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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Health in Social Science : Counselling Studies

Postgraduate Course: Reflexivity: Rethinking subjectivity in practice and research (CNST11094)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Health in Social Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course will take students through different conceptualisations of, and ways of using, reflexivity in practice and research; it will cover the role and impact of different reflexivities; it will explore how subjectivity and reflexivity are challenged and re-formulated by feminist, poststructural and posthumanist theories; and finally, it will study recently developed conceptualisations of reflexive practice applicable to professional practice and research.
Course description Reflexivity is a core element of the professional and academic development of students in the social sciences (see Etherington, 2017; Finlay, 2003, 2017; Schön, 2008). The importance of questioning our assumptions and how our subjectivity is part of our work has become paramount as a criterion for good professional practice and qualitative research scholarship.

The conceptualisation of reflexivity is far from being univocal, reflexivities (Finlay, 2017) being a more appropriate term. Feminist theories have thought about reflexivity as a political practice where the standpoint of people in underprivileged positions is crucial (Harding, 1991). Poststructural and posthumanist theories (see Barad, 2007; Butler, 2005) have challenged the conceptualisation and practice of reflexivity. Put simply, these theories argue that there is not an already formed self to be reflexive about, and emphasise how knowledge, including reflexive knowledge, helps to produce a self rather than represent a self. These theories have questioned the autonomy and sovereignty of subjectivity and stressed the limits of our reflexive capacity. These challenges have inspired authors to both move away from reflexive practice (e.g. towards ´diffraction´- see, Barad, 2007; Davies, 2014) and to develop new conceptualisations of reflexivity whilst valuing what earlier forms of reflexivity produce/enable. (see, Pillow, 2003, 2015; Serra Undurraga, 2020,2021)

This course will provide an in-depth review of the conceptualisation and practice of reflexivities across different theoretical frameworks. After reviewing the main ways in which reflexivity is understood, the course will explore how feminist, poststructural and posthumanist conceptualisations of subjectivity radically challenge and transform how we think about the reflexive practice of making sense of ourselves. The course will have a pluralistic perspective (Serra Undurraga, 2020), critically considering how different types of reflexivity are the most useful in particular contexts because of what they produce/enable.

In this course, the students will learn different ways in which subjectivity and reflexivity can be conceptualised and practised. Students will be encouraged to apply what they learn in each class to their professional practice and/or research. After completing this course, students will be equipped to critically analyse what different conceptualisations and practices of reflexivity (reflexivities) enable. The students will be able to conceptualise and make use of reflexivity in novel ways that will be applicable to professional practice and research.

Content outline:

- What do we mean by reflexivity and reflexive practice? Reflection and reflexivity in the social sciences.
- Feminism and reflexivity: Standpoint theories and strong reflexivity.
- Reflexivity: an isolated practice? Relational conceptualisations of the self in reflexivity.
- Reflexivity and culture: Poststructural theories of subjectivity and reflexivity
- Critiques of reflexivity: Posthumanist theories of subjectivity and reflexivity
- Contemporary conceptualisations of reflexivity: Uncomfortable reflexivity, reflexivity as genealogy, diffractive reflexivity, performative meta-reflexivity.
- Integration and conclusions.

Student learning experience:

This 10-week course will have 2 main components, one conceptual and the other practical. The first one will be mainly addressed in lecture time and the second in seminar time. The students will be expected to read between 2-3 texts per session. The lecture time aims to provide an accessible understanding of the main concepts of the session and it will encourage live discussion. The practical aspect will include experiential/practical activities to facilitate the integration of the conceptual knowledge into reflexive practice. In these activities, students will be encouraged to make connections between the concepts learned and their current professional practice and/or research.

The learning outcomes will be informally addressed and developed in the participation in classes. In particular, the students will receive formative feedback from the tutor and peers in the practical activities.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  40
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Summative assessment 1, 50%, 2,000 words.«br /»
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Summative assessment 2, 50%, 2000 words.
Feedback Formative assessment:
The students will receive non-assessed feedback from the tutor and peers during the seminar time when engaging in practical activities to integrate the conceptual knowledge.
In these activities students will analyse reflexive writing pieces (external and their own) to 1. Critically identify and analyse the kind of reflexivity used, 2. Critically consider the current and potential uses and impact of that reflexivity and 3. Critically and creatively explore what would happen if another type of reflexivity had been used instead.
The formative feedback activities will directly feed into summative assignment 1 and indirectly into summative assignment 2.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. To demonstrate a critical understanding of the role of reflexivity in research and practice.
  2. To evidence a critical knowledge of a range of ways in which reflexivity has been conceptualised and practised.
  3. To critically apply a variety of ways of using reflexivity in professional practice and/or research.
  4. To critically understand how feminist, poststructural and posthumanist conceptualisations of subjectivity influence the conceptualisation and practice of reflexivity.
  5. To critically analyse the impact of using different kinds of reflexivity.
Reading List
Finlay, L. (2017). Championing ¿reflexivities¿. Qualitative Psychology, 4(2),
Pillow, W. (2003). Confession, catharsis, or cure? Rethinking the uses of
reflexivity as methodological power in qualitative research. International
Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 16(2), 175-196.
Serra Undurraga, J. K. A. (2020). Reflexivities as Affective Ways of Relating That Produce. Qualitative Inquiry, 26(7), 920¿930.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The course will enable students to generate critical knowledge about the many different ways that subjectivity and reflexivity can be conceptualised.
The students that graduate from this course will be able to engage in different types of reflexive practice in their research, profession and personal lives.

A graduate from this course will be able to develop critical thinking and practice. In particular, they will be capable of analysing the relational, social and political impact of using different types of reflexivity.
Course organiserDr Karen Serra Undurraga
Course secretaryMs Krystal Hanley
Tel: (0131 6)51 3969
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