Accessibility in the Psychology Undergraduate Curriculum



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Accessibility in the Psychology Undergraduate Curriculum


A guide for Psychology undergraduates at Cardiff University
This document outlines components of the BSc and BSc with Professional Placement degree programmes, identifies some of the challenges that might be faced by students with various disabilities or personal circumstances in enrolling on and completing these undergraduate degree programmes, and describes practices that have been adopted by the School to make the programmes inclusive. Some topics are discussed in more detail than others.
Comments on this document can be sent to Todd Bailey (BaileyTM1@Cardiff.ac.uk) or Judy McPherson (McPherson@Cardiff.ac.uk).

Table of Contents


  1. Statutory duties regarding disability

  2. School procedures for students with a disability

  3. Admissions and enrolment processes

  4. Accommodation

  5. Curriculum

    1. Orientation (Year 1)

    2. Reading

    3. Academic tutorials (Years 1-2)

    4. Lectures

    5. Research practicals (Years 1-2)

    6. Computing practicals/demonstrations (Years 1-2)

    7. Research participation (Years 1-2)

    8. Professional placement (optional Year 3)

    9. Project supervision (Final Year)

    10. Course-specific software

    11. Indicative calendar and timetables

  6. Assessment and feedback

    1. Coursework

    2. Research project (Final Year)

    3. Examinations

    4. Extenuating circumstances


This document can be made available in the following alternative formats: Braille, tape, large print, disc and on coloured paper. Please contact Judy McPherson (McPherson@Cardiff.ac.uk), School Administrator, Room 6.02 to request a copy in your chosen format.


1. Statutory duties regarding disability


Higher education institutions are bound by a number of statutory duties regarding disability. In summary, higher education institutions are required:

  • not to treat disabled people less favourably,

  • to make reasonable adjustments so disabled people are not substantially disadvantaged as a result of their disability, and

  • to anticipate the needs of disabled people and make adjustments in advance.

A person is considered disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. This includes impairments of vision or hearing, mental health difficulties, specific learning difficulties (e.g. dyslexia or dyspraxia), various physical conditions (e.g. paraplegia, cerebral palsy, repetitive strain injury, arthritis, ME), hidden disabilities (e.g. epilepsy, diabetes, asthma), and long-term medical conditions (e.g. cancer, HIV).


Academic standards, flexibility, and transparency. The content of the undergraduate psychology curriculum is highly constrained by accreditation requirements set by the British Psychological Society. Within that framework, our teaching, learning and assessment philosophy emphasizes the role of the learner, who is expected to access information in published books and journal articles, and be able to express topic-related ideas and arguments clearly.
Ultimately, it is the learning experience and qualification embodied by the degree programme which must be accessible. The formal parts of the curriculum are intended to assist the learner in various ways, but they are generally not ends (or requirements) in and of themselves. Where standard learning opportunities and assessments cannot be made fully accessible in a generic way, alternatives are considered on a case by case basis.

2. School procedures for students with a disability


This section discusses the procedures and decision-making processes within the School for working with disabled students.

2.1. Procedures for communication about disabled students’ needs


Incoming students often declare a disability on their UCAS university application form. Other students declare a disability after beginning their undergraduate course (e.g. a student may discuss a hidden disability with his/her personal tutor and decide to declare the disability so that appropriate adjustments can be made). The School’s Disability Contacts liaise with the Dyslexia and Disability Service to track disabled students and agree on appropriate adjustments.
The School itself contacts all students over the summer with details about enrolment, along with an invitation for students to declare a disability if they have not already done so, and a request for incoming Year 1 students to notify the School if they anticipate difficulty using an ordinary computer so that appropriate adjustments can be made prior to induction.
Shortly before the start of each autumn semester Student Services sends the School a list of disabled students who are likely to enrol. After enrolment, students are assigned to personal tutors (with returning students generally being assigned to the same tutor they had the year before). The list of disabled students is matched up with the list of personal tutors, and personal tutors are notified of any disabilities their students have declared (subject, as always, to the student having given permission for us to share information about his/her disability on a need to know basis). Because the beginning of the academic year is very busy, personal tutors may not receive this information until the second or third week of the semester. Tutors and students should be aware that they are likely to have their first meeting before tutors have received top-down information about disabled students.
Student Services carries out a needs assessment for each disabled student (sometime during the academic year), and sends the School an Individual Support Arrangements Notification (ISAN). The Disability Contact then consults with appropriate members of the School (e.g. the Chair of the Board of Studies, the School’s Teaching & Learning Officer, etc.), the Disability and Dyslexia Service, and the student, as necessary to agree on appropriate arrangements the School can implement. Staff members within the School (tutors, lecturers, markers, etc.) are then advised, on a need-to-know basis, how they can help. A needs assessment may recommend flagging a particular student’s work for markers to identify the work as being from a student with disability-related writing difficulties. As explained below under Assessment, flagging is not applied to coursework in the School, but is applied where appropriate to exam scripts by the student him/herself before the scripts are passed to the School for marking.

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