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Unit information: Inclusive Research with Disabled People in 2020/21

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Unit name Inclusive Research with Disabled People
Unit code ACHSM0001
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Joe Webb
Open unit status Not open




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


This unit springs from the burgeoning movement for emancipatory and participatory research carried out by and with disabled people. In order for social research to have an impact, it is necessary for it to be grounded in the lived experience of disabled 'end users' of social care services. Developments in this field have been led by disabled people themselves, who have criticised conventional social care research for a tendency to reinforce a care system which they see as oppressive (Oliver, 1990). The unit will explore these developments, and specifically focus on research which includes people with learning disabilities, where there are issues of the ownership of the research, the development of the skills necessary to carry out research, power relationships and support.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  • Describe and synthesize developments in the field of emancipatory, participatory and inclusive research by and with disabled people since 1990.
  • Understand how to design research, using participatory and action research models.
  • Identify and critically reflect on the main benefits and tensions in practising inclusive research with those who might find it hard to engage in research methodologies

Construct a practicable, robust and valid research project which includes disabled people or other community participants as key players.

The summative assessment tests all of the ILOs and accounts for 100% of the unit mark.

Teaching details

The unit will be delivered through blended learning and will involve contributions from disabled people. It will comprise of a combination of lectures, group discussion and self-directed exercises

Assessment Details

Formative assessment:

Group feedback showing evidence of learning from inclusive research methods workshop.

Summative assessment:

4,000 word essay (100%: there will be an option to carry out the assignment in one of two ways):

a) reporting on discussions with disabled people, in relation to designing, initiating or using some research. The assignment will both report on that discussion and reflect on it in relation to the issues raised in the literature.

b) identifying the key issues and tensions in inclusive research methodologies in the literature and showing how they can be addressed in practice.

Reading and References

  • Barnes, C. and Mercer, G. (1997) Doing Disability Research. Leeds: The Disability Press.
  • Bigby, C., Frawley, P. & Ramcharan, P. (2014) Conceptualizing Inclusive Research with People with Intellectual Disability. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 27: 3-12.
  • Goodley, D. (2017) Disability Studies: An Interdisciplinary Introduction. 2nd edn. London: Sage.
  • Goodwin, J., Mason, V., Williams, V. & Townsley, R. (2015) Easy Information about Research: getting the message out to people with learning disabilities. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43 (3): 93-99.
  • Nind, M. (2014) What is Inclusive Research? London: Bloomsbury Academic.
  • Smyth, M. and Williamson, E. (eds.) (2004) Researchers and their subjects: ethics, power, knowledge and consent. Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Walmsley, J. and Johnson, K. (2003) Inclusive Research with People with Learning Disabilities: Past, Present and Futures. London: Jessica Kingsley.
  • Williams, V. (2011) Disability and Discourse: analysing inclusive conversation with people with intellectual disabilities. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.