Short courses


Disability and Development

  • 30 hours
  • 2 weeks (3 days per week)


The lives and wellbeing of disabled people in low and middle-income settings are closely linked to broader issues in international development.

This short course provides an overview of the disability arena from both historical and contemporary perspectives, taking a critical standpoint on the key issues, with a global focus.

Taking a human rights approach, you'll look at the experiences and challenges for disabled people, and for different types of stakeholders and actors.

You'll also reflect on how the lives of disabled people and their families might be improved.

This course is run by UCL's Institute for Global Health (IGH).

Course content

This course introduces and explores historical and contemporary concepts and models of disability, and discusses links with major issues in community development (e.g. health and illness, gender, education, poverty, social participation and exclusion).

You'll learn about international legislation in relation to disability, and the cultural and sociopolitical contexts in which this has developed.

You'll look at ways in which the lives of disabled people and their families might be improved across sectors (e.g. not just in health, but in education, justice etc.).

Your knowledge, assumptions and attitudes towards disability will be stretched and challenged as you explore in detail a broad range of issues related to disability across sectors, with a global focus.

You'll learn about the following areas:

  • Historical and contemporary perspectives on major movements, terminology and attitudes to disability
  • Major historical and contemporary international disability legislation, guidelines and national initiatives
  • Relationships between disability and human rights 
  • Disability as part of intersectionality, identity and gender issues
  • Inclusion as a key concept in disability studies; the mainstreaming/inclusion and independent-living movements and inclusive-education movement
  • Disability and culture, disability and poverty, disability in relation to health, disease and illness
  • Models of service delivery for disabled people focusing on public health approaches and community-based rehabilitation
  • Doing disability related research - models and methods
  • Critical analysis and reflection on issues in disability literature and service provision arenas

Who this course is for

This course is suitable for professionals and practitioners working at UK and international NGOs, disabled people's organisations, public sector organisations and universities.

It will be useful to anyone embarking on or already involved in a disability-related career path, either within mainstream/inclusive provision or in a specialist setting. 

For someone already working in this field it will provide valuable access to a wealth of materials, and a chance to reflect in depth on the key debates and dilemmas in the disability arena.

Teaching, structure and assessment

This course is taught on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays over two weeks.

The course includes a mixture of lectures, group work activities and private study. Teaching is by UCL staff and external speakers, including disabled people and practitioners from relevant organisations.

As a short course student you won't be formally assessed, but you're expected to fully participate in group work. You'll receive a certificate of attendance on completion of the course.

This course can also be taken as a taster course, allowing you to earn UCL credits.

The taster course is assessed by a 3,000 word essay.

Find out more about the difference between short and taster courses on the IGH website.

Learning outcomes 

On completing this course you'll be able to:

  • outline historical terminology and definitions of disability and impairment 
  • describe contemporary movements, attitudes and beliefs in relation to disability and consider how these intersect with culture and with the international development agenda
  • outline the key international legislation, guidelines and policies concerning disability and relate these to service strategy planning and community action
  • discuss ways in which issues in disability are linked to those in health, education and community development in diverse settings
  • explain the development of different models of community disability services and inclusive development and link these to current thinking about disability
  • be familiar with issues relevant to planning a new disability service or inclusive community development 
  • explore links between disability, gender and poverty and particularly challenging contexts such as conflicts and emergency situations
  • explain the particular issues in doing research which arise in relation to disability
  • critically discuss current issues concerning mainstreaming, inclusion and development

Entry requirements 

For the short course you'll need:

  • professional work experience in a relevant area and/or a first or second-class honours degree in a relevant subject
  • a good standard of English proficiency

Cost and concessions

The fees for the short course are:

  • Home/EU - £850
  • Overseas - £1,200
  • Overseas low-middle income countries - £750
  • IGH staff - free 
  • other UCL staff - £400
  • IGH/UCL alumni - £650

The fees for the taster course are:

  • Home/EU - £950
  • Overseas - £1,300
  • Overseas low-middle income countries - £850
  • IGH staff - £100
  • other UCL staff - £500
  • IGH/UCL alumni - £750
Learner reviews

"Disability was a whole new topic for me. I have now a basic understanding of this issue, but the module has also provided insight in how to approach this topic by myself in future." [MSc student working in international development, 2015]

"The module has broadened my awareness and I have a greater interest in disability research." [Practitioner working for an international NGO, 2015]

Course information last modified: 30 Nov 2022, 16:00