module specification

SS6050 - Current Issues in Disability (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Current Issues in Disability
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Professions
Total study hours 150
40 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
110 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Essay
Coursework 50%   A case study
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Thursday Afternoon

Module summary

The module aims to focus on the competing and contested nature of the concept of “disability” and the implications it has on community development. It examines disability as a new social movement together with the ‘modernist’ and post-modern discourses around disability that informs much of the social policy provisions and community practice today. The module considers the radical transformation of the ways in which disability is understood - informed by the Disability Rights Movements of the 70s and 80s in the UK, and enables students to engage in a culture of debates and reflective practice that are critical and therefore increasingly required for effective community work. 

Module aims

The module aims to:
Provide students with a foundation for understanding and analysing disability related issues in the context of current welfare policies and practices.
Enable students to grasp the principles of the social model of disability and its implications for social policy and community development.
Provide students with an understanding of the dynamics of the experiences of having a disability and its interaction with other aspects of identity particularly gender and ethnicity.


Understanding disability (and impairment), social interpretation of disability; disablism.(Medical, psychological and socio/political)
Disability Rights Movements to Independent Living Movement
Social Model of Disability
Identity, difference and disability – implications for community development
Intersectionality: how disability interacts with other facets of social lives (focus on ethnicity and gender).
Dependency and independence: ‘parasite’ or comrade professionals?
Disability and community development – how understanding of disability articulates with varying social cultural norms
Researching disability: Using appropriate theoretical concepts and emancipatory methods.

Learning and teaching

The module will be taught by a weekly lecture of one hour duration with two hour seminar. Active learning hours:
Lectures 14
Seminars/Workshops 26 (Seminars are compulsory)
Private supported study 110
Total hours 150
The module will adopt a range of teaching and learning strategies including lectures, guest speakers, group work, reflections, presentations, visits and independent supported learning. A student-centred approach will be adopted involving an independent supported learning environment.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
Articulate a historical perspective of the development of disability movement within wider rights movement/discourses.
Discuss the key issues and current debates on disability and welfare policy focusing on inclusion and exclusion discourses.
Analyse the complex experiences of disabled people and the impact it has on their lives & society, particularly how disability interacts with gender and ethnicity.

Assessment strategy

The module will be assessed by producing two pieces of written work, one essay (1500 words) and one case study (1500 words) both weighting 50% of total marks. The first assignment will be an essay drawn from a given list of topics which will test students understanding of the concepts, issues and debates relating to disability. The second piece of work is a case study focusing on the experiences of a particular disability. This will give students an opportunity to reflect on their academic learning. Credit will be given for being able to blend an understanding of real life experiences with academic and theoretical considerations. The word limit excludes bibliography and references.


Barnes, C & Mercer, G. (eds) (1996) Exploring the divide: illness and disability; Leeds
Ahmad, W. I. U. (eds) 2000: Ethnicity, Disability and Chronic Illness, Buckingham: Buckingham.
Barnes, C and Mercer, G. (eds) 2004: Implementing the Social Model of Disability: Theory and Research, Leeds: The Disability Press.
Berthoud, R. et al. (1993) The economic problems of disabled people, London: Policy Studies Institute
Beckett, A.E. (2006) Understanding Social Movements: theorising the disability movement in conditions of late modernity, The Sociological Review, 54:4 (2006)
Burchardt T (2000) Enduring economic exclusion: Disabled people, income and work, JRF Report, York: York publishing services
Dwyer, Peter (2004) Understanding Social Citizenship, Bristol, Policy Press
Hales,G. (1996) Beyond Disability. Towards an Enabling Society. London: Sage
Online resources:
Disability Archive UK:
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Journals:Disability and Society