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Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) (Online Learning) PgCert (ICL)

Awards: PgCert (ICL)

Study modes: Part-time Intermittent Study

Online learning

FASD refers to the physical, emotional and developmental effects of alcohol exposure during pregnancy. Neurodevelopmental disorders are known to be caused by prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE). Health services worldwide are struggling to measure and address the issue. In March 2022 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published UK-wide guidance for assessing and diagnosing FASD, building on guidance published in 2019 by the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidance Network (SIGN 156). FASD is a public health issue, affecting roughly 3.25-5% of the general population FASD is also thought to be over-represented in justice and corrections, out-of-home care, and homelessness, mental health, and addictions services (Popova et al., 2019).

Few health professionals are familiar with the disorder and even fewer are confident in providing an assessment. In many countries, FASD remains underdiagnosed therefore, a greater diagnostic capacity is needed to meet demand (Clarren et al., 2011).

This programme will provide you with the skills and understanding to:

  • recognise potential cases of FASD

  • conduct a diagnostic assessment with a wider multi-disciplinary team

  • develop clinical formulations of presenting difficulties

  • provide care and treatment recommendations

    You will be guided in this practice by an understanding of the context in which pre-natal alcohol exposure occurs so that you can conduct your work in a trauma-informed, non-judgemental manner, and work sensitively with families.

The programme addresses recent calls for training in FASD for Health, Education and Social Care professionals. As the first FASD-focused university course in the UK, and one of few worldwide, this programme is designed to meet the needs of practising health and social care professionals by being accessible online and part-time.

The programme is delivered in an online environment that provides a dynamic and collaborative learning experience.

Our flexible online learning environment allows you to access materials and learn when and where is most convenient for you. This allows you to work around your professional commitments while developing your expertise in FASD.

FASD experts from the Fetal Alcohol Advisory Support, and Training (FAAST) Team at the University of Edinburgh, NHS Scotland, and clinical academics from universities in the UK and abroad, help deliver our programme. This programme also includes opportunities to learn from individuals with lived experience of FASD.

The programme uses different methods to create a dynamic and collaborative learning environment, including:

  • pre-recorded and live lectures

  • live small-group seminars

  • asynchronous group discussions

The content will mostly be accessed flexibly; however, some interactive live content will require engagement at specific times.

Assessment is through:

  • An exam made up of multiple choice and short answer questions (Course 1)

  • Coursework on example clinical cases (Courses 2 & 3)

You can also assess your progress with weekly multiple-choice questions that do not contribute to your final grade.

This programme will offer you a flexible postgraduate degree designed for professionals. It consists of three, twenty-credit courses offered part-time with the option of intermittent study. This means that you have up to three years to take the required courses, with a requirement for at least 20 credits of courses to be taken each year. Your teachers will be experts in FASD with experience in the diagnosis, assessment and support of individuals with the condition.

There is a strong emphasis on including individuals with lived experience and in each course, you will hear directly from families raising children with FASD and individuals with FASD themselves.

To achieve the aims of the programme, you will complete three courses as follows:

  • CLPS11094 SCQF 11 –– Understanding Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD): Context, Contributors & Clinical Presentation

This course focuses on providing the ability to describe, explain, and evaluate the condition. This includes its epidemiology, causes and presentation in children and adults, demonstrating an understanding of the complexities of FASD.

  • CLPS11096 SCQF 11 - The assessment and diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

The learning aims of this course include the achievement of in-depth knowledge and skills emphasising the evaluation of assessment results to inform intervention recommendations. Further learning outcomes cover the need to communicate sensitively on this topic taking a person-centred, trauma-informed approach.

  • Proposed Course SCQF 11- Advanced case formulation in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

In this course, you will expand your knowledge of assessment and diagnosis through consideration of complex cases. These will address issues such as difficulties in determining pre-natal alcohol exposure, borderline cases, differential diagnosis and how best to work with families. This course will also enhance your skills in making intervention recommendations.

(Revised 26 October 2023 to update information about course credit requirements)

On completion of the programme, you will have:

  • a comprehensive understanding of the presentation, causes, epidemiology, and diagnosis of FASD
  • an understanding of the importance of trauma-informed, person-centred language when communicating with families, clients, and colleagues on FASD-related topics
  • the ability to coordinate and conduct assessments relevant to your professional background

After finishing this programme, you will be able to:

  • apply your skills in assessment and diagnosis to FASD
  • diagnose FASD and write case descriptions following local guidelines
  • if applicable to your role, measure the key facial features related to FASD using physical measurements, or digital photograph analysis software.
  • sensitively investigate a developmental history, including asking questions about alcohol use during pregnancy
  • understand the assessments made by all members of a multi-disciplinary team
  • develop your practice in communicating an FASD diagnosis to stakeholders (e.g., individuals with FASD, families, and professionals).

A multidisciplinary approach

It is important to understand that completion of this programme will not qualify you to unilaterally undertake diagnostic assessments in the absence of a multidisciplinary team. Because of the complexity of the outcomes related to PAE, international guidelines specify a multidisciplinary team is essential for an accurate and comprehensive assessment and subsequent management recommendations.

Graduates of the programme will be able to take important roles, in both child and adult services, leading the co-ordination and interpretation of multi-disciplinary assessments of FASD.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, or a subsequent Masters or Doctoral qualification, in psychology, health or a related discipline.

If you do not meet the academic entry requirements, we may consider your application on the basis of your relevant professional qualifications.

The programme is designed for those directly involved in the assessment and diagnosis of FASD specifically; Medical professionals, Clinical or Educational Psychologists, Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists, Clinical Associates in Applied Psychology and Social Workers. Other professionals will also find the content relevant to their work including; Midwives, Health visitors and teachers working with special educational needs. The course is also relevant for those working in public health, including management, and policy makers.

You should be in possession of a current registration with an appropriate accrediting professional body or national organisation.

You should also have a rudimentary knowledge of standardised assessments which involve scoring and analysis, e.g., use of percentiles, scaled or standard scores.

Please contact us if require further information before submitting your application.

(Revised 14 February 2024 to provide additional clarity.)

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 176 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 62 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PgCert (ICL)Fetal Alcohol Spectrum DisorderUp to 3 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Project Coordinator, Fetal Alcohol Advisory, Support, and Training (FAAST) Team, Carol Hamilton
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 3969
  • Contact: FAAST@ed.ac.uk
  • Doorway 6, Medical Quad
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG
Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2024 31 July 2024

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. Applications will be reviewed, and places offered, on an ongoing basis prior to the stated deadline. Late applications may be considered and we encourage you to contact us.

You must submit one reference with your application.

Two references are required for this programme.

If possible, we recommend that one reference is from your line manager and one is an academic reference. If you have been out of education for a number of years and it is not possible to submit an academic reference, we will also accept a second professional reference. Your suitability will be established through your application and reference. Your reference should provide evidence of your applied experience.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Project Coordinator, Fetal Alcohol Advisory, Support, and Training (FAAST) Team, Carol Hamilton
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 3969
  • Contact: FAAST@ed.ac.uk
  • Doorway 6, Medical Quad
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG