Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SLSP2040 Disability Studies: An Introduction

20 creditsClass Size: 80

Module manager: Professor Roger Slee

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications

At least 20 credits at Level 1 from a social science related discipline or the appropriate discovery theme

This module is approved as a discovery module

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 learning units 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.


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).

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:
1. Critically evaluate the different models and theories of disability that inform responses to disabled people
2. Apply these models and theories in order to explain the situation of disabled people, and the way they are represented in contemporary culture
3. Demonstrate an in depth understanding of disabled people’s experiences in relation to issues such as sexuality and parenting, education and employment
4. Assess the importance of disabled people’s activism in enabling positive change.

Skills outcomes
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

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
On-line Learning111.0011.00
Private study hours173.00
Total Contact hours27.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- Preparation for online learning units: 22 hours
- Preparation for seminars: 30 hours
- Preparation for tutor consultation: 2 hours
- Preparation for essay: 119 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

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

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 2,500 words100.00
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: 27/07/2023


Browse Other Catalogues

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

© Copyright Leeds 2019