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Unit information: Global Contexts of Rights and Disability in 2016/17

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Unit name Global Contexts of Rights and Disability
Unit code SPOLM0049
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Val Williams
Open unit status Open

Part-time route: Successful completion of at least one mandatory unit (SPOLM0013 or ACHSM0001) or an equivalent unit in social science research methods.

Full-time route: Successful completion of two mandatory units from the following: SPOLM0013, ACHSM0001, SPOLM0014 and SPOLM0015 or two equivalent units in social science research methods



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

Description including Unit Aims

The purpose of this optional unit is to introduce, explore and reflect on notions of ‘disability’ as they apply to contexts at an international level in various countries, both in developed and developing areas of the world. Disability Studies is an international discipline, but has been dependent largely on theoretical frameworks developed in Western countries, particularly the UK and the US. There are however international Human Rights instruments, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which have global reach and have been endorsed both by developed and developing countries. This unit will enable students to explore Disability Studies, and to apply the central theoretical ideas about disability and oppression to the diverse range of contexts in which disability is experienced. These will include a range of international contexts, as well as specific intersections with global issues of migration, health and welfare provision, violence and criminality. A critical appreciation of research in the field will be central to the unit, both in its content, but also in the scope there is to apply research skills to some under-researched areas relating to the lives of disabled people globally.

The aims are:

  • To introduce and critically reflect on theories in Disability Studies, as they relate to a global policy and legal context.
  • To explore the contributions of disabled people and their movements internationally, with policy, law and research.
  • To examine the human rights of disabled people, and the barriers they may face in achieving those rights.
  • To explore how barriers and problems can be addressed in practice.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

1) identify and demonstrate understanding of key theories of disability, Human Rights and policy relating to disability

2) reflect critically on contemporary research in Disability Studies

3) explore legal frameworks relating to Human Rights and Disability

4) assess and appreciate the potential for participation and leadership by disabled people themselves.

Teaching Information

A mix of lectures, interactive sessions and small group exercises will form the core of the teaching, with a varied input on each day of the intensive three-day block.

International guest speakers will contribute by Skype (for instance, from India and Malta).

Disabled people with direct lived experience of the issues discussed in the Unit will be included in some sessions as tutors or guest speakers, in line with practices developed successfully in other MDS units.

Assessment Information

Formative assessment: preparatory reading, to be critiqued and presented to fellow students during the unit, with tutor feedback on how to approach and critically present literature.

Summative assessment will consist of a 4,000 word essay to assess the learning outcomes have been met.

Reading and References

  • Erevelles, N. (2011) Disability and Difference in Global Contexts. Palgrave-Macmillan.
  • Kanter, A.S. (2015) The Development of Disability Rights under International Law: from charity to human rights. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • MacLachlan, M. (2009) Disability and International Development: Towards Inclusive Global Health. Springer Verlag, New York.
  • Mitchell, D. & Karr, V. (eds) (2015) Crises, Conflict and Disability: Ensuring Equality. London Routledge.