Disability and Development (Distance Learning)

School: School of Government
International Development Department

Modular value: 20 credits

The module will examine debates around how to conduct research on disability, with particular reference to ‘participatory’ and ‘emancipatory’ methodologies. You will be expected to participate in an individual or group case study, exploring disability policy and/or practice in a country of your own choice.

This module will introduce historical and current debates around the various perceptions and models of disability, and consider their impact on development policy and practice. We will explore the factors that create and reinforce disability, and continue to lead to the economic and social exclusion of disabled people, particularly in the Global South. We then cover the rise of the international disability movement, with a particular focus on the role and limitations of disabled people’s organisations - should they focus on advocacy and lobbying, in line with the rights-based approach, or delivering essential services? The second half of the module covers various key disability-related development topics, including education, health and rehabilitation, livelihoods and disaster recovery.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, you should be able to:

  • Describe and critically evaluate a range of disability theories and models, and their implications for policy and practice.
  • Explain how experiences of disability may vary according to a range of social and biological factors, including gender.
  • Understand the nature of the relationship between disability and poverty and be aware of the factors that create and reinforce this relationship.
  • Critically evaluate the impact of international agreements on the lives of disabled people, with particular reference to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities  (CRPD).
  • Explain and critically evaluate the impact and limitations of disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) in representing and supporting disabled people.
  • Critically evaluate the impact and limitations of social policies and interventions designed to support disabled people in developing countries, particularly in the areas of education, health and livelihoods.
  • Identify the impact of conflicts and disasters on disabled people’s lives, and critically evaluate disability-inclusive approaches to disaster planning and management. 


Two 2,500 word assignments (each worth 50%).

Related courses:

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.