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2021/22 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SLSP5414M Debates on Disability Theory and Research

30 creditsClass Size: 20

Module manager: Dr Miro Griffiths

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

This module is not approved as an Elective


This module seeks to provide students with a comprehensive insight into the different theoretical approaches to disability, and so provide them with the necessary tools with which to critically evaluate societal responses to people with impairments, whether those be physical, sensory, cognitive or other. The course also provides students with an introduction to key methodological debates within Disability Studies and into the development of interdisciplinary perspectives in this field.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this Module students will be able to show evidence of ability to:

• Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge and understanding of key concepts, definitions and concerns relevant to the development of current theoretical perspectives on impairment and disability within the social sciences generally and disability studies in particular.

• Articulate a comprehensive knowledge of recent and current theoretical debates within the context of disability studies and understanding of the significance of different perspective with reference to the everyday experiences of disabled people and development of disability politics and policy in the UK and internationally.

• Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of recent theoretical developments within the general area of disability research and their significance with reference to the conceptualisation and practicalities of researching disability and disability related issues.

Skills outcomes
On completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate the following transferable skills:
a) research and reading skills (students are required to research, read and summarise material from a variety of sources: books, articles, internet, newspapers and other media).
b) IT skills (students are required to access and download material from the internet)
c) writing skills (students are required to produce informal and formal assignments)
d) referencing skills (students are required to use academic references in their written work)
d) debating skills (students are required to discuss and debate controversial issues in weekly seminars)
e) presentational skills (students are required to present a relevant topic for discussion at weekly seminars)
f) formal and informal networking skills (students are encouraged to network and liaise with each other during a specified period built into the module timetable).


This module will consider various 'models’ of disability – 'individual', 'social', 'rights-based', 'relational' and 'bio-psychosocial' and consider how these models articulate or define 'disability' and how these models 'operate' (i.e. what they allow disabled people and their allies to 'do'). The module will also explore a range of theoretical perspectives in the field of Disability Studies, including Marxist/Neo-Marxist, Feminist and Post-Colonial, Foucauldian, Crip Theory (Butleresque) and Studies in Ableism approaches. The goal is to equip students with knowledge of key theoretical frameworks that have been and continue to be used to inform the design of disability research and to aid analysis within this field. Students will also be introduced to Literary and Legal approaches to disability, allowing then insights into the interdisciplinary character of disability research today.

A concern with understanding the emergence and development of 'disability politics' in the UK (predominantly), but also in the USA and internationally, will flow throughout the module. The issue of 'intersectionality' will be highlighted, with students encouraged to consider how disability intersects with other forms of oppression relating to 'race', gender, sexuality.

The final element of the module will focus on the key debates surrounding the development of Disability Studies methodologies, in particular 'emancipatory' research. The implications of these debates for disability research today will be explored.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours267.00
Total Contact hours33.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Independent research, reading, essay plan (formative) and essay production.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Seminar participation, informal discussions, formative essay plan.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 4,000 word essay100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

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: 04/10/2021


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