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Master in Autism


The structure and format of this programme provide postgraduate students with the foundational understanding of autism and the educational methods to assist autistic individuals as well as to acquire the practical knowledge of context and culture.  By understanding and articulating the definition, characteristics, types, identification, epidemiological and etiological issues of individuals on the autistic spectrum, students will also tackle the accommodations and modifications of teaching strategies used to raise the quality of teaching and training. The programme also acknowledges the importance of research and how vital it is to promote contribution to the field regionally and globally. With AGU's vision to lead in the area of research, students are encouraged to achieve their foremost potentials.

  1. To provide students at both educational levels (high diploma and master's degree) with advanced knowledge, information and competencies related to the field of autism.
  2. To motivate postgraduate students to follow a deep approach to learning with respect to developing a more sophisticated concept of the autism spectrum.
  3. To deeply embed the culture of research, teaching and learning skills in which a balance and interactions between them is encouraged.
  4. To identify supportive learning environment, strategies and understand the foundations and literature related to the field of autism.
  5. To provide professional development of teaching skills to ensure high quality learned by high diploma and masters' students in the field of autism.
  6.  To enhance the effectiveness of the postgraduate students' role in serving their Gulf community through maintaining a high quality education, practices and experience in the unique field of autism.
  7. To promote activities which support the enhancement of the quality of teaching and learning as well as academic career development among the postgraduate students at both masters and diploma.
  8. To encourage the growing recognition of the importance of research in the professional and personal development in the field of autism.​

              1. Consider reports of internal, external and international evaluation committees in the autism programme.
              2. To continue restructuring and developing plan of studies.
              3. Improvement of specialized courses offered in the autism programme which follow the latest research and give an insight into current practice.
              4. Keep up to date global developments in the field of autism offered by well-established international universities in this area.
              5. Respond to the needs of the Gulf and Arab community as well as to the educational institutions to increase interest in the knowledge, skills and practical aspects demonstrated by the autism programme.
              6. Provide academic knowledge, research skills and training competencies to create credentialed graduates.
              7. Establish outstanding academic programme to ensure the students' continuous development and growth.


              The objectives listed above may be achieved through the following mechanisms:

              1. Support and development of cognitive competencies: This mechanism deals with forming and shaping the theoretical foundations for the field of autism with respect to concepts, definitions, problems and issues experienced in this area, in addition to the principles and methods of early identification and diagnosis of individuals with autism, as well as the neurological and cognitive foundations, their factors and causes.
              2. Support and development of educational competencies: This mechanism includes principles and methods of therapeutic training, programme planning, strategies, appropriate curriculum and diagnostic approaches, in addition to identifying the most widely used and credible tests and diagnostic tools in the area of autism.
              3. Support and development of skills and professional competencies: This mechanism addresses the educational applications of cognitive competencies, principles of applying tools, methods of analysis and interpretation of results and a list of appropriate professional reports. Furthermore, this mechanism seeks to establish communication with others concerned with autism such as parents, teachers, doctors, psychologists, sociologists and school administrators.
              4. Support and development of skill and research competencies: This theme deals with training students to detect and identify research issues, select measurement instruments, identify participants for data collection, implement appropriate procedures, monitor and analyze data, present and interpret results. Based on that, credible and vital recommendations as well as educational applications related to the field of autism can be made.
              5. Support and development of specialized competencies: This theme deals with the formation, support and development of the use of terminology, tools and mechanisms, knowledge of intra-and inter-groups and categories of dual diagnosis addressed by specialists in this field through research and study.

              Moreover, to convert competencies included in the categories mentioned above into operational competencies as the following examples illustrate how students will be able to:

              • Express theoretical and practical knowledge applicable to the field of autism.
              • Understand the interconnections and relationships among different dimensions of knowledge in this field.
              • Employ knowledge, experience and skills gained in addressing vital issues.
              • Use written, spoken and perceived knowledge media.
              • Work with a group or individually with various categories of people with autism.
              • Link theory, research findings and studies to encourage practices and field applications.
              • Adopt positive professional attitudes and practical application mechanisms.
              • Confirm the responsibilities of the social role assigned to the researchers.
              • Employ modern technologies in early identification and diagnosis of individuals with autism.
              • Plan programmes and services that help in the identification, diagnosis and treatment of people with autism.

              ​Course reference

              Course Title

              Credit Hours

              First year

              1st semester

              LRD    522

              Introduction to Special Education


              LRD    525

              Applications of Tests and Scales in Learning and Developmental Disabilities


              LRD  ID  533

              Fundamentals of Intellectual Disability


              LRD  ID   524 

              Fundamentals of Early Intervention


              LRD  ID  537

              Fundamentals of Autism Disorder


                GS  ES     520

              Introduction of  Educational Statistics


                GS  ES     501



              GS        500

              Islamic Culture


              Total credits for first semester


              First year

              2nd  semester

              LRD  ID  528

              Diagnosis and Assessment of Developmental Disabilities


              LRD  ID  529

              Teaching Strategies of Developmental Disabilities 


              LRD  ID  626

              Family Counseling for Developmental Disabilities


              LRD  ID  621

              Behavior Management and Modification


              LRD  ID  521



              GS ES   620

              Inferential Statistics and its Applications


              GS ES   621

              Educational Research Methods


              LRD 506

              Research Seminar


              Total credits  for  2nd semester


              Total credits for 1st year


              LRD 680

              Master Thesis


              Total credits for Master



              Courses Description​​

              Shared Courses (learning disabilities, intellectual disability, autism)

              LRD  522​  Introduction to Special Education  2 Cr. hours​   

              The objective of this course is to provide students with basic knowledge and information related to concepts in special education with special focus on different approaches in understanding, clarifying human behavior, identification, content, strategies, and application of special education,   in addition to issues commonly encountered when addressing the needs of diverse students with disabilities. Emphasis will be placed on several issues, for example types of disabilities such as intellectual disability, autism and hearing impairment, as well as the causes and prevention. Furthermore, beliefs and attitudes such as the traditional beliefs, advocacy and support services will be explained and discussed. Students will learn how to form their own views and attitudes towards individuals with disabilities.​

              LRD  525​  Applications of Tests and Scales in Learning and Developmental Disabilities  2 Cr. hours​   

              The objective of this course is to provide students with general knowledge and important skills related to measuring psycho-educational aspects of learning and developmental disabilities.  Students will become familiar with test structure and development and their application with intellectually disabled, autistic persons, and learning disabilities persons.  The course will also provide students with important skills needed for proper use of educational and psychological tests including introduction to tests, measurement and their types, preparation and design of tests, general principles of measurement, reliability, validity, norms, test application in different aspects, cognitive, performance, as well as social and personality tests.  This course will also focus on issues and problems related to the evaluation process of individuals with intellectual disabilities, autism disorders, and learning disabilities persons.​

              GS  ES  520​  Introduction of Educational Statistics  2 Cr. hours​   

              This course introduces students to types of variables that are common in education and psychology such as quantitative, qualitative, continuous, discrete, nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio. In addition, the course focuses on methods of describing data using frequency tables, graphs, central tendency, variability, and kurtosis indices.

               GS  ES  620  Inferential Statistics and its Applications  2 Cr. hours​   

              The course provides the basics of statistical estimation, statistical sampling, testing hypotheses, the level of significance, and statistical decision-making including comparisons of the two statistical errors: Type I and Type II errors. In addition, the course covers testing hypotheses of the differences between means, variances, correlations, and proportions for the independent and correlated cases using parametric and nonparametric techniques. SPSS is heavily used in the course.​

              GS  ES  501 English  0 Cr. hours​   

              This mandatory general English course aims to promote students’ skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking by focusing on comprehension, grammar, vocabulary and deriving word meaning from context.  This course also teaches students the different writing stages while promoting critical thinking skills and expressing opinions, as well as building communication skills.
              In addition, students are taught how to use the English language for other academic purposes including research writing, using charts, graphs and other diagrams to figure out general ideas from texts.  Students are also trained to use presentation skills and are given the opportunity to deliver their own full presentations in English during the course of study. 

              GS  500  Islamic Culture  0 Cr. hours​   

              This course is intended to acquaint students with issues pertaining to Islamic culture and civilization, the challenges of modernity, the requirements of development in the Islamic world and the main currents of modern Islamic thought.  The analytical approach of the course enables students to think independently and participate in objective dialogue, with equal emphasis on connecting Islamic principles with issues of our modern age, and to enhance interactions between the requirements of Islamic culture and those of modernity in shaping the minds of modern Muslim students.​

              LRD ID  521  Practicum  2 Cr. hours​   

              This course provides students with opportunities to implement what they have learned in their courses offered during the academic year in all three programmes. They spend sufficient time in specialized centers and schools to get hands on experience with the students struggling with learning and developmental disabilities. They are expected to be able to implement what they have learned in Teaching Strategies Course for all programmes, such as designing Individualised Educational Plan (IEP) and use teaching methods which best fit the students. In addition, learners have to produce and implement awareness programs to children, teachers and parents.​

              GS ES  621  Educational Research Methods  2 Cr. hours​   

              The course familiarizes students with scientific thinking and research methods applied in educational and psychological studies. It also equips students with the knowledge and skills needed in conducting research. Students are expected to be able to identify research problem, construct research questions and discuss relevant assumptions, and define and classify research variables. Also, students are expected to design a research study and follow the appropriate procedures for carrying it out. Finally, students are expected to appropriately use and cite references.

              LRD  506  Research Seminar  0 Cr. hours​   

              The course familiarizes students with a methods of selecting a research topic and the necessary elements and resources of the research plan. In this course students will be trained on the scientific standards of criticizing other research studies and theses related to Learning and Developmental Disabilities. Also, students will be trained on summarizing and presenting Arabic and English research studies and theses.  This course highlights some of the research problems that need further research as well as the importance of ethics in research.  By the end of this course, students will have a suggested plan proposal for their master thesis.​​

              Autism Courses 

              LRD ID 533  Fundamentals of Intellectual Disabilities  3 Cr. hours​   

              The course familiarizes students with a methods of selecting a research topic and the necessary elements and resources of the research plan. In this course students will be trained on the scientific standards of criticizing other research studies and theses related to Learning and Developmental Disabilities. Also, students will be trained on summarizing and presenting Arabic and English research studies and theses.  This course highlights some of the research problems that need further research as well as the importance of ethics in research.  By the end of this course, students will have a suggested plan proposal for their master thesis.​​

              LRD ID 524  Fundamentals of Early Interventions  2 Cr. hours​   

              The objective of this course is to shed light on the importance of early intervention with intellectual disabled and/ or autistic young children by emphasizing the importance of the family. In addition, students are introduced to important theories, programs and strategies of early intervention in order to create an elevated state of mind that understands the concept and is able to deal with both the involved child and their family in a professional manner.  The course's subject matter evolves around the theoretical foundations in identifying the concepts of early intervention, the importance and relevance of early intervention, programs of interventional therapy, strategies of early intervention, different manners of services, the importance of family when it comes to early intervention, evaluation of early intervention and training emphasized on real life case studies.

              LRD ID 537  Fundamentals of Autism Disorder  3 Cr. hours​   

              The objective of this course is to provide students with the knowledge and basic concepts in autism disorder, both in terms of definition, prevalence, clinical picture, causal factors, different characteristics of people with autism, and the methods and tools used in diagnosis and assessment of autism and similar cases. The theoretical approaches covered (Neural, Psychodynamic & Cognitive) explain the various symptoms of autism, as well as provide programs and methods of intervention used for the development of communication skills as well as social and academic skills.​

              LRD ID 528  Diagnosis and Assessment of Developmental Disabilities  2 Cr. hours​   

              The objectives of this course are to provide students with knowledge and information related to theories and different strategies in diagnosing individuals with autism. Students also acquire basic skills in diagnosis and are trained to evaluate strengths and weaknesses on all aspects, cognitive, educational, social and emotional.​

              LRD ID 529  Teaching Strategies of Developmental Disabilities  2 Cr. hours​   

              The objectives of this course are to provide students with different teaching strategies in the field of autism, with a focus on the identification of different concepts and terms which are related to teaching strategies in general, and to identify the different teaching in intervention strategies used with autistic individuals, such as visual, sensory, cognitive and social intervention strategies.  Effective programs of teaching and intervention, such as social interaction and life skills, are also covered.  In addition, the course focuses on identifying the individual educational plan in terms of elements of behavioral objectives; specifically, identifying the appropriate educational plan for students with autism, steps to integrate the plan in regular schools, strategies that facilitate successful integration of these students, and identifying problems associated with the integration of autistic students and solving strategies.​

              LRD ID 626 Family Counseling for Developmental Disabilities  2 Cr. hours​   

              The course focuses on family counseling concepts, different definitions of counselor skills, special needs of intellectually disabled and autistic individuals, strategies of counseling, challenges faced by parents of disabled children and their needs and how to deal with those challenges. It alsofocuses on the counselor parent relationship, and suitable training offered to parents of disabled individuals and how to establish sufficient communication among disabled individuals, their parents and the professionals.​

              LRD ID 621 Behavior Management and Modification  2 Cr. hours​   

              The objective of this course is to provide students with theoretical concepts and its application in student behavior management, different strategies for managing and modifying student behavior, training students on basic skills, and designing a plan to modify the behavior of a child with developmental disabilities. Concepts covered include basic principles of behavior management & modification theoretical approaches, designing a behavior modification plan, and its applications in the field of developmental disabilities.​​