Module descriptions for Sociology

  • As courses are reviewed regularly the module list you choose from may vary from that shown here.

  • Social Differences and Divisions (compulsory for single and combined honours)

    This course is designed to provide students with an introductory knowledge of Sociology and the different ways in which sociological analysis makes sense of the social world. Key concepts and approaches in Sociology will be introduced through a focus on the relationship between individuals, groups and social institutions. Core areas of sociological analysis, including gender relations, class divisions, and ‘race’ and ethnicity will be considered in light of contemporary sociological debates. Students are encouraged to develop an awareness of the social world through an appreciation of social context, the nature of social processes and of diversity and inequality.

    Foundations of Social Theory (compulsory for single and combined honours)

    This module offers a general introduction to the principle themes and concerns of social theory, starting with the works of classical sociological theorists Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber. It considers how their work has shaped the discipline of sociology, as well as different sociological traditions. The module also explores a number of contemporary developments, debates and approaches in social theory, and considers their contributions to understanding social relations today.

    Researching the Social World  (compulsory for single and combined honours)

    This module provides students with an introduction to a range of investigative research strategies in order to appreciate how the social world can be researched.  Its major components include an introduction to research design, ethics in social research, strength and limitations of different research approaches and methodological issues in data collection, analysis and dissemination. On completion of this module, students will have gained a firm grounding in the principles of research design and the methodological issues associated with different types of research. This will enable students to critically engage with and assess published research – a key dimension in much academic and related work - and to understand the principles of primary data collection.

    Contemporary Societies: Structure and Change (compulsory for single honours, recommended for combined honours)

    This module provides an overview of a range of social and political developments shaping contemporary societies. It looks at the relationship between the economy, the state and society, and considers how labour markets and welfare states have transformed over time. It also explores questions relating to power and politics, and looks at different political systems and processes. Additional topics considered in the module include international migration patterns, the formation of ethnic minorities, the role of religion in modern society, and challenges posed by global environmental changes. Students are encouraged to develop an awareness of a range of social issues and developments and the global context in which they take place, whilst also appreciating the implications for different individuals and groups.


    Gender and Society

    This module provides an opportunity to put gender at the centre of social analysis. An understanding of the social processes that shape women’s and men’s lives in contemporary societies will be developed by exploring a range of theoretical approaches. The centrality of gender in everyday life will be highlighted as will the ways in which gender relations are reflected and reproduced in social institutions. Gender relations are also analysed in the context of ‘globalisation’.

    Culture and Everyday Life

    This module explores different aspects of culture by integrating theoretical and empirical analysis of specific issues including matters of taste, cultural classification, media, the fashion system, subcultures, bodily culture, and food practices. It aims to demonstrate the significance of these cultural issues in various sociological processes including globalisation, group formation, resistance and exclusion. The module addresses contemporary case studies, including examples from British popular culture, to discuss the usefulness of the theories and concepts covered in the lectures.

    Race, Ethnicity and Inequality

    Explores the concepts of ‘race’, ethnicity and racism by integrating a theoretical analysis with specific issues, including education, employment, housing, migration, policing, and the impact of anti-discrimination legislation. It introduces students to contemporary debates on ‘race’, ethnicity and racism, and examines the position and experience of different minority ethnic groups, and some of the processes that lead to the exclusion of some minority ethnic groups from mainstream social life. Although the focus is on the UK context, a cross-cultural comparative perspective will be employed in order to highlight the complexities of the social constructions of ‘race’ and ethnicity, and the related social inequalities.

    Global Sociology

    This module explores the origins, nature and consequences of global social change. The tensions between the global and the local will be examined as they relate to economic, political and cultural processes in contemporary societies. Competing explanations of the impact and significance of global change will be explored.

    The Sociology of Emotions (honours component)

    This module equips students with a sound understanding and knowledge of a range of investigative strategies and associated methodological issues in social research and how the social world is researched. Its major components include an introduction to research design, ethics in social research, strength and limitations of different research approaches and methodological issues in data collection, analysis and dissemination. On completion of this module, students will have gained a firm grounding in the principles of research design, data collection and data analysis. This will enable students to critically engage with and assess published research - a key dimension in much academic and related work - and to understand the principles of primary data collection.

    Sociology of Health and Illness 

    Students will be introduced to some of the key contemporary debates within sociology of health and illness. The module will provide opportunities to explore the parameters of the sociology of health and illness through a focus on theoretical perspectives and empirical material. Module themes will focus on medical ‘knowledge’ and lay perspectives, concepts of lifestyles and risk, the centrality of the body to contemporary debates and the medicalisation of everyday life, death and dying. The material and gendered circumstances in which different lives are lived and intersected by social class, culture, ‘race’ and age will provide an important backdrop to the module.

    The Sociology of Work

    This module aims to introduce students to a sociological perspective on emotions. This is different from the assumption that feelings are 'natural', 'inwardly located' and mostly 'private' experiences, and presents how social researchers think of them as socially constructed and/or socially constituting. We examine why sociologists have largely neglected emotions and what a sociological approach can bring to our understanding of them. This will enable us to explore how the sociology of emotions can challenge some of sociology's key premises and ways of thinking and to critically analyse debates about the changing role of emotions in social life. Students will gain an understanding of how the contemporary social environment helps shape emotions and how emotions can be used to create change in the social world.

    Theorising Society (honours component)

    Exploring central problems of social theorising, the module introduces and analyses key perspectives, concepts and debates in both classical and contemporary sociological theory. It aims to locate the central concepts and theories intellectually and socially, and consider their relevance for and relationship to everyday life.

    The Theory and Practice of Human Rights (honours component)

    Students are offered the opportunity to develop both a comprehensive understanding of theoretical debates on human rights and an awareness of the myriad practices, actors, institutions, and issues surrounding the concept of human rights, and from a broad range of perspectives within the social sciences. It aims to provide students with an understanding of the ways in which social scientific approaches and methods can be brought to bear on an understanding of the role of human rights in the world. It will also provide a basis for exploring a number of selected human rights issues in depth, including refugee rights, indigenous peoples’ rights, and genocide.

    Racialised Identities in Super-Diverse Societies (honours component)

    This module aims to provide an in depth understanding of identities and difference in contemporary western societies. The module interrogates postcolonial theories of the Self and Otherness by assessing their relevance for understanding the complexity of difference in multicultural and super-diverse societies. It explores how racial identities are shaped and experienced at the everyday level in combination with other markers of social difference (such as, gender, class and age).  

    Sociology of Migration (honours component)

    This module explores the social, economic and cultural processes involved in international migration. It looks at global patterns of migration, whilst considering the different ways in which migration has been studied and theorised. Students are introduced to a number of key concepts and debates in contemporary migration research, as well as a range of empirical examples. They are encouraged to develop an understanding of different kinds of migration, whilst appreciating the limits and problems of some established categories, including “undocumented migration”, and the distinction between “economic” and “forced” migration. The module considers international migration in relation to sending as well as receiving country contexts, and in terms of its relationship to development, economic and socio-cultural transformations, and migration policy.

    Gendering Intimate Relations (honours component)

    This module explores the sociology of contemporary intimate life, with a particular focus on gender, identities, relationships, family lives and shifting intimate/household arrangements. Societal transformations have changed possibilities in relation to how individual and family lives are lived and understood in the intimate sphere, but tensions and apparent contradictions also configure the ways in which ‘appropriate’ and gendered behaviours are (discursively) regarded. These include societal ideals, made more immediate through digital technologies, which can powerfully reinforce ideas of essentialism and ‘normalcy’, especially in relation to attractiveness, reproductive bodies, caring practices and ageing. Thus practices of femininities and masculinities in contemporary society are subject to increased (self) scrutiny and broader surveillance in contexts which can be difficult to negotiate and are morally inflected. This module will take a life-course approach enabling students to understand, analyse and theorise the interplay of these topical, complex and diverse aspects of the contemporary intimate sphere. 

    The Political Sociology of Crime and Disorder (Politics, honours component)

    This module will explore contemporary issues in the politics and sociology of crime, disorder and control. This will include an overview of some of the key theories and theorists and current practices of crime and social order. The aim of the module is to provide students with an understanding of the key debates and issues in relation to crime and disorder, the sociological analysis and understanding of these issues and an opportunity to explore the politics of crime, disorder and social control.

    Independent Study in Sociology (honours component)

    A programme of self-directed sociological study devised by the student and conducted under the supervision of, and with the prior approval of, sociology staff. The module provides an opportunity for students to undertake a study of their own choosing that would not otherwise be available to them.

    Sociology Dissertation or Interdisciplinary Dissertation (honours component)

    This module provides the opportunity for independent research under supervision. Although students are encouraged to employ the research skills they acquire from the research methods modules, it is not a formal requirement that students have to conduct primary data collection for their dissertations.
    Interdisciplinary Dissertation students choose a dissertation topic combining the knowledge and disciplinary skills of two fields of study and will have two supervisors, one from each field.

    Social Research Methods (compulsory for degree/honours degree/Dip HE)

    This module builds on the knowledge students acquired in the module Researching the Social World. It aims to help students develop practical skills in social research, including the design and administration of questionnaires and interviews, sample recruitment, data entry, analysis and interpretation and the presentation of research findings.