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

Currently viewing course to start in 2024/25 Entry.

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....

  • Level Postgraduate Taught
  • Study mode Full Time/Part Time
  • Location City South
  • School School of Health Sciences
  • Faculty Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences

This course is:


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

Essential 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.

If you have a qualification that is not listed, please contact us.

Fees & How to Apply

Please select your student status to view fees and apply
  • UK Student
  • International Student

UK students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: BSc (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 1 year
  • £4,920 in 2024/25
  • £820 per 20 credits
  • Year 1 - 80 credits
  • Year 2 - 40 credits

Fees for Part-time students

This course can be studied on a Part-time study basis. The cost per year of study is based on credit requirements for that year.

International students

Sorry, this course is not available to International students.

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.

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.

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

You’ll need to submit a personal statement as part of your application for this course. This will need to highlight your passion for postgraduate study – and your chosen course – as well as your personal skills and experience, academic success, and any other factors that will support your application for further study.

Not sure what to include? We’re here to help – take a look at our top tips for writing personal statements and download our free postgraduate personal statement guide for further advice and examples from real students.

Course in Depth


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

Download course specification

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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

Facilities & Staff

We have invested over £400 million in our facilities, including an upgrade to our Skills and Simulation facilities at City South Campus. We boast up-to-date, innovative facilities that simulate the real situations that you may come across in the workplace. These resources are essential in offering you a hands-on introduction to health and social care practice.

Mock Wards

These are set up to look like typical hospital wards, with four-six bays. Depending on the topic in hand, different manikins can be used as patients and relevant equipment is provided to practise clinical skills. Some of the manikins are interactive and can simulate different scenarios e.g. some allow you to cannulate, check pulses, intubate etc, and some can talk to you. One ward is often used as an adult ward, and the other as a child ward.

These rooms also allow for scenarios to be set up for other professions such as dietetics, paramedic science and social work.

The Operating Theatre and Recovery Suites

The operating theatre and recovery suite gives you the sense of what it would be like in a real surgical environment.

These spaces emulate the full surgical journey from anaesthetics, through surgery and into recovery. ODP students can practice a range of skills including gowning, hand washing, preparing instrument trays, and working with a patient. Nurses and midwives may experience a surgical placement and need to go to theatre or be part of the midwifery team involved with caesarean sections. Many other Allied Health Professionals may also see patients in recovery if necessary.

Home Environment Room

This space is used to simulate non-clinical settings, as not everything health professionals deal with is hospital based. This is used for simulations of home visits and home births. It also houses soft matting and a bubble machine that are used by the Learning Disability Nursing team.

Assisted Living Space

This space replicates a flat and is used for scenarios such as home visits. The sitting room area provides a different space to practise skills and simulations and work with service users and other students.

Assisted Kitchen

This specially designed kitchen has different areas where you can practice cooking, cleaning, boiling the kettle etc., with someone who has actual or simulated visual impairments. There are adapted devices to help, and simulation glasses for you to wear to experience visual impairments.

Physiotherapy Room

This is a space for physiotherapy students to use, with various equipment to practise client meetings.

Radiotherapy Planning Computer Suite

Our computers allow you to plan hypothetical treatments, in terms of angles and directions, ensuring that radiotherapy reaches where it is needed on a patient’s body.

Radiography Image Interpretation and Reporting Stations Computer Suite

These facilities allow you to view and analyse x-rays.

VERT - Virtual Environment for Radiotherapy Training

This room contains 3D technology to view virtual patients and look at trajectories for treatment.


This room contains the same bed/couch used when patients are given radiotherapy treatment. While students of course do not administer radiotherapy in this room, it does allow them to practise adjusting the equipment to make sure both it and a patient would be in the correct position to receive treatment.

Telehealth Room

This room allows for small group teaching in a central area (large boardroom type table) with five small telehealth booths down either side. These are to allow all our health professions students to practise delivering healthcare and advice remotely, either over the phone or on a video call. This addition to our teaching reflects moves in the sector to offer more flexible access to healthcare services, particularly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Imaging Academy

This new facility is a larger version of our existing image interpretation computer facilities and forms part of the Midlands Imaging Academy Hub, funded by Health Education England. These expanded facilities will mean we can further develop our courses and expertise in radiography and imaging.

Speech and Language Therapy Resource Room

Our Speech and Language Therapy Team have developed a collection of tools, books and resources to help you learn and understand the implications of a speech or swallowing limitation. You can practise one to one client meetings and clinics and use the video recording equipment to review role play scenarios.

Ultrasound simulation suite

You have access to a wide range of Ultrasound simulation equipment to develop your clinical skills and aid in training. The equipment includes two ultrasound machines with a range of phantoms, scan training stations and eve body works.

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

David Bignell

Programme Lead Rehabilitation Work

David is a qualified Rehabilitation Worker and the Programme Lead for the Foundation Degree in Rehabilitation Work (Visual Impairment), the BSc (Hons) Specialist Complex Needs Rehabilitation Work top up’ degree and the BSc (Hons) Habilitation Work Working with Children and Young People course. David studied at the Guide Dogs School of Vision and...

More about David