Teaching

This programme provides a chance to integrate with students studying Social Work Research and Policy Research, and to:

  • take core units which provide introductions to social research design, qualitative and quantitative methods;
  • apply this learning in an inclusive context with disabled people;
  • examine and critically reflect on research about personalisation, social inclusion, education and citizenship.

Full-time students will take six units during the course of the year (four mandatory units, and two options), followed by their dissertation. Part-time students will normally register as ‘part-time variable’ and will be able to take units over a maximum period of five years. Find out more about the programme structure.

The programme is delivered through a combination of intensive block teaching and weekly delivery so that it is as accessible as possible to postgraduate students, busy policy professionals and practitioners. This model also suits those who live at a distance from Bristol, as well as more local people. 
 
The MSc and Postgraduate Diploma consist of four core, two optional units and, for the MSc only, a dissertation of 10-15,000 words. 
 
Each unit offers an integrated experience, including social contact, both with fellow students and with co-presenters with disabilities, including those with learning difficulties, on some of the optional units offered on the programme. 
 
As part of learning about research methods, students address key questions such as:
• How can disability research be carried out in a way that is of practical relevance and value to disabled people themselves?
• Is it possible for people with learning disabilities, and other disabled people, to be active researchers in their own right?

Aims

This programme is closely connected with the research carried out at Norah Fry Research Centre in the School for Policy Studies, and aims to equip students with the skills, knowledge and ability to plan, manage and carry out rigorous academic research relevant to Disability Studies and to disabled people themselves.

On successful completion of MSc Disability Studies, students should be able to:

  • Evaluate the robustness and validity of particular research evidence in relation to practice.
  • Select appropriate research methodologies for particular research questions.
  • Respect the voices and contributions of disabled people, and work with them on a basis of equality.
  • Critique models of inclusion, in theory and practice
  • Analyse and understand person centred practices, and their application with disabled people
  • Analyse the problems and societal barriers facing disabled people

Assessment

Each of the six taught units is assessed by a 4,000 word essay. The dissertation (15,000 words) involves independent research into an area of disability studies.

The programme offers support for essay and dissertation writing, and those who need extra or intensive support can access a range of study skills and language classes at the University. Support is offered in study skills, particularly for those who do not have an academic background, or who have had a long time away from academic study. All students will be assigned a personal tutor, and will have an allocated time for a 1-1 tutorial during the course of each unit. During the dissertation phase, workshops and individual one-one supervision are key to progress, and students receive support from experts in their own chosen topic area.

Teaching methods

A variety of teaching methods are used across the different units. Lectures are combined with seminars, and in many units, students are given the opportunity to develop presentational skills through group projects.

The unit about Inclusive Research and the Disability Studies optional units are delivered using a combination of participatory methodologies which, as far as possible, mirror the topic of the unit. Thus, most importantly, disabled people and people with learning disabilities are co-tutors and teach parts of each of these units. The sessions also include methods which include and empower participants by:

  • validating and sharing experience of students;
  • small group work to develop methodologies and apply them to students’ own situations;
  • exploring the rationale, models and themes in including people with learning disabilities from a wide variety of theoretical perspectives.

Assessment

The programme units provide a range of both formative and summative assessment methods:

  • formative (group presentations or individual assignments)
  • summative (essays on given topics)
  • dissertation.

Other methods of assessment include:

  • project proposals
  • research briefs
  • Planning of inclusive research, with individual reflective report
  • Summary of assignment work in accessible English

Study support

The programme offers support for essay and dissertation writing, and those who need extra or intensive support can access a range of study skills and language classes at the University. Support is offered in study skills, particularly for those who do not have an academic background, or who have had a long time away from academic study. All students will be assigned a personal tutor, and will have an allocated time for a 1-1 tutorial during the course of each unit. During the dissertation phase, a dissertation workshop and individual one-one supervision are key to progress, and students receive support from experts in their own chosen topic area and/or methodological interests.

Dissertation

In order to complete a full master's qualification, students will then be offered the chance to carry out a dissertation. This is an extended piece of work, which involves independent study and research, and is written up in a report of between 10,000 - 15,000 words.

The dissertation phase of your studies carries 60 credits (i.e. the equivalent of three units). It is not a taught programme, but you will be supported by workshops, and assigned an individual supervisor, who will offer you one-one support in developing your research and your final written report. The dissertation will build on the learning from all the units in the master's programme, but especially those in which students will have designed and/or evaluated inclusive practice in research. For the dissertation, students will choose an area of practice related to their own professional situations or interests, and either a) develop a research study which includes disabled people; b) develop a new research study in an area of disability research; c) carry out a literature-based dissertation about a particular area or approach to research.

While students are not expected to apply all of the methods and techniques covered in the programme, they are expected to frame an appropriate question and design a robust research approach within the constraints of a 10-15,000 word dissertation carried out usually within a period of three months for full-time students (up to 12 months for part-time variable students).

Programme handbook

Please refer to the programme handbook MPR-MSWR-MDS-Combined programme handbook 2019-20 (PDF, 1,183kB) for futher information.

Meet the staff

Programme director: Dr Demi Patsios (+ 44 117 9546774, best contacted by email: demi.patsios@bristol.ac.uk)

School admissions: sps-pgadmissions@bristol.ac.uk, +44 (0)117 954 6785

Unit convenors:

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