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Unit information: Citizenship and Participation in 2014/15

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Unit name Citizenship and Participation
Unit code ACHSM0002
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
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

Description including Unit Aims

The inclusion of disabled people in policy-making has become a cornerstone of Government policy in England and in the UK (e.g. PSU, 2005). People with learning disabilities are also expected to become full partners in this process, in particular for those services and service developments that support their lives (DoH, 2001). The process of inclusion has progressed further for people with learning disabilities in the UK than in any other country, but there is still a great need to understand and discuss the issues, improve practice, and ensure that the process is meaningful and leads to real policy change. This unit will allow students to explore the theory and practice of inclusion in policy-making; it will also look at the impact of devolution on participation in policy making. The unit will take a critical look at 'tokenism' and what is meant by that; it will focus on particular strategies for successful inclusion, and will explore the vexed question of how participation can lead to change.


The purpose of this unit is to enable students to explore the issues and develop skills in including ‘end users’ in service and policy developments. In particular, the aims are:

  • To equip students with the knowledge and understanding required to carry out partnership work, in the particular context of working with people with learning disabilities.
  • To articulate the particular benefits of working inclusively with people with learning disabilities in policy-making and service development.
  • To listen to and respect the voices and opinions of people with learning disabilities as equal partners.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  • analyse and explain the main benefits of service users being involved in policy development
  • understand how participation can lead to policy change, both in England and in other UK situations under devolved government
  • describe and synthesize developments in the inclusion of people with learning disabilities in policy-making
  • identify and critique the issues for people with learning disabilities relating to competence, capacity and full citizenship
  • identify practical approaches that support good partnership working with people with learning disabilities
  • construct an easy-to-understand model for including people in policy-making in a meaningful way.

Teaching Information

The unit will be delivered using a combination of participatory methodologies which, as far as possible, mirror the topic of the unit. Thus, most importantly, disabled people and people with learning disabilities will be co-tutors on at least two taught sessions in the unit. The sessions will also include methods which include and empower participants by:

a) validating and sharing the experiences of the students

b) utilising small group work to develop methodologies and apply them to the students’ own situations

Assessment Information

This unit will be assessed by one of two alternative assignments, both of 4,000 words.

a) Students may choose to explore one or more aspects of participation by people with learning disabilities through a literature review, and write a critical account of the effectiveness of particular methods of participation. The literature review should include both published and ‘grey material’ – i.e. unpublished or non-academic reports of initiatives carried out.

b) Students may choose to engage in an exercise to include people with learning disabilities in policy making (this could be in their own professional practice). The written assignment will consist of a reasoned, critical assessment, showing evidence of reflective practice.

Reading and References

  • Aitchison, R. Hersov, E., Hersov, J., Perez, W. and Towell, D. (2001) Deciding Together: working with people with learning disabilities to plan services and supports (London: King’s College).
  • Simons, K. (1999) A Place at the Table? (York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation)
  • Social Care Institute for Excellence (2004) Position paper 3: Has service user participation made a difference to social care services?
  • Ramcharan, P., Roberts, G., Grant, G. and Borland, J. (1997) Empowerment in Everyday Life: learning disability. London: Jessica Kingsley.
  • Kovarsky, D., Duchan, J. and Maxwell, M. (eds) (1999) Constructing (In)Competence: Disabling evaluations in clinical and social interaction. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.