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2008/09 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SLSP2040 Disability Studies: An Introduction

20 creditsClass Size: 120

Module manager: Professor Mark Priestley

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2008/09

Pre-requisite qualifications

Normally 40 credits at Level 1 from schemes of study within the Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law or related disciplines.

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

The way we think about disability, and the way we treat disabled people in society, has changed dramatically. Disability was once viewed simply as a 'medical' or 'therapeutic' issue but is now an issue of equality and human rights. The first part of the module explores new ways of thinking about disability and focuses on understanding 'social models' of disability rather than medical models. The contributions of disabled people themselves are important and you will have the opportunity to read material that is highly practical and political in addition to the academic literature. The main part of the course focuses on the ways in which disabled people are discriminated against in contemporary societies and what can be done about this - from debates on abortion and euthanasia, film and television, education and employment rights, to sexual relationships and parenting children. Understanding this critical approach to disability studies has major implications for policy making, equal rights, human resource management, and the development of an inclusive global society.

The module is taught through a combination of weekly lectures and multi-media presentations; plus nine seminars where you can discuss the issues and key readings in a smaller group. The Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Leeds is regarded as the world leader for research and teaching in this field and the course is backed up by extensive and up-to-date learning materials, the vast majority of which are presented for you online. The module is taught by Dr Mark Priestley.

For a preview take a look at the materials on the module website.Contact: Dr Mark Priestley ( or


On completion of this module, students should be able to:
(i) Describe and critically evaluate contemporary theoretical and empirical debates about the nature of impairment and disability;
(ii) Evaluate the wider implications of these debates in understanding the experience of disabled people in contemporary societies;
(iii) Demonstrate an awareness of the relationship between disability theory and the personal and political actions of disabled people.

Through lectures, seminars, online learning, varied forms of assessment, and monitoring of progress, students will:
- Develop a range of cognitive skills (the ability to critically judge, interpret and evaluate evidence, and appreciate the complexity and diversity of society and social situations);
- Develop discipline specific skills (the ability to formulate and investigate sociologically informed questions, the capacity to analyse, assess and communicate empirical information, an ability to show cultural awareness, social empathy for social groups and demonstrate an awareness of the personal and political factors implicated in the relationships between professionals, institutions, social policies, individuals and groups);
- Develop transferable and personal skills (learning and study skills, written and oral communication skills, information retrieval skills, application of social theory to 'real world' social contexts, awareness of disability as a social and political category).

Skills outcomes
Personal research skills (bibliographic and Internet); essay writing; presentation skills.Personal research skills (bibliographic and Internet); essay writing; presentation skills.


The module examines theoretical and empirical debates within the field of disability studies and their implications for understanding impairment and disability in contemporary societies. Students will engage with academic and non-academic writings (often by disabled people themselves) that illustrate the social and personal impacts of disability in contemporary society. This will involve an examination of such phenomena as:
(i) the origins of competing discourses of disability (focusing on the distinction between individual and social model approaches);
(ii) structural and cultural explanations of disability;
(iii) the claims and struggles of the disabled people's movement;
(iv) the significance and impact of disability discrimination in public and personal spheres of life;
(v) the importance of embracing understandings and practices that challenge oppression in the lives of disabled people.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Preparation for lectures: 22 hours;
Preparation for seminars: 36 hours;
Preparation for tutor consultation: 2 hours;
Preparation for essay: 60 hours;
Exam revision: 60 hours.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Seminar presentation/group work;
Participation in online discussion;
Seminar attendance/participation;
Tutor consultation.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,500 words50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 00 mins50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 26/10/2007


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