PP0555 - MAD Studies

What will I learn on this module?

This module invites you to explore the concept of ‘madness’ with a consideration of ‘mental health’, ‘distress’ and ‘wellbeing’ through the perspectives of mental health service users and/or ‘survivors’. The survivors’ movement reject biological and genetic explanations of their mental health, they celebrate their difference and challenge the legal constraints placed upon them. In essence this is a political alignment within both the ‘anti psychiatry’ and ‘holistic’ movements in the UK and internationally. This module will therefore introduce you to the principle theorists Foucault, Laing, Beresford and LeFrancois. In addition the contested importance of mental health ‘recovery’ in current mental health provision will be explored along with critical challenges to diagnosis, treatment and potential stigma. Recovery refers to the affirming process of discovering (or rediscovering) a positive sense of self and accepting and coping with the reality of any ongoing mental health distress. This in turn includes a critic of the biological determinism often associated with any mental health pathology. The module will take a historical perspective to the field of madness including topics of architecture and art as well as the early interpretations and treatments. Intersectionality will also be considered through the relative influences of gender, ethnicity, class and sexual orientation providing a fuller understanding of how these effect the mad narrative.

How will I learn on this module?

There will be a programme of structured lectures and follow up seminars in this module which will accommodate your learning style. Self-directed reading and learning activities will form an important aspect of study on the module. A range of electronic and interactive resources will be available on the Electronic Learning Portal (eLP). Reflecting on your own beliefs, attitudes and values and discussing your insights with peers and tutors will be a central feature of this options module, especially as the module examines contrasting ideologies, approaches and theoretical perspectives relating to mental health. Teaching and learning in this module will include an eclectic mix of strategies to ensure you have a wide variety of experience. A combination of lectures, seminar and tutorial methodologies will provide theoretical, narrative and historical material from which to build discussion and debate. Opportunities to share and explore ideas in more applied contexts will come from the co-delivery and consultation with mental health service user/survivors. The work you undertake will take a ‘research rich’ learning approach, which encourages you to become an active inquirer and participant in your own understanding of mental health and give you confidence to challenge stereotypical views. You will use the ELP, including provision of a range of links to electronic, multimedia resources. Discussion boards will be used as a regular strategy in exploring issues raised either through class based discussion, media or core resources.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Tutors will support your learning through a variety of ways on this options module. They will provide a programme of lectures which relate to the learning outcomes for the module; these lectures will make connections between theory, policy and practice, as you also will be expected to do. Additionally, you will have opportunities to work in small groups where you will can reflect on and discuss lecture content and any insights gained. Contact details for all tutors for this module are available in the module handbook and via the eLP.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Critically reflect on the terminology referred to around madness, distress and mental wellbeing.

2. Appreciate the narrative and historical legacy of the treatment of madness.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. Appraise the impact of mental health policy on service users and survivors.

4. Contrast what constitutes the different perspectives of madness in terms of medical and social constructs.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. Compare and analyse different cultural identities associated with madness

How will I be assessed?

Summative assessment will be to complete a co-produced poster with a 500 word supporting caption. The student will be expected to work alongside mental health service users (risk assessment completed) to produce work on critical mental health theory. This would include reference to key critical terminology, the historical legacy of treatment and any relevance to the service users/survivors movement. They would be expects to be able to contrast different perspectives of mental health in terms of medical and social constructions.

In practice this would take the form of a poster (electronic/paper) however other artistic mediums including video media item or artefact (e.g., image(s), sculpture, creative writing [e.g. poem]) could be used

For a video presentation it would be expected to be 10 to 15 minutes long. Formative support will be offered in class and through Chilli Studios a mental health arts drop in centre in Newcastle (https://www.chillistudios.co.uk/)

See MLOs 1,2, 3, 4 and 5. The student will receive feedback on the summative assessment via written comments on the assessed work, highlighting strengths and weaknesses and indicating pathways to the further development of knowledge and skills. Areas of concern will be linked to positive advice on how to address issues.





Module abstract

Mad Studies is a brand new academic discipline which has emerged from the diverse fields of critical disability studies, anti-psychiatry, survivor movement, activism and key social theorists. This module is one of the first in the UK, inviting students to examine the concept of madness through the perspectives of mental health service users and psychiatric survivors.

The module equips students with a cutting edge critical appreciation of research around the meaning of madness within contemporary society, with a particular focus on how power and stigma are created and exercised. It provides opportunities for feedback in both sharing and exploring these ideas in more details alongside mental health service users and psychiatric survivors. Students will use the internet, art and other mediums to both explore challenges and celebrate difference in the field. This experience will provide a strong base for those who wish to work in the field of mental health.

Course info

UCAS Code B9L5

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing

Location Coach Lane Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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