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. 

It is delivered at QMU on campus and is a collaboration between Queen Margaret University (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.

About 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
· Invite learners to relate their experiences to relevant theories

Find out more about our MSc Mad Studies

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
· You will require access to the internet and basic IT skills

Key details

Outcomes: 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.

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

Location/Delivery: At Queen Margaret University campus. There is not an online option for this course.

Course Tutors: 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.

Fees: Free. The course is funded by NHS Lothian’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Programme.

Class sizes: There will be approximately 8-12 students on the course 

Application process: 

  • Applicants will contact Dr Elaine Ballantyne who will forward an application form ( The application form will include a request for an e-mail/letter of recommendation from someone who has supported you with your mental health issues. This is to ensuret hat the course will be a positive experience for you.
  • Closing date for applications is TBC. 
  • The course team will select students for the programme based on your application form and letter of recommendation.
  • You will be informed by e-mail 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.

Further information

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."

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Course Overview

Online and in person
3 Months
Start Date
January 2023
Study Abroad
Fees & Funding