Credit points


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Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit is a foundational unit. Together with EDAC137 Disability Studies, this unit provides a basis for understanding the social construction of disability. These units provide a foundation for the development of knowledge, skills and dispositions required for future units in the course.

This unit is foundational in developing the overall course outcome of recognising how attitudes are formed and perpetuated. The unit aims to engender a broad understanding of the impacts that societal attitudes towards disabilities have on the social experiences of people with a disability. Attitude formation evident in past and current discourse is examined and compared with students' own familial, cultural, and peer group experiences. Processes and effects of stereotyping are identified by examination of media to articulate everyday examples of the ways people may be socially excluded. Students are encouraged to actively confront and develop strategies to address the barriers faced by people living with disability.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Identify society’s view of difference and disability in relation to various marginalised groups (GA4, GA6)

LO2 - Critique the role of the media in the portrayal and representation of people living with disability and its impact on attitudes (GA1, GA4)

LO3 - Explain the impact of categorisation and labelling (GA1, GA6).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account.


Topics will include: 

  • Attitude formation 
  • Attitudes towards gender, sexuality and Indigenous experience 
  • Contemporary understanding of disability and inclusion 
  • Attitudes and disability 
  • Media and attitudes.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

150 hours in total with a normal expectation of 36 hours of directed study and the total contact hours should not exceed 36 hours. Directed study might include lectures, tutorials, webinars, podcasts etc. The balance of the hours then becomes private study. 

The teaching and learning strategy may take a number of forms including a combination of face to face and/or online learning delivered on a weekly or intensive schedule. Tutorials and/or synchronous learning will enable students to participate in cooperative and supportive learning opportunities. All learning modes will be delivered and/or supported by a range of resources and activities on ACU’s technology learning platform (LEO). Inclusion recognises each individual's right to be treated equally, and to be accorded the same opportunities as all other people. Case studies of individuals with disability will be examined with scenarios involving problem solving approaches.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessments in this unit aim to deepen students understanding of how labelling, categorizing and attitudes are formed towards marginalized groups. Assessment task one requires students reflecting on (LO1) their own attitude towards people with disabilities and discusses how the models of attitude formation have shaped these views. Task two requires analysing and critiquing a piece of published media whilst being reflective of contemporary understanding of disability and inclusivity (LO1, 2). The final assessment task is an essay critically reflecting on marginalised groups in society being oppressed and identifies how attitudes towards them have been formed (LO1, 2, 3).  

These assessments provide a platform for students to think critically and reflectively in all tasks to deepen their own understanding and become aware of how marginalised groups are impacted by societal attitudes.

Minimum Achievement Standards 

The assessment tasks and their weighting for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome. To pass this unit, students are required to submit and participate in all assessment tasks 

The total of assessment tasks will amount to the equivalent of 4,000 words. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1 

1,000 words 

Reflection on personal attitude formation



GA1, GA4

Assessment Task 2 

1,500 words 

Critique of a media piece explaining how attitudes and stereotypes are portrayed and may impact on attitudes



GA1, GA4

Assessment Task 3 

1,500 words 

Essay on attitude formation and its impact on contemporary issues facing people with disabilities


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA1, GA4

Representative texts and references

Briant, E., Watson, N., & Philo, G. (2013). Reporting Disability In The Age of Austerity: the changing face of media representation of disability and disabled people in the United Kingdom and the creation of new ‘folk devils’, Disability & Society, 28(6), 874-889. 

MacMillan, M., Tarrant, M., Abraham, C. & Morris, C. (2014). The Association Between Children's Contact With People With Disabilities And Their Attitudes Towards Disability: a systematic review. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 56, 529–546.  

Morin, D., Rivard, M., Crocker, A. G., Boursier, C. P. & Caron, J. (2013). Public Attitudes Towards Intellectual Disability: a multidimensional perspective. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 57, 279–292 

Oliver, M. (2009). Understanding Disability: from theory to practice. Palgrave; Macmillan. 

Pirsl, D., & Popovska, S. (2013). Media Mediated Disability: How to Avoid Stereotypes. International Journal of Scientific Engineering and Research (IJSER), 1(4).  

Shakespeare, T. (2013). Disability rights and wrongs revisited. London: Routledge.

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