Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit is a foundational unit for the course. Together with EDAC133 Attitudes and Inclusion, 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 for achieving the overall course outcome of recognising how attitudes are formed and perpetuated. Understanding of the nature of disability has varied throughout history and across cultures. The dominant understanding of disability has been that it is an individual's deficiency. More contemporary approaches view disability as a social construct dependent on the interaction of impairment, the degree to which the impairment impacts on what individuals can do, personal attributes and social responses to disability. These approaches have been underpinned by various theoretical frameworks for understanding disability and accompanied by a shift in focus from specialist and largely segregated services to community based, inclusive responses. This unit will provide an introduction to understanding the social and historical concepts related to how disability is understood, theoretical frameworks for understanding issues related to disability and how these relate to professional practice.

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 - Articulate reasons that some groups in society (including those living with disability) are at risk of being marginalized (GA1)

LO2 - Describe historical approaches and responses to disability. (GA1, GA3)

LO3 - Appraise the contribution and influence of contemporary service philosophies and theoretical frameworks to understanding disability (GA5)

LO4 - Describe contemporary approaches for responding to disability issues (GA5).

Graduate attributes

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

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 


Topics will include: 

  • Marginalisation 
  • Social and historical understandings and responses to disability 
  • Theoretical frameworks for understanding disability 
  • Integrating theoretical frameworks in practice 
  • Contemporary service practice

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, depending on specific course/subject requirements at the time of delivery, this may include 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). Case studies of individuals with disability will be examined with scenarios involving problem solving approaches.

Assessment strategy and rationale

This unit has three assessment tasks. The first assessment task requires reflection on experiences of those with a disability segregated and inclusive settings (LO1 & 2). The second task requires describing and comparing contemporary theoretical frameworks (LO3 & 4). The purpose of the third assessment is for students to reflect on their own professional practice (LO4). 

These assessments enhance student’s ability to articulate reasons as to why some groups become marginalized, they will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the historical approaches to disability, and by using theoretical frameworks students will be able to describe effective contemporary approaches when responding to disability issues. 

Minimum Achievement Standards 

The assessment tasks and their weighting for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome. In order to pass this unit, students are required to participate in and submit all assessment tasks and gain an overall score of 50% or more. 

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-word essay  

Discuss the major problems that have arisen in service models that congregate and segregate


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA3

Assessment Task 2 

1,500-word essay 

Describe escribe the key contemporary theoretical frameworks for understanding disability and compare these to traditional frameworks 


LO3, L04


Assessment Task 3 

1,500 word reflection 

will Reflect on new understandings about disability and theoretical approaches, and implications for  professional practice



GA1, GA3

Representative texts and references

Brown, H., & Smith, H. (2012). Normalisation A reader. Hoboken, NJ: Taylor and Francis. 

Davis, L.J. (2013). The disability studies reader (4th ed.). London: Taylor and Francis. 

Fleischer, D., & Zames, F. (2011). The disability rights movement: From charity to confrontation. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.  

Goodley, D., Hughes, B., & Davis, L. (Eds) (2012). Disability and social theory: New developments and directions. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan 

Oliver, M., Sapey, R., & Thomas, P. (2012). Social work with disabled people (4th ed). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Watson, N., Roulstone, A., & Thomas, C. (eds) (2012). Routledge handbook of disability studies. Hoboken, NJ: Taylor and Francis 

Shakespeare, T. (2014). Disability rights and wrongs revisited (2nd ed.). London; New York: Routledge.

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