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.

    Introduction to Politics (Recommended for single and combined honours)
    The module aims to introduce students to politics and the study of politics through an investigation of political behaviour (processes of political socialisation, the nature of political culture and the ways in which individuals participate in a democratic society) and the role of ideas and ideologies in informing individual and collective behaviour.

    Politics in Comparative Perspective (Recommended for single and combined honours)
    The module provides an introduction to comparative politics and specifically the ways in which we can understand varieties of political systems and institutions in the contemporary world. The module gives students the opportunity to develop their knowledge of the functioning of democratic and authoritarian regime types, underpinned by case studies from a wide range of states.

    Introduction to International Relations 1: Perspectives (Recommended for single and combined honours)
    This module provides an introduction to International Relations, with a focus on history, theories and perspectives. As an academic discipline, International Relations has emerged from a particular (cultural and historic) set of perspectives and concerns and this module will aim to introduce you to the defining debates of the discipline in this context via following the different interpretations of selected historical events. But, as a discipline that seeks to inform and is informed by global politics 'in practice' - and all the debates around this (ranging from what counts as important if we seek to better understand our world to what is possible if there are aspects of it we would like to change) - it is also a discipline that is regularly subject to challenges from within the world of academia and without. One such challenge, which will be discussed throughout the module, can be found in the charge that International Relations is a 'Western' discipline that leaves out the experience and history of people outside of the Western world. Focusing on this and other challenges, this module will seek to introduce International Relations or global politics more broadly as a realm of contestation - as a field of competing perspectives and stories about our world and what is possible within it.

    Introduction to International Relations 2: Themes and Issues (Recommended for single and combined honours)
    This module provides an introduction to the subject of International Relations building on U23201. The module examines some of the key themes and issues in contemporary world politics. The module is divided into two parts. Part One introduces the actors, structures and processes of world politics, outlining some of the core themes such as the international system of states and international society, transnational and global society, the global political economy, international organisations, institutions and transnational actors. It further analyses concepts such as anarchy, order, sovereignty, conflict and co-operation among states and non-state actors and contextualises this conceptual material theoretically. Part Two then goes on to examine a number of immediate and chronic issues in world politics to demonstrate a) how they are managed and b) what they tell us about the nature of governance in the international system. These issues include: gender; migration; human rights and humanitarian intervention; energy resources and the environment; and development, inequality and poverty.

    Foundations of Social Psychology (Recommended for single and combined honours)
    This module provides an introduction to some key areas in social psychology with an emphasis on the different manifestations of `social context'.

     

     

    Social Research Methods (compulsory for single and combined honours)
    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.

    Gender and Society (alternative compulsory for single and combined honours)
    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 (alternative compulsory for single and combined honours)
    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 (alternative compulsory for single and combined honours)
    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 (alternative compulsory for single and combined honours)
    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.

    Sociology of Health and Illness (alternative compulsory for single and combined honours)
    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 (alternative compulsory for single and combined honours)
    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.

    State and Society in Europe (acceptable for single and combined honours)
    This module offers an exploration into the social and political foundations of European states and societies. It looks at the processes of nation - and state-building and the relationship between the state, market and society, consolidation of European models of capitalism and the construction of European approaches to citizenship. The future of European states and societies and their ability to respond to contemporary social and political challenges is evaluated through a historical and comparative perspective.

    Work-based Learning in Sociology (acceptable for single and combined honours)
    This module offers students the opportunity to build on the skills and knowledge gained in the Sociology Level 4 modules in order to undertake a placement with organisations that are engaged in areas relevant to the study of Sociology. Students will be able to evaluate and reflect critically upon this experience in a module that links theory and practice in Sociology in a professional context and to analyse the link with recent policy developments. The content of the module is negotiated between the student and the work placement provider and must be approved by the module leader in advance of the commencement of the placement.

    The Social World of Childhood and Youth (acceptable for single and combined honours)
    An introduction to the social world of childhood through the study of changing conceptions of childhood. This is extended to consider the implications of different models of socialisation and to review structural, cultural and experiential factors in the development of child identity. A strong feature of the module is its use of life and history material.

    Educational Inequalities (acceptable for single and combined honours)
    This module aims to investigate the relationship between formal education processes and structures and wider social and educational outcomes. It considers contesting visions of equality in educational debates, and how these are manifested in policy. It will examine the relationships between schools and wider cultures, and between learner identity and consequent experiences of education. In particular the module will focus on the role of gender, cultural identity and social class in education and aims to question whether these factors can be considered separately. The module draws on a sociological perspective to illuminate students' understanding of education and the context in which it takes place. Although the main focus of the module is on educational inequalities in England and policy measures which have addressed or heightened these, it also aims to encourage students to engage with fundamental questions concerning the role of education in other cultural contexts.

    The Sociology of Emotions (honours component single and combined)
    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.

    Theorising Society (honours component single and combined)
    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 European Union: Integration and Disintegration (honours component single and combined)
    By adopting a sociological lens to the study of the EU, this module will overview different perspectives that are topical for understanding the process of European integration. It seeks to develop students' understanding of the social, political and cultural dimensions of the European project and the debates associated with these. More specifically, it explores the impact of Europeanization by looking at both top-down and bottom-up perspectives. It uncovers the complexities of social, political and cultural dynamics that determine the boundaries of the European project. The module will assess the social and political framework underpinning the development of the Europeanization process thus raising important questions about the overall aims of the EU vis-a-vis its member states but more importantly towards its citizens. By overviewing factors of disintegration - besides of integration - the module will evaluate the current state of Europeanization, and in particular the impact of various crises (democratic, financial, cultural) on its development.

    The Theory and Practice of Human Rights (honours component single and combined)
    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 single and combined)
    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 single and combined)
    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 single and combined)
    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. 

    Independent Study in Sociology (honours component single and combined)
    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  (honours component single and combined)
    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 (honours component combined only)
    This module provides the opportunity for independent research under supervision. Students choose a dissertation topic combining the knowledge and disciplinary skills of two subjects of study. Interdisciplinary Dissertation students may have one supervisor from each subject. 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.