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Habilitation Work – Working with Children and Young People – Top Up Degree - BSc (Hons)

Habilitation workers are specialists in the practical and emotional aspects of visual impairment for children and young people. This BSc (Hons) Habilitation Work course is designed to provide rehabilitation workers with the knowledge and skills to enable children and young people to become as independent as possible, in relation to practical life skills....

Studying with us in 2021/22 and 2022/23

The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses.  Information about the arrangements for the 2021/22 academic year can be found here.  


Should the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continue in the 2022/23 academic year or subsequent years of your course, any additional and/or alternative arrangements put in place by the University in response will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

  • Level Postgraduate Taught
  • Study mode Full Time/Part Time
  • Location City South
  • Award BSc (Hons)
  • Start date September 2022
  • School School of Health Sciences
  • Faculty Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences


Habilitation workers are specialists in the practical and emotional aspects of visual impairment for children and young people. This BSc (Hons) Habilitation Work course is designed to provide rehabilitation workers with the knowledge and skills to enable children and young people to become as independent as possible, in relation to practical life skills.

Birmingham City University is currently the only university to offer a Habilitation programme to qualified Rehabilitation Workers in the United Kingdom.

This course is not open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

Working with children and young people differs greatly from working with adults with a visual impairment, as they are generally learning skills for the first time, not re-learning a task that they already know and understand.

You will explore key issues of child development, in relation to understanding the medical and functional implications of children growing up with a visual impairment.

The course is a blend of face-to-face teaching, supported with considerable interactive online materials and resources through the Universities Virtual Learning Environment - Moodle. Practice competencies will need to be demonstrated through a dedicated 20 day habilitation practice placement.

Executive members of Habilitation VI UK have been involved with the design and writing of the programme and they will deliver the majority of face-to-face lectures.

Skills and simulation workshops will encourage you to consider key issues when working in habilitation work practice, and we can offer you a wide range of placement opportunities in a large number of educational settings who support children and young people with a visual impairment.

Successful completion of this qualification (together with your original Rehabilitation Work qualification) will enable you to apply for registration with Habilitation VI UK as a registered qualified specialist Habilitation Practitioner. This will also provide you with dual qualification status and the ability to work with individuals of all ages.

Why Choose Us?

  • We are currently the only university to offer a BSc (Hons) Habilitation Work programme to qualified Rehabilitation Workers
  • This course has been running for over 20 years’ – we are highly experienced in providing training for rehabilitation workers
  • Your employability will be enhanced within your individual work setting
  • The curriculum has been designed with the National Quality Standards for the Delivery of Habilitation Training (Mobility and Independent Living Skills) for Children and Young People with Visual Impairment
  • The course is delivered by professional tutors who are rehabilitation and habilitation specialists
  • Lectures and seminars will be carried out in our brand new £41 million City South Campus
  • You will also learn from visiting lecturers who are nationally recognised for their expertise and specialist lecturers from a variety of professions, for example, optometry
  • Part of the course is delivered in a real-life setting at a school, where you will observe/work with children with a visual impairment

Where will I study?

You will be based at our brand new £41 million City South Campus in Edgbaston, located just five minutes from Birmingham City Centre. Here you will have access to state-of-the-art facilities such as a skills rooms and training kitchen, to support your developing and understanding of the subject.

There will be opportunities to observe practice and work with children with severe visual impairment at a local school.

Entry Requirements

Applications to study on the BSc (Hons) top-up course will be made directly to the admissions team. The course starts in February each year and applications will be accepted continually. Applications will be reviewed at the end of each calendar month and applicants will subsequently be contacted by the admissions tutor. Applicants wishing to apply for individual modules will complete the same process.

UK students

The key entry requirement for the BSc (Hons) programmes will be the attainment of level 4 and 5 qualifications in Rehabilitation Work (Visual Impairment).

A full list of these qualifications is offered below. Applicants will be selected on the basis of the information provided in their application forms and two submitted references.

Candidates must hold one of the following

Foundation Degree in Rehabilitation Work (Visual Impairment) – 240 credits with 120 at level 5

Diploma in Higher Education in Rehabilitation Studies (Visual Impairment) – 240 credits with 120 at level 5

Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care in Rehabilitation Studies (Visual Impairment) – 240 credits with 120 at level 5

For those students who do not hold one of the above but have evidence of a level 4 certificate: for example,

  • Rehabilitation Officer Certificate
  • Mobility Instructor and Technical Officer Certificates

These candidates will be required to submit a CPD portfolio (worth up to 60 credits) and successfully complete the level 5 (15 credit) module ‘APL/Advanced Writing Skills’ module with an associated profile of experiential learning worth up to 45 credits in advance of an offer being made.


All prospective candidates should have good working knowledge of Grade 2 Braille (equivalent of Lesson 22 in the RNIB Braille Primer).

Students who need to upgrade their Braille knowledge to encompass Unified English Braille will find supportive learning and teaching resources available on the Birmingham City University Moodle pages.

Additional programme requirements

GCSE English or equivalent

If English is not your first language an IELTS score of 6.0 overall (or equivalent) is required.

You must have access to and be able to use broadband internet and email facilities, as a proportion of the course is delivered through these media. Please see IT specifications for further information.

You must have access to people of all ages with a visual impairment through appropriate employment such as social services departments, educational establishments and voluntary sector organisations which provide rehabilitation services.

Places are subject to the Disclosure and Barring Service checks.

Fees & How to Apply

  • International students

Award: BSc (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 1 year
  • TBC
  • Part Time
  • 2 years
  • TBC

Sorry, this course is not available to International students.

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead.

Access to computer equipment

You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.


You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.

Access to Microsoft Office 365

Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.

Key Software

You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

Free access to Rosetta Stone

All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.

DBS check

If you are required to undertake a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check for this course, the cost for your first DBS check is included in your fees.

Placement expenses (mandatory)

Placements are a compulsory element of many health and teacher training courses. You'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst living or working away from home.

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Books (optional)

All module key texts will be in the University library, but in limited numbers. You may choose to purchase a copy.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

Portfolio Guidance

You can apply directly to join this course using the University online application link.

Successful applications will lead to an interview. These can be conducted via telephone although we recommend that you visit the campus.

To support your application and your prospects for being successful at selection please consider the following suggestions: 

  • Consider carefully how you will be able to commit to the course especially if you are in full time employment. You will need to consider course attendance, practice placements and observational days, independent study and your other life commitments.
  •  Observe a habilitation Worker (Visual Impairment) in your local area to learn more about the profession.      
  • Read more about the profession, for example, use web searches.

Personal statement

Students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.

Your postgraduate personal statement is going to shine a light on your personal experience, academic success, personal skills and any other factors that will support your application for further study.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Your passion and motivations

Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?

Why this course?

Show that you’ve researched the course offering. What is it about this particular course that appeals to you? Is it the lecturers? The modules? Etc.

What makes you a good postgraduate candidate?

Tutors want to know that you can handle postgraduate study, so show them how your undergraduate experiences or work life has equipped you for a more advanced level of study. Key areas to address are research and group work but this can vary depending on your chosen course.

Relevant academic or work experience

Add anything relevant that relates back to your chosen course and shows how your skills will contribute towards your learning. What extra-curricular activities have you taken part in? What awards have you won? What employment or voluntary experience do you have that has helped you develop transferable skills? How do these specifically relate to the course you are applying for?

You should also mention your future plans and how a postgraduate qualification fits in. Try to look beyond your postgraduate study – do you plan to jump straight into a specific career or follow your studies with a research degree? Lastly, use plain, professional English and, where possible, utilise the language of your chosen industry.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

Course in Depth


In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits).

Children will develop and learn in their own unique way. You will develop specialist knowledge, critical thought and the analysis of theory to identify the potential impact of visual impairment on children’s development. In addition, the module will also concentrate on young people including those with complex needs. Content will include physical, emotional and social development as well as the development of realistic independence.

You will develop the ability to make decisions about your professional practice based upon the best evidence available. Personal professional development will be explored so that you can research and evaluate innovative practices to improve the achievement of sight impaired and seriously sight impaired children and young people. The aim is for you to draw from the evidence base to inform your future practice and that of your colleagues.

The module will introduce theory and experiential practice in relation to the application of assessment and learning and teaching concepts regarding Orientation and Mobility instruction. The teaching of low vision skills and low vision aids will feature in relation to this. You will be required to demonstrate the ability to formulate appropriate teaching programmes for a young person with a visual impairment and additional/ complex needs.

This module will equip you with the knowledge and skills to enable you to facilitate children who are sight impaired/severely sight impaired (with additional/complex needs) to achieve levels of independence appropriate to their age and abilities. The module will introduce theory and experiential practice in relation to the application of assessment and learning and teaching concepts in relation to daily living skills for primary and secondary age children.

The course is a blend of face to face teaching blocks, independent study and work-based learning placements.

  • Face to face teaching blocks
  • Independent study
  • Practice placements and observational days
  • Assessment

Face to face teaching blocks

Teaching is organised into four week-long blocks for the full time course option and two weeks per year for the two year part time option. These intensive Group Learning weeks (GL weeks) give you the advantage of uninterrupted training in a convenient form. This allows you to travel to Birmingham from all over the UK to attend teaching weeks. During these weeks many students stay in local hotel accommodation.

There will be interactive classroom based lectures, group discussions, debates and presentations that may range from the application of theoretical concepts to the study of practical habilitation programmes. Due to the nature of the role, you will experience many practical teaching sessions through simulation activities in order to ensure that you are adequately prepared for practice.

In addition, during these weeks, you’ll have the chance to take part in the following activities:

  • Skills practice time in our resource rooms and training kitchens.
  • Group sessions.
  • One to one tutorials.
  • Library research sessions.
  • IT support and training.
  • Support with academic writing.

The part time study route is recommended for individuals in full time employment.

Independent study

When away from University, we recommend you have at least one or two study days per week. This is to allow dedicated time for independent study and observation of practice days.

All the course and module information can be accessed and downloaded from our virtual learning environment called, Moodle.  Moodle is updated with useful information, key resources, assessment briefs and forthcoming teaching resources. You can interact with other students via online forums to discuss module content and to ask general questions to course tutors. Your assignments will also be submitted through Moodle.

Practice placements and observational days

You will complete a 20 practice placement days towards the end of your course. This is so that you can demonstrate your competence in delivering Habilitation services of a high standard.

Throughout the course you will also complete 10 observations of practice days. This is the opportunity to shadow and learn from experienced practitioners who are delivering a range of different service for children and young people with a visual impairment.


You will be provided with detailed assessment instructions through dedicated face-to-face assessment briefing sessions and written assessment documents.

The course team use a broad mix of assessment methods to reflect the types of work students will be doing in practice. These include:

  • Written assignments
  • Placement portfolios
  • Viva voce (oral question and answer exams)
  • Case study analysis
  • Presentations
Accreditation or professional associations

Successful completion of this course enables you to apply for Qualified Habilitation Specialist   status through Habilitation VI UK (Formerly Mobility and Independence Specialists in Education – the voluntary professional body)

The course is recognised by the Rehabilitation Workers Professional Network (RWPN). You will be given free membership of this organisation whilst you are studying on the course. This will allow you access to their online resources and a discounted entrance fee for the Birmingham City University and RWPN national conference.


Enhancing Employability Skills

You will progress and develop to become a pro-active, highly effective problem solver whose reflective and evidence based practice will enhance future service provision through the delivery of high standards of professional practice

Embedding contributions, feedback and knowledge of best practice from practice partners, stakeholders and recognised experts; the applications of the theoretical principles in habilitation practice settings will enable you to work effectively as part of a multi-disciplinary team.

You will participate in inter-professional learning to broaden your intellectual, analytical and judgement skills and enhance your communication with and awareness of diversity in culture and lifestyle amongst colleagues and children and young people

You will demonstrate the competence required to practice as a specialist habilitation worker with the transferable skills, knowledge and ability to be a leading practitioner who is able to work with a diverse range of children and young people who have a visual impairment and associated needs.

Through engagement with the evidence base and incorporating opportunities to consider global habilitation, perspectives are considered to enable you to practice effectively and to ensure that you are sensitive to the needs of the diverse cultures that you may encounter.

Successful completion of this accredited course enables you to apply for registration with Habilitation VI UK, the professional body, for Qualified Habilitation Specialist status. Combined with your existing rehabilitation qualification – you would be recognised as ‘dual qualified’ and able to work with individuals of all ages.


Ten days of observations of practice and the final placement are crucial aspects of the course. Observational days enable you to observe and learn from a wide range of experts who provide children and young people services. These might include habilitation workers, qualified teachers for the visually impaired and optometrists. These days are threaded throughout the course.

The practice placement is for twenty days towards the end of the course. You will be linked with a school or specialist team to deliver habilitation services. You will have a mentor from the service provider and support from the habilitation team at BCU. Placements are the opportunity for you to apply your knowledge and skills. They are the perfect way to demonstrate your fitness for practice.

More about our placement opportunities


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

Facilities and Staff

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £340 million on new learning facilities.

We boast up-to-date, innovative facilities that simulate the real situations that medical staff may come across.

These resources are essential in offering students a hands-on introduction to health and social care practice. Much of our teaching is carried out within our state-of-the-art, £30m Seacole Building, which houses cutting-edge learning facilities.

Take a virtual tour of our skills suites at Seacole

In a sector where new techniques are constantly being discovered, we work hard to ensure that students learn using the most up-to-date equipment available. These include the only mock operating theatre in an English university and a cutting-edge radiography virtual clinical training facility, virtual ward and virtual case creator.

Virtual Case Creator

For pre-registration midwives, Virtual Case Creator software contains a range of scenarios to let you experience birthing situations and decide on appropriate interventions in a safe environment.

Hospital Ward

Our mock wards enable you to get a feel of what a ward is really like before you head out for your first placement. They contain ‘Sim Men’, which are demonstration dummies that develop ailments, allowing you to treat them as you would a real patient and build your confidence in reacting to the changing needs of patients.

The Hospital Ward can be adapted from a low care to high dependency care environment with the necessary monitoring equipment.

Part of the package is our SIM baby, SIM man and Mega code kid. There are also nursing manikins for fundamental skills teaching and various equipment to support essential skills teaching, such as blood pressure monitoring venepuncture and cannulation equipment.

Skills Practice and Clinical Enhancement facility

The SPACE (Skills Practice And Clinical Enhancement) learning facility lets you further practice the skills taught in class, at your own pace and convenience.

It is fully stocked with the specialist items and equipment needed for procedures such as taking blood pressure, giving an injection, abdominal examination of a pregnant woman and caring for ill babies in an incubator.

Biomedical Laboratories

We have recently installed new laboratory facilities to help you explore understand the scientific principles underpinning many of our courses. The physiology laboratory is equipped to help you learn about the way the human body works by performing investigative experiments. The biomedical science laboratory is undergoing an upgrade over the summer and will allow you to learn about anatomy, cellular processes, immunology and enzymology in a hands-on way that links directly to day-to-day health care.

Simulation Mannequins

We have several Simulation men (SIM men) and Simulation babies (SIM babies) which are leading edge, anatomically correct mannequins used for teaching specific techniques such as advanced adult and paediatric life support skills, acute and high dependency clinical skills, first aid and communication skills.

The SIM men and SIM baby mannequins are complete with software, which is used to replicate real symptoms, and are enhanced by the manipulation of for example blood pressure, pulse and heart rate for extra realism. SIM Man can also “talk” to the students which adds another dimension to their use in teaching clinical skills and in simulation exercises.

Mary Seacole Library

The Seacole library, based at City South Campus, is one of the UK's largest specialist health education libraries. The state-of-the art facility offers an extensive range of range of information and reference materials set out in a relaxing environment, conducive to studying. There are comfortable seating areas, group study areas, a silent study area and private study rooms.

You will have access to all of the University’s libraries.

Computer Facilities

The Seacole building houses a large open access IT Suite which comprises of 96 PCs, full colour printers, photocopiers and scanners. Our PCs utilise the latest Intel i5 core technology, all with:

  • Fast (unrestricted) internet connectivity
  • Ability to save files to USB, DVD & CD
  • Microsoft Office software
  • Research and statistical software
  • Storage space which can be accessed from any PC across the University and from home

Our PCs are also designed to support students who may have difficulties with reading and writing, featuring specialised software with zooming/magnification and screen reading capabilities, which may also be customised for individual student needs.

The IT Suite offers extended opening hours and is supported by a specialist Open Access Assistant during term time. In addition to the open access PCs within the IT Suite, there are 12 networked student PCs available within Seacole library.

Our staff

Peter Cooke

Senior Lecturer/Admissions Tutor

Peter’s connection with the visual impairment sector began following his diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa when he was 15 years old. Early volunteering experience working with children and young people fostered an intrinsic interest in developing a career involving work with those living with serious sight loss.

More about Peter