Disability and Development (Distance Learning)

School: School of Government
International Development Department

Modular value: 20 credits

Lecturers: David Cobley and Martin Rew

The way in which disability is perceived has changed dramatically over the past forty years, with a growing awareness of the need for governments to promote disability rights and societies to become more inclusive of disabled people.  The 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has had a particularly galvanising effect on the international disability rights movement.  It has also highlighted the need for all development planning to take account of disability issues, as well as raising the profile of disability as an important topic within the field of international development studies.

This module aims to explore historical and current debates around the various perceptions of disability, and to consider their impact on international policy and practice, particularly in the areas of education, health, livelihoods and disaster/conflict recovery. The role of disabled people themselves, as well as the organisations that represent them, in shaping these debates and promoting disability rights will be critically examined. Additionally, the factors that continue to lead to the economic and social exclusion of disabled people will be explored

By the end of the module, students 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;
  • explain the factors that lead to economic and social exclusion for disabled people living in the majority world;
  • identify the impact of conflicts and disasters on disabled people’s lives, and critically evaluate inclusive and participatory approaches to meeting the needs of disabled people in post-conflict and post-disaster interventions.;
  • critically evaluate the impact of international agreements on the lives of disabled people, with particular reference to the CRPD;
  • explain and critically evaluate the impact and limitations of disabled people’s organisations in representing and supporting disabled people; and
  • 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.


  • Two 3,000 word assignments (each worth 50% of the module mark).

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.