Disability and Inclusive Development

School: School of Government
International Development Department

Modular value: 20 credits

Lecturers:David Cobley and Martin Rew

Aim of the Module

This module will introduce and explore historical and current debates around various perceptions and models of disability, and consider their impact on development policy and practice.

Case studies in the areas of education, livelihoods, health and rehabilitation will be discussed, as well the issues facing disabled people in the aftermath of conflict and natural disasters. The factors that create and reinforce disability, and continue to lead to the economic and social exclusion of disabled people, particularly in low-income countries, will be examined. The role and limitations of disabled people’s organizations, in representing disabled people, promoting disability rights and delivering services, will be considered. Relevant international agreements, especially the2006 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, will be analysed, with regard to their potential impact on the lives of disabled people.

The module will also explore debates around how to conduct research on disability, with particular reference to ‘participatory’ and ‘emancipatory’ methodologies. Students will participate in a group case study, focussing on disability policy and/or practice in a country selected by the group.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Understand and critically evaluate a range of disability concepts and models
  • Critically assess the factors that lead to differing patterns of impairment and disability prevalence, in the majority world context. 
  • Critically assess the factors and processes that lead to economic and social exclusion for disabled people, in the majority world context. 
  • Understand how experiences of disability may vary according to a range of biological, economic and social factors, including gender. 
  • Critically analyse the actual and potential impact of relevant international agreements on disability policy and practice. 
  • Understand and critically evaluate the actual and potential role of disabled people’s organizations, in representing disabled people and promoting disability rights. 
  • Critically evaluate the impact of development policies and interventions designed to support and empower disabled people, in the areas of education, livelihoods, health, rehabilitation and disaster recovery. 
  • Understand and critically evaluate current and historical debates on how to conduct research on disability.

Teaching and learning approach

The module will be delivered in three hour sessions using a range of teaching and learning methods, including lectures, group discussions and activities, student presentations, case studies and short video clips. Students will be expected to prepare for each session through individual reading, as guided, and to participate actively in the sessions.

Topics covered include:

  • Definitions, concepts and models of disability
  • Disability, poverty and diversity
  • International agreements on disability
  • Disabled people’s organizations and the international disability rights movement.
  • Enabling environments and barriers to participation
  • Disability policy and practice: Education
  • Disability policy and practice: Health and rehabilitation
  • Disability policy and practice: Livelihoods
  • Conflicts, natural disasters and disability
  • Researching disability


The assessment for the module will consist of:

  • A 1,500 word critical reflection, based on a group project and presentation, worth 30% of the marks.
  • A 3,000 word essay, worth 70% of the marks.

Related courses:

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.