Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

OSSP5101M Understanding Disability

15 creditsClass Size: 50

Module manager: Dr Hannah Morgan

Taught: 1 May to 30 June, 1 Nov to 31 Dec View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications

Students are required to meet the programme entry requirements prior to studying the module.

Module replaces


This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

The big ideas of the disabled people’s movement have transformed lives and have set the intellectual culture of disability studies. In this module we will explore a critical history of these big ideas demonstrating how these have led to practical solutions to many of the injustices experienced by disabled people and making visible the horizon of the inclusive society. Students will become more confident in deploying complex ideas in their practice as this module is the theoretical foundation of the programme.


This module provides students with foundational knowledge and understanding about how disability has been conceptualised and theorised. The module will introduce students to the big ideas that emerged from the disabled people’s movement and to theoretical approaches to disability developed by/employed within contemporary Disability Studies. These ideas and theories provide an array of tools and perspectives with which to critically evaluate societal responses to people with impairments, whether those be physical, sensory, cognitive or other. Students will be supported to think critically about the different ideas and theories, their strengths and weaknesses. A global approach is taken, sensitive to the challenges raised by a number of minoritized groups.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the big ideas of the disabled people movement and disability studies;
2. Evidence critical skills by careful assessment of competing and contrasting models and theorising of disability;
3. Deploy complex theoretical ideas to analyse the disabling society;
4. To evaluate the limitations of dominant thinking within disability studies, drawing upon critiques including feminist, postcolonial, and from the Global South and Global East;
5. Convey complex theoretical knowledge effectively in accessible and engaging ways.


The big ideas of the disabled people’s movement and disability studies and differing perspectives of them will be compared and their strengths and weaknesses interrogated. We will examine the intellectual history of the disabled people’s movement and theoretical responses in disability studies globally and think critically about the dominance of Western and Minority-World perspectives. Central issues to understanding disability such as the theorising of impairment, disablism and ableism, and questions of personhood, invalidation and normalisation, political economy, and the spatial and temporal dimensions of disablement will be critically explored.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
On-line Learning61.006.00
Discussion forum62.0012.00
Independent online learning hours42.00
Private study hours90.00
Total Contact hours18.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Independent online learning refers to non-facilitated directed learning. Students will work through bespoke interactive learning resources and reflective activities in the VLE.

Private study refers to directed reading and other activities including self-directed research in support of learning activities and discussions, as well as in preparation for and production of assessments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

The module’s digital learning materials provide regular opportunities for students to check their understanding and gain feedback e.g. case studies with short answer questions and automated feedback.

The webinars and discussion forums provide opportunities for formative feedback from peers and tutors.

Scaffolding assessment focused exercises are incorporated into select units, with these exercises designed to specifically help students work on, reflect and progress with the module assessment.

The development of a critical appraisal will enable student progress to be monitored and summative feedback provided.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportUDL options for submission see below*100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Students produce a critical appraisal of a big idea of the disabled people’s movement. *Students can select to submit this assessment as either: a/ Written report (3,000 word limit) b/ Presentation (20 minute recorded presentation or script 3,000 words, with or without PowerPoint or alternative). NB this has been designed to reduce the requirement for individual reasonable adjustments.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 01/05/2024


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019