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MA Disability, Health and Illness

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  • Entry requirements
    a good honours degree in a social science discipline.
  • Course description

    If you want to investigate recent disability, health and illness policy…
    • …And get to grips with theory and practice…

    If you work, or plan to work, in the healthcare or social assistance industries…
    • …And want to examine developments in institutional and community-based care.

    …then the MA in Disability, Health and Illness is the programme for you.

    The MA in Disability, Health and Illness introduces you to a range of analysis, theory and research from Disability Studies and Medical Sociology. The programme's general overview forms a firm basis that allows you to consider, and critically evaluate, specific disability and health-related issues within the context of current welfare policies, practices and research.

    The programme highlights specific topics for their relevance to key conceptual issues. We examine current and future developments in institutional and community-based care and support for disabled people and support for their families.

    We also place particular emphasis on the changing nature of health care provision and practice, and discuss the impact of such changes on professional and lay experiences at the local, national and international level.

    The MA in Disability, Health and Illness draws on the expertise of scholars and researchers from the internationally-renowned Centre for Disability Studies in the School of Sociology and Social Policy. It the first postgraduate programme in the UK to bring together perspectives from both Disability Studies and Medical Sociology in one unitary framework.


    MA Disability, Health and Illness is available on a 12-month full-time or 24-month part-time basis. The course has five modules: three compulsory, two elective.

    Compulsory Modules
    Debates on Disability Theory and Research gives you the opportunity to critically evaluate recent debates and developments within social research on disability. Not only will you discuss positivist, interpretative and 'emancipatory' methodologies, alongside associated data collection and analytical strategies, you will also examine their significance for disability research.

    Through the module, you will investigate theoretical perspectives, the various definitions and approaches to impairment and disability, and disability as an equal opportunities and policy issue. You will explore the impact of myths and prejudices, industrialisation and the welfare state upon cultural representations of disability.

    Sociology of Health and Illness gives you the opportunity to assess sociological approaches to health, illness and medicine, and review related empirical research. The module examines socio-historical perspectives on the emergence of biomedicine, medicalisation and medical dominance, and looks at social patterns and inequalities in health status.

    Examining the practitioner-patient relationship, the module investigates consumerism and self-help, alternative medicine, the organisation and management of health care services, health policy and politics, and addresses 'healthism' and late modern culture.

    Disability, Health and Illness Dissertation allows you to tailor your own programme of training and research in consultation with a member of staff drawn from the department's MA/PhD supervisory panel.

    Through the dissertation, you demonstrate your ability to develop and complete an in-depth analysis, select and use appropriate research methods, deploy advanced theoretical concepts and relate a focused study to broader Disability, Health and Illness debates and concerns.
    Elective Modules
    In addition to the compulsory modules, you also choose two modules from the following list.
    • Fundamental Issues in Sociological Research
    • Research Strategy and Design
    • Social Policy, Politics and Disabled People
    • Race, Gender and Migration
    • Disability and Development
    • Evaluation Research
    • Negotiated Study in Disability Studies

    For more information about both the compulsory and elective modules, please consult the module catalogue .

    Postgraduate Diploma in Disability, Health and Illness
    Available on a 12-month full-time or 24-month part-time basis, the Postgraduate Diploma in Disability, Health and Illness covers similar ground to the MA, but does not include the dissertation module. On the basis of a good performance in a full-time student's first semester, or a part-timer's first year, students initially registered for the Diploma may be transferred onto the corresponding MA. 

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