Short Course

Mad People’s History and Identity

Mad Peoples History and Identity is a free six week Mad Studies short course by, about and for people with lived experience of mental health issues. 

The course is a collaboration between QMU, CAPS Independent Advocacy (CAPS) and NHS Lothian’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Programme. It has grown from an innovative community history project “Oor Mad History” based at CAPS and it has been inspired by a course called “Mad People’s History” at Ryerson University, Toronto.


Mad People’s History and Identity: The course in brief

What will I learn on the course?

The course aims to:

  • place the experiences, narratives and views of people with mental health issues at the centre, rather than the edges of the curriculum
    Encourage learners to see themselves and others as “experts by experience”;
  • encourage learners to see their own experience in a wider context;
  • invite learners to think critically about mental health and the mental health system; and
  • invite learners to relate their experiences to relevant theories


Students will be awarded 20 credits at SCQF level 7 (first year degree level) which can go towards further study on completion of the assignment. There will be a chance to discuss pathways into further education, activism, advocacy or you can study the course out of interest as a one-off.

Find out more about our MSc Mad Studies

How will I be taught?

How is the course delivered?

The course will be delivered at the QMU campus. There is not an online option for this course.

There will be approximately 8-12 students on the course. 

What equipment will I need?

You will require access to the internet and basic IT skills

Who will be teaching me?

The course team is made up of people with lived experience of mental health issues who are scholars and activists as well as academics from QMU.

Mad People’s History and Identity: Entry requirements, fees and application information

Entry requirements

There are no formal entrance qualifications for this course, but you must demonstrate that you will benefit from participating.

You will be studying at Level 7 of Scottish Higher Education (first year degree level).

You must have personal experience of mental health issues.

We expect that participants will bring a wealth of experience that will contribute to the course.

We expect that you will do your best to attend all 6 sessions, contribute and complete the course.

Fees (and free places)

The course is free. It is funded by NHS Lothian’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Programme.


If you would like to apply for this course, please contact Dr Elaine Ballantyne who will forward an application form. The application form will include a request for an email/letter of recommendation from someone who has supported you with your mental health issues. This is to ensure that the course will be a positive experience for you.

The course team will select students for the course based on your application form and letter of recommendation. You will be informed by email if you have a place on this course. Depending on the number of applicants you may be placed on a waiting list and offered a place on next year’s course.

Application deadline

Closing date for applications is TBC. 


Start date

Start Date: April 2023. Contact Dr Elaine Ballantyne for information on the next start date. 

More information and QMU contacts

For further information, including application process, please contact Dr Elaine Ballantyne .

Student quotes

"One of the positives is that I am now studying here at QMU. I never thought that would happen. It wasn’t until it was stated you could use the credits to study and do it part-time. I had never thought about doing it part-time. I am now in my second year full-time and absolutely loving it, especially doing public sociology that marries with Mad Studies quite nicely"
"I felt locked outside of education all my life because of poverty, parental control or other circumstances. It has been very rewarding to be included finally in my fifties."
"I feel privileged to have experienced this course, as I know there are no such courses elsewhere in the UK."
"I have never come across a course that makes you an expert by your own experience."


"Life changing, inspirational course."
"I have struggled to leave my safe small enclosure in life... I feel a sense of accomplishment and confidence to undertake new things."
"The course had a really positive impact on my life... that I can study. Having mental health issues doesn’t mean that I don’t have the right to go to university."
"Most of all I have enjoyed the sense of community in the class and the fact that our lived experience is valued."

View the full range of our Arts, Social Sciences and Management short courses.

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Course Overview

On campus
6 weeks
Start Date
April 2023