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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST3360 Body, Mind and Senses: The Social and Cultural History of Disability in Britain, 1833-1998

40 creditsClass Size: 16

Module manager: Jessica Meyer

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

What did it mean to be disabled in nineteenth and twentieth century Britain? This module will explore the experiences of men, women and children who lived with disabilities, physical, mental and sensory, both congenital and acquired. Examining key political, social and cultural events from the Factories Act of 1833 to the passing of the 1998 Human Rights Act, we will explore how disability shaped the provision of medical care, the development of welfare policies and the introduction and adaptation of technologies. We will use a range of primary sources, including political debates, medical records and personal narratives to discover how the disabled were viewed by society and how they sought to define themselves. Seminars will cover a wide range of aspects, including industrial accidents, warfare, domesticity and disability activism. The module offers students the chance to learn more about the perspectives and agency of men, women and children too often marginalised by perceived impairments of body, mind and senses.


This module introduces students to the history and historiography of disability in modern Britain, to theoretical approaches to studying the history of disability and to methodologies in disability history and the social history of medicine. The objective is to enable students to understand developments in social policy, medical provision and subjective experience of disability across the 19th and 20th centuries, understand key approaches and historiographic debates and engage effectively with complex and sensitive histories.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students will have
1. an understanding of political, social and cultural developments relating to disability in the period 1833 to 1998;
2. an understanding of and ability to interrogate historiographies of disability, welfare and medicine;
3. an understanding of ethical issues relating to histories of medicine and disability;
4. skills in communicating complex ideas in written and verbal form;
5. skills in handling a wide range of types of evidence and evaluating different theoretical and methodological approaches to history;
6. confidence in using concepts such as gender, class, age and race to understand the diversity of lived experience of disability in modern Britain.
7 the ability to apply fundamental standards and practices of historical study for research, discussion, and assessed work, both oral and written.


Seminar topics may include:
- legislation from the Factories Act (1833) to the Human Rights Act (1998)
- changes in industry and the nature of work
- disability and domesticity
- medical and technological developments
- the impact of wars and conflict
- the role of institutions
- physical, psychological, cognitive and sensory impairments
- welfare policy and the creation of the welfare state
- the patient voice and disability activism
- the ethics of disability history
The course will be delivered in seminars that include discussion of secondary literature and engagement with a range of primary sources and archival materials.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours356.00
Total Contact hours44.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)400.00

Private study

- Reading to prepare for seminar (120 hours)
- Further self-directed reading (65 hours)
- Preparing and producing the podcast assessment using online tools and primary source materials (15 hours)
- Researching and writing the essay (75 hours)
- Exam preparation (75 hours)
- Reflection on feedback (6 hours)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Weekly seminar classes will allow close monitoring of student progress. In-class exercises to help prepare students for the assessments, including technical training for the podcast will provide opportunities for formative feedback on work. Feedback on all assessments will include comments on ways to improve. Students will be encouraged to attend office hours where necessary.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay4000 words due in January exam week 240.00
Presentation15-minute podcast presentation due in week 9 of semester 210.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

The presentation can be replaced by a 1000-word essay for resit purposes.

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment48 hr 00 mins50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

The exam will have to be a 48-hour OTA until such time as closed book exams can take place again on campus. All our 40 credit special subjects need to have the same form of examination. So they all need to have the same paperwork.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 25/07/2022 16:34:45


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