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EDUC105 Disability Studies: An Introduction

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An introduction to Disability Studies, which critically examines disability issues across a wide range of disciplines as well as different socio-cultural, political, economic, historical, legal, and educational contexts.

What does it mean to be disabled? What would it be like if schools, workplaces and communities were made more inclusive for everyone?

Disability is everywhere, once you start looking for it. This paper will introduce you to Disability Studies, a multidisciplinary field of inquiry that focuses on the experiences, rights and leadership of disabled people. You will learn how to critically examine disability issues across a wide range of disciplines, as well as different socio-cultural, political, economic, historical, legal, and educational contexts. The paper is relevant to ALL students from ALL University divisions/disciplines, which enables you to learn with and from people enrolled in a range of degrees.

Former students' perspectives:
"I want to thank you for an amazing paper. It has been favourite paper here at Otago (by far), and I will recommend it for all future exchange students from Bergen!" (Norwegian exchange student feedback, 2017)

"EDUC 105 has easily been the best and most influential paper I have ever taken at University." (Student feedback, 2013)

Paper title Disability Studies: An Introduction
Paper code EDUC105
Subject Education
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $929.55
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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Schedule C
Arts and Music
An open mind and willingness to think.
Teaching staff
Dr Gill Rutherford
Paper Structure
Key Concepts:
  • Disability is a natural part of being human
  • Disability is about human rights
  • Understanding individuals' experiences of disability is critical in developing respectful ways of knowing about this aspect of human difference
  • Understanding people begins with a presumption of competence
  • Language matters
A list of course readings will be provided.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, global perspective, interdisciplinary perspective, lifelong learning, communication, critical thinking, cultural understanding, ethics.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will be able to

  1. Identify and explain the social, cultural and political dimensions of disability
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of different theoretical approaches to disability
  3. Critically analyse disabling barriers in society (e.g. cultural, attitudinal, informational, architectural, educational, economic, legal)
  4. Apply theoretical knowledge of disability in interpreting individuals' experiences across different life domains (e.g. health, education, employment, community living)
  5. Communicate personal and theoretical understandings of disability issues in a respectful manner

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Wednesday 09:00-09:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Monday 15:00-16:50 28-34, 36-41
A2 Tuesday 10:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41