development of insight into scientific research. The courses are set up in such a way that students are generally encouraged and trained in critical reflection and method evaluations through the dissemination of updated research in a broad perspective of special education both nationally and internationally. The students will meet teachers who are active researchers, and in problem-based ways of working, scientific ways of thinking will be challenged and used in discussion and dialogue. This ensures that students participate and are co-creators of the most up-to-date teaching in the field. The programme ends with the student's own research-based work: the master thesis.

Assessment methods

Each course will be completed with individual or group exams. These will be conducted in the form of written essays, oral presentation, home exam, group portfolio and a product report. The master thesis consists of a written thesis and an individual oral examination. The programme applies grades A to F in all subjects, with E as the lowest grade needed to pass. One course is graded pass/fail. A more in-depth description of the assessment criteria for each course can be found in the course description. 


Suitability requirements

The programme is committed to evaluating the student's suitability, following the regulations on aptitude assessment in higher education. Therefore, the University will conduct evaluations of each student's suitability and perquisites for the work the current programme will qualify them for. Aptitude assessment will be conducted continuously throughout the whole programme and will take place both in theoretical and more practically oriented subjects. Regulations on aptitude assessment in higher education will be presented to the students at the beginning of the first semester. Act relating to universities and university colleges - Lovdata

Faculty of Education