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Unit information: Disability in Society in 2020/21

Unit name Disability in Society
Unit code SPOL30075
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Mrs. Beth Tarleton
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


Disability in Society will examine the issues faced by disabled children, young people and adults in contemporary society. The unit is driven by a critique of society and its institutions. It locates disability in the social rather than individual context. The unit will consider the theoretical underpinnings of disability studies, including the social model, and will discuss the differing views and debates about these issues.

The unit is planned and co-produced with people who have direct experience of disability. The first part of the unit will take a life course approach from childhood to old age. The second part will consider for example - disability and forced migration, the experiences of parents with learning disabilities, disabled children in education and transition to adulthood, disability and sexuality as well as inclusive research with disabled people. It addresses questions that arise in relation to inclusion, societal attitudes and relationships, barriers to participation, and the practical steps that can be taken to address barriers in ‘systemic’ ways.

The unit aims are:

  • To examine models of disability and engage with debates regarding the value in enabling understanding of the lived experience of disability
  • To explore social constructed ideas of disability and consider the social and cultural roots of disablement in contemporary society
  • To critically examine social structures (education, social care, health care) as both inclusive spaces and sites of oppression
  • To appraise research within disability studies
  • To examine policy and experience from the point of view of disabled people themselves

Intended learning outcomes

  1. To be able to identify and critique the models and theories that have driven disability studies and how these develop understanding of the lived experience of disability
  2. To appraise and critique social policy relating to disability in terms of its relevance and impact to the lives of disabled people
  3. To evaluate research carried out within Disability Studies, in relation to key goals such as impact, inclusion, voice and social justice.

Teaching details

Blended learning for this unit will include a mix of lectures, interactive sessions and small group discussion and activities deliverer synchronously and asynchronously. It will include contributions from disabled people.

Assessment Details

Part 1 1000-word blog (25%)

Part 2 2000-word essay (75%)

Reading and References

Runswick-Cole, K. Curran, T. & Liddiard, K., (Eds) (2018) The Palgrave Handbook of Disabled Children’s Childhood Studies. London, Palgrave Macmillan.

Davis, L. (ed) (2010) The Disability Studies Reader (3rd ed). Routledge.

Goodley, D. (2016) Disability Studies: An Interdisciplinary Introduction. (2nd Ed) London: Sage

Oliver, M. and Barnes, C. (2012) The new politics of disablement. (2nd ed), Palgrave Macmillan Swain, J.,

Shakespeare, T., (2018) Disability: The basics. London, Routledge