Disability Studies, Rights and Inclusion MSc

Year of entry

Register your interest

Find out more about our online postgraduate courses in Disability Studies. Register your interest

Start date
March 2024 (induction in February) September 2024 (induction in August) March 2025 (induction in February)
Delivery type
Online exclusive
24 months part time
Entry requirements
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) and/or relevant experience.
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component
UK fees
£12,750 (Total)
International fees
£12,750 (Total)

Course overview

Distance learner at home, using tablet and headphones.

For March 2024 start, please see course information for academic year 2023/24. The information on this page relates to start dates from September 2024 onwards.

Make a difference in the field of disability rights and social justice with this ground-breaking new online Masters degree in Disability Studies, Rights and Inclusion.

The study of disability has never been more important. Globally, there are around 1 billion disabled people and with an ageing population in many countries this figure is set to rise.

Disability is an important equality and human rights issue, with disabled people more likely to experience poverty and receive fewer education and employment opportunities than non-disabled people.

The online MSc Disability Studies, Rights and Inclusion will support you to recognise, understand and meet the challenges facing disabled people around the world. By studying this innovative online degree, you’ll be equipped to work to ensure that disabled people’s rights are respected, helping to build more inclusive and sustainable societies.

As an online learner you’ll join a global classroom with like-minded learners from around the world, in an accessible and inclusive online environment. Study the course that suits you - with our flexible course structure, you could work towards the Masters qualification, a postgraduate certificate or postgraduate diploma.

Whether you are already active in the field of disability rights, or looking to take your first steps, this course gives you the knowledge, skills and confidence you need to be a change-maker in the field of social justice and disability activism.

You’ll explore:

  • global perspectives on disability issues
  • the social creation of disability and social models of disability
  • cultural and human rights frameworks
  • how and why disabled people experience inequalities
  • building inclusive societies and futures
  • the role and impact of disability activism and advocacy with an intersectional approach
  • influencing disability policy, services and practice in a range of sectors, including law, architecture and design, medicine and healthcare, and the creative industries
  • relationships with other areas of study including gender studies, transport studies and geography
  • global issues such as climate change, natural disasters and conflict from a disability rights perspective

Who is this course for?

  • disabled people and their allies
  • policy makers
  • service providers and professionals in the field of disability
  • professionals working in NGOs and community organisations
  • those new to disability, or who wish to think about disability differently, looking for a safe, affirming learning environment
  • those interested in disability rights and inclusion who wish to explore this field of study

Why study this subject at Leeds?

The University of Leeds is ranked in the global top 100 and in the top 15 in the UK (QS World University Rankings 2023). Our online Disability Studies, Rights and Inclusion Masters is taught by the School of Sociology and Social Policy and informed by our Centre for Disability Studies.

You’ll be taught by our expert academics with contributions from activists, policy makers and practitioners working in the disability space globally.

The School of Sociology and Social Policy is ranked in the global top 100 for Sociology (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022). The School has an international reputation for research on social change that has set new agendas, developed new concepts and methodologies, and transformed policy and practice.

Leeds has pioneered education in the field of Disability Studies since 1990 and is recognised as a global leader in the field. The Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Leeds was the first university centre in the UK to establish disability studies as an academic field of research and study.

The Centre is committed to achieving equality and social justice for disabled people globally. Our academics are well-known for their work in the areas of disability politics, policy and practice, the sociology of disability, disability law and human rights, and inclusive design.

The University of Leeds offers a world-class online learning journey within a specialised learning environment. You’ll connect with professionals across the world within our virtual social spaces and learn from expert academics who conduct regular live sessions for interactive learning.

Why study Disability Studies, Rights and Inclusion?

Video transcript
Audio described version of the video

Course details

Our Disability Studies, Rights and Inclusion online course has been designed to cater for online postgraduate learners from around the world who wish to balance their studies with other commitments.

The course will begin with a two-week online induction designed to prepare you for online learning at the University of Leeds. It will introduce the study skills you will need to successfully complete your degree.

There are nine 15-credit taught online modules and you will typically spend eight weeks studying each module. The modules cover a variety of subject areas such as Disability and Inequality, Building Enabling Futures and Becoming Change-Makers.

Taught modules typically include 10 hours of tutor-guided learning per week, along with 10 hours of self-guided study per week, plus an assessment at the end of each module. You will take part in a weekly scheduled webinar to collaborate with other students and your tutor. A module discussion board and an online programme area will also be available for you to connect with your fellow students and share your learning journey.

After finishing the nine 15-credit taught modules you then complete a 45-credit applied project over 24 weeks.

The applied project is designed to be flexible, giving you the chance to apply your newly acquired skills and knowledge to a project that supports or promotes meaningful change. It is an opportunity to explore a topic of your choice in more depth and in an applied context. You can choose to:

  • Address a specific challenge, working in partnership with a disability rights or disabled people’s organisation, service provider, or policy or practice focused organisation (this could be your employer).
  • Conduct a research project into a specific issue or concept to inform activism and advocacy, or make recommendations for policy, programmes or professional practice.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Disability Studies, Rights and Inclusion MSc in the course catalogue

Disability and Inequality (15 credits): This foundation module examines the nature and operation of disability inequalities in contemporary global contexts and how they are experienced, defined, measured and explained by a variety of actors. You’ll develop a critical awareness of the range of contexts in which disability inequalities operate, the disadvantages they cause and the social, political, cultural, economic and institutional factors that create and perpetuate them.  

Understanding Disability (15 credits): The big ideas of the disabled people’s movement have transformed lives and set the intellectual culture of disability studies. In this module we will explore a critical history of these big ideas demonstrating how these have led to practical solutions to many of the injustices experienced by disabled people and making visible the horizon of the inclusive society.

Disability and Inclusion (15 credits): Introduces the nature and lived experience of exclusion, and the principles and practices of inclusion in contemporary global contexts. Taking as its starting point the concepts of belonging, community, equality and inequality and justice, this module considers the different ways exclusion impacts different populations with a particular focus on disability. It introduces the nature and lived experience of exclusion, and the principles and practices of inclusion in contemporary global contexts. This module provides foundation knowledge for identifying, resisting and challenging barriers for disabled people and for building theories and practices of inclusion.

Building Enabling Futures (15 credits): In this module you’ll critically consider how governments and civil society have sought to meet the needs of disabled people and the implications of this for disabled people’s lives. You’ll investigate and explore disabled people’s responses to the disability business and the disabling state, and how these have changed ideas about appropriate and effective services and provision. In particular, the module explores how the articulation of Independent Living as the aspiration of the disabled people’s movement has created a powerful challenge to existing policies and practices. 

A Human Rights Approach to Disability (15 credits): This module explores disability as a human rights issue and considers the development and influence of the human rights approach to developing disability legislation, policy, programmes and practices. We will examine the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD, 2006) and its relationship to other international human rights conventions, laws and policies.  You’ll examine topics such as independent living, inclusive education, work and employment, access to justice, freedom from violence/abuse, political participation and inclusive leisure/recreation through a human rights ‘lens’. 

Realising Disability Equality through Policy (15 credits): This module looks critically at public policy reforms in the field of disability equality. It provides an understanding of opportunities for policy change, explores the choices facing policy makers and examines the factors that shape policy reform. You’ll learn about policy processes and critically evaluate real-world case studies, including policy challenges identified by students or that are relevant to their interests.

Disability and Global Challenges (15 credits): This module asks "what are the key global challenges in the 21st Century?" You will consider how disability intersects with these challenges and the implications for disabled people globally. You’ll critically engage with debates about why certain issues are cast as global challenges and others are not, and assess the specific experiences of disabled people in relation to these challenges. You’ll question what disability inclusion and justice mean in the context of these challenges and the developing responses to them. 

Doing Disability Research (15 credits): This module outlines a rights-based approach to disability research and introduces you to the main approaches and debates in the field. This includes engaging with key ethical debates, sampling, plus a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods. The module will introduce strategies and provide the opportunity to develop or enhance skills in the scoping, design and critical appraisal of research. 

Becoming Change-Makers (15 credits): What does it mean to be an effective human-rights defender or disability-inclusion change-maker? What strategies have been used, successfully, to bring about positive change in the lives of disabled people? This module will allow you to explore these questions and find answers. Learning from real-world case-studies and from international change-makers (disability activists, legal advocates, radical practitioners and academic-activists) you will grapple with the challenges involved in, and opportunities available to effect positive change.

Disability Studies Applied Project (45 credits): This project provides an opportunity to explore your own interests within disability rights and inclusion in more depth, with a strong focus on effecting positive change. The module combines taught sessions with independent study, supervised by an academic member of staff, and a strong emphasis on peer support and learning. You’ll be given guidance to help you define a rich, stimulating and achievable project and to plan, monitor and review your progress with your supervisor and cohort. There is the opportunity to work with a partner organisation if appropriate.

Learning and teaching

Join our powerful learning network

You’ll be taught by our expert academics with contributions from activists, policy makers and practitioners working in the disability space globally. When you start the course you become a member of our vibrant, global community of over 500 disability studies alumni who have completed Masters or PhD programmes in the field of disability studies at Leeds.

Flexible learning

You can take the course at your own pace and adapt your studies to fit around your work and life commitments.

To give you flexibility, it is possible to pause your studies and take them up again at a later point. Most students will complete the modules in turn over two years, but there is flexibility to take a break and re-join the programme within a maximum of four years.

If you don’t wish to commit to the full Masters degree, you may like to consider our PG Cert or PG Diploma, which involves fewer modules. Please contact the admissions team if you’d like further information or to discuss these options.

Online learning environment

Your learning will be delivered online via our award-winning virtual learning environment, Minerva. You will study through live online sessions with our module tutors in a mixture of structured and open-ended learning techniques.

We recognise that people have busy lives, so with a 100% online delivery mode, you can manage your learning around your employment and other commitments, without the need to disrupt your life. You will study with a world-leading UK institution without the additional cost of living. We will also provide many tools, including study planners, to help you track your progress and better manage your time.

Read more about studying online with Leeds.


We aim to make your online learning experience as accessible as possible. The majority of the course material conforms to the latest international Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 (WCAG 2.1 AAA). For example, all video resources will include captions and transcription, and you’ll have options to participate in online classrooms by both typing and oral speech. Some activities or third-party material may not meet these standards, and we will aim to make any reasonable adjustments that may support your learning. For example, our transcription centre can provide alternative format text.

Minerva is our online learning platform, which can be accessed on different devices including smartphones, tablets and laptop or desktop computers, whenever and wherever it suits you. The platform has been designed by a team of experts to ensure your online learning experience is of the highest quality and prepares you for success, both academically and professionally.

We recommend a high-speed broadband internet connection with a minimum speed of 1.5 Mbps. You will need regular access to a desktop computer, tablet, or laptop, with a webcam. You will also need the ability to view PDF documents and work in Microsoft Office (software provided).

Student Support

As an online student with the University of Leeds you will have access to a wide range of student support. Whether in relation to disability, personal tutoring, emergency situations or counselling, you will be supported through every step of your learning journey to ensure you can make the most of your studies. Find out more about our student support service

Disability Services at Leeds

Disability Services provides advice, guidance and support to both current and prospective disabled students. There's a wide range of support available to you throughout your studies. You are encouraged contact Disability Services before starting your studies - as far in advance as possible - to make sure we can support your learning from the start. Find out more about support for remote learners

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


Assessments provide an opportunity for you to demonstrate the knowledge and skills you have developed in the module. You will be able to focus on areas and topics that are important to you.

Each week your learning will be tailored to support you in completing the assessment. You will also have the option to submit your assessments in different ways.

Our assessment methods include:

  • case studies
  • reports
  • inclusive design plan
  • briefing papers
  • human rights bulletins
  • research proposal
  • presentations


Entry requirements

A 2.1 (hons) bachelor degree, ideally in a social science or humanities related subject.
A 2.1 (hons) bachelor degree in any other subject plus relevant experience
A 2.2 (hons) degree in any subject with at least three years relevant experience.

Applications will be individually assessed.

We accept a range of international equivalent admissions qualifications. For further information, please contact our admissions team.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

How to apply

The link at the top of this page takes you to the University's online application system, where you can start your application for this course.

Read more about applying for taught postgraduate programmes before you start your application.

If you require assistance in completing the online application, please contact onlineadmissions@leeds.ac.uk and a member of our team will be happy to help.


The University of Leeds requires all applicants for fully online programmes to provide proof of their identity at the point of application. Accepted forms of ID are:

  • Passport photo page, or
  • Driving licence, or
  • National identity card.


The deadline for applications to join each intake are outlined below:

Candidates may be invited to interview by telephone or online as part of the selection process.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Admissions Policy 2025

This course is taught by

School of Sociology and Social Policy

Contact us

Online Admissions team

Email: onlineadmissions@leeds.ac.uk


UK: £12,750 (Total)

International: £12,750 (Total)

These fees apply to those starting their course between September 2024 and July 2025.

The fee is composed of (which can be paid on a module-by-module basis*):

  • nine taught modules (15 credits each): £1,170 per module
  • project module fee (45 credits): £2,220

* If you are receiving a student loan or your fees are being paid directly to the University by your employer or sponsor you will not be able to pay on a module-by-module basis. Please check with the Admissions Team.

Additional cost information

Read more about paying for online courses.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

Graduates of the University of Leeds (or an affiliated institution) are entitled to a 10% bursary towards tuition fees. Find out more about eligibility for the alumni bursary and how to apply.

UK students may be able to apply for a UK government-backed loan and there may be specific terms and conditions for online courses. Applications should be made through the Student Loans Company. Visit the UK Government website to find out more.

If you have a disability there are a range of external funding and scholarships that you may be eligible for, including:

  • Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) - UK students may be eligible for a government bursary that can fund additional support for your studies. Find out more about the Disabled Students Allowance.

  • Snowdon Masters Grants and Scholarships - the Snowdon Trust is a UK charity that awards grants to support disability-related study costs for online or on-campus study with UK universities. They also offer scholarships for disabled students starting Masters level study (2023 applications are now closed). Funding is open to both UK and international students. Visit the Snowdon Trust website to find out more.

Career opportunities

The School of Sociology and Social Policy and our Centre for Disability Studies have long established links with organisations in the UK and overseas. Our experts provide research and consultancy, working with local, national and international organisations to help achieve equality and social justice for disabled people, globally. Our influential network of academics and professionals includes organisations such as the European Network on Independent Living, UNESCO, the International Disability Alliance and Harvard Law School’s Project on Disability.

Thanks to our global connections, you’ll be able to hear first-hand from inspiring contributors about the real-world challenges and opportunities for your future career. Your applied project is also an opportunity to explore an area you are passionate about, with the opportunity to work in partnership with an appropriate organisation, and with expert academic supervision.

As a graduate, you'll be well placed to develop your career in governments and organisations around the globe in a wide range of professional fields. This may include health and social support services, activism, education, statutory and voluntary agencies, legal services, national and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs and INGOs), human resources, business environments and charities. You would also be well prepared for further research at PhD level and careers in disability research or academia.

Careers support

You will have access to the University of Leeds Careers Service’s extensive online resources to help you make the most of your studies and support you to achieve your ambitions.

This includes:

  • One-to-one support from a careers advisor via telephone or virtual meeting
  • Online career workshops and webinars
  • A database of job opportunities and online employer events
  • E-resources including the University of Leeds LinkedIn Learning platform
  • CV writing tips
  • Job application support
  • Interview skills advice and practice sessions

The Careers Service can often connect students wishing to work in a specific region with other students in the same country to assist with job seeking. The service can also offer professional development access to our alumni network, online careers support and employer links.