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

Undergraduate Course: Introduction to Disability Studies (SHSS10012)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Health in Social Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course has been developed in association with EUSA's Disabled Students' Officer and in consultation with UG students from across the University to provide an opportunity for students to study disability from a social sciences perspective. This intersectional, critical, social science course focuses on advocacy and the lived experience of disabled people.
Course description This interdisciplinary course introduces students to the growing and important field of disability studies. Recent events have drawn attention to the urgent need for societies to work towards ensuring that all people are enabled to participate fully and to be treated equitably at every level of social organisation.

This course has a strong focus on the lived experience of disability and values the knowledge embodied in this experience. It takes an explicit advocacy orientation, exploring the range of challenges experienced by disabled people locally, nationally and globally, while critically examining policies and interventions aimed at helping to reduce and eliminate barriers to full participation. It also takes an intersectional approach, looking at how disability intersecting with other aspects of identity such as race, ethnicity, age and gender provide additional challenges that need to be taken into account in interventions aimed at eliminating inequities.

As an interdisciplinary course, we welcome students with an interest in the topic from any and every part of the University to join us in discussing and learning about this important topic and in building an academic community in which no one is excluded.

The voices of disabled people are at the centre of this course, providing students with the opportunity to learn from the embodied, lived experience of disability. In order to deepen understandings of this lived experience and to develop critical capacities in relation to evaluating policies and interventions for improving access and participation for all, the course will introduce perspectives from a range of social science disciplines. We will critically examine the different ways in which disability has been (and continues to be) defined and understood within and without the social sciences and how this impacts on lived experience. The course is team taught and from year to year will cover a different range of additional topics, which might include:;

Disability in professional practice. How disability is approached across health and social-care practices and how this is experienced by disabled people
Narratives of disability. How people story their lived experiences and how these stories come into conflict with and are shaped by other stories.
Disability and gender. How the intersections of gender and disability impact on lived experience and how taking an intersectional approach helps to improve advocacy, interventions and policy-making
Disability and design. How can the design field and their approaches to disability help us to understand disability in the social sciences
Disability and technology. How is technology changing the way disabled people participate in society?
Care and disability. Taking a feminist ethics approach to disability in society.
The geography of disability. How can human geography help us to understand the lived experience of disability?

In keeping with best practices for accessible learning, the course will be delivered in a blended format, enabling flexible engagement on the part of students as needed. This blended delivery includes on-campus teaching, which will be recorded and posted online, as well as online activities for everyone to engage in. There will also be tutorial groups for pre-honours students and a weekly one-hour seminar for honours students. Again, these will be delivered in a blended format, so that if students are unable to attend their group one week, they will be enabled to participate in some other capacity.

All assessments will be coursework-based and are aimed at giving students the opportunity to focus on an area of disability studies of particular relevance, while integrating learning across the ten weeks of the programme. In keeping of the advocacy orientation of this course, part of the assessment will be outward-facing, in the form of a blog-post.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Introduction to Disability Studies (Pre-Honours) (SHSS08006)
Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. To be able to integrate knowledge of the scope, defining features, concepts, theories and relevant debates within the field of disability studies.
  2. To be able to critically compare and evaluate approaches to the identification of complex problems facing disabled people and responses to these problems.
  3. Demonstrate an ability to communicate a critical understanding of a complex topic in disability studies to a non-specialist audience.
  4. Work with others to bring about change, development and/or new thinking in relation to disability.
Reading List
Barnes, E. (2016), The Minority Body: a Theory of Disability. Oxford.
Barnes, E. (2014), 'Valuing disability, causing disability', Ethics 125(1), 88113.
Bates, S., Hardy, J., Hill, J. and McKain, D. (2008). 'How design of online learning materials can accommodate the heterogeneity in student abilities, aptitudes and aspirations'. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, 2. 3-25.**
Bolt, D. (2018), Cultural Disability Studies in Education. Abingdon.
Davis, L. (2013), The Disability Studies Reader. Abingdon.
Garland-Thompson, R. (1997), Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature, New York.
Hewett, H. (2006), At the crossroads: disability and trauma in The Farming of Bones. MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States, 31(3), 123-145.
Nielsen, K. (2013). A Disability History of the United States. Boston.
Ryan, F. (2019) Crippled: Austerity and the Demonization of Disabled People, London and New York.
Kafer, A. (2013) Feminist, Queer, Crip. Bloomington.
Schweik, S. (2009), The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public. New York.
Shaw, A. (2020), "Let COVID-19 expand awareness of disability tech", Nature 581.
Wendell, S. (1996), The Rejected Body: Feminist Philosophical Reflections on Disability. Abingdon.
Wong, A. (2020), Disability Visibility: First Person Stories From the Twenty-First Century. New York.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills This course, which takes an advocacy approach, enables students to gain learning that makes a positive difference to life on campus and to the world around them, by sharing lived experiences of disability and learning to critically engage with policy and interventions aimed at enabling equitable participation in society by all.
This course will look at all levels of social organisation from the local community to the global. With the focus on equity and engagement with the lived experiences of disabled people, students will develop their innate abilities to be respectful and respond ethically and positively to everyone.
The course will help students to hone their critical skills through introducing them to a ranges of theories and perspectives on disability and asking them to critically engage not just with academic work, but also with real world interventions. Their open-mindedness will be expanded through their engagements with the lived experiences of disabled people.
KeywordsDisability,intersectionality,liberation identities,social sciences,advocacy
Course organiserDr Eva Joanna Alexjuk
Tel: (0131 6)51 3942
Course secretaryMiss Morven Sutherland
Tel: (0131 6)51 3972
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