Sociology

The following modules are available to incoming Study Abroad students interested in Sociology.

Alternatively you may return to the complete list of Study Abroad Subject Areas.

GWS.101: Introduction to Gender and Women's Studies

  • Terms Taught: Full Year course.
  • Also Available:
    • Michaelmas Term only.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only.
    • NOTE:  If you are studying with us for a Full Academic Year and you select a course that has full year and part year variants, you will not be allowed to take only part of the course.
  • US Credits:
    • Full Year course - 10 Semester Credits
    • Michaelmas Term only - 4 Semester Credits
    • Lent / Summer Terms only- 6 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year course - 20 ECTS Credits.
    • Michaelmas Term only - 8 ECTS Credits
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 12 ECTS Credits

Course Description

Have you ever wondered why women in Britain are paid, on average, 13% less than men? Why women's bodies are used in advertising? Do you think that class is a women's issue? Is being white simply about skin colour? Does the Law treat men and women in the same way? Are these questions relevant to the world we inhabit? This course explores such questions.

Educational Aims

This course aims to develop an understanding of a range of perspectives central to Gender Women's Studies, introducing students to some of the disciplines, main theoretical concepts, and most recent research involved in the field.

The course is divided into five main sections:

  • gender and social institutions;
  • women's movements;
  • cultural representations of gender;
  • identity and difference;
  • making bodies.

Students are encouraged to discuss these themes, drawing on their own experiences, as well as on reading.

Outline Syllabus

This course introduces some of the central concepts and issues in Women's Studies. We examine the history of Women's Studies as a discipline, and its relation to different kinds of feminist theories, focusing on the two themes of 'women, power and resistance', and 'women and difference'.

Particular areas covered include:

  • the social organisation of gender relations,
  • the cultural representation of gender,
  • constructions of gender identities,
  • and women and political organisations.

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 60%
  • Exam: 40%

MCS.101: Introduction to Media and Cultural Studies

  • Terms Taught: Full Year course.
  • Also Available:
    • Michaelmas Term only.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only.
    • NOTE:  If you are studying with us for a Full Academic Year and you select a course that has full year and part year variants, you will not be allowed to take only part of the course.
  • US Credits:
    • Full Year course - 10 Semester Credits
    • Michaelmas Term only - 4 Semester Credits
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 6 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year course - 20 ECTS Credits
    • Michaelmas Term only - 8 ECTS Credits
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 12 ECTS Credits

Course Description

You will consider competing definitions of the terms ‘culture’ and ‘media’, engage with a wide range of academic writings on culture and media, and analyse a diverse range of cultural material from different media: television, films, photography, newspapers and magazines, video games and the world wide web. You will explore the ways in which our identities, aspirations, beliefs and value systems are shaped by the cultural environment in which we live.

Educational Aims

Specific aims include enabling students to:

  • Be able to identify and explore a range of theoretical approaches to the study of culture, media and communication
  • Employ key theoretical and critical approaches in the analysis of various media texts, particularly visual and popular cultural texts
  • Develop analytical and critical skills in relation to theoretical texts and media texts and practices
  • Develop understanding of the audio, visual and verbal conventions through which sounds, images and words make meaning
  • Develop understanding of the ways in which people engage with cultural texts and practices and make meaning from them
  • Develop understanding of the narrative processes, generic forms and modes of representation at work in media and cultural texts
  • Develop an understanding of the material conditions of media and cultural consumption, and of the cultural contexts in which people appropriate, use and make sense of media and cultural products
  • Develop an awareness of how media products might be understood within broader concepts of culture.
  • Have a critical appreciation of the complexity of the terms culture and media
  • Understand the ways in which identities are constructed and contested through engagements with culture
  • Understand how social divisions play key roles in modes of representation in media texts
  • Have opportunities for the development of a range of transferable skills that include: working as a member of a team; written and oral communication skills; and foundation skills in Audio visual and ICT technique
  • Develop a range of independent research skills, presentation skills and organisational/time management skills

Outline Syllabus

Blocks will present and examine themes such as (indicative content):

  • key perspectives in Media and Cultural Studies (definitions, concepts, themes, examples)
  • popular and everyday cultures
  • visual culture
  • mediation and technology (from mass to digital media)
  • representation, ideology and politics
  • consumer culture
  • resistant cultures and subcultures
  • media audiences
  • embodied cultures
  • fashion and style

In these blocks, students will be introduced to the complex relations between cultural forms and practices, media technologies and constructions of class, gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity, national identity, and age. Students will look at how culture is a domain of contestation and the ways in which media are bound up with asymmetrical forms of power. As part of the programme, students will undertake a group project with the guidance of their seminar tutor, exploring a topic covered on the course involving the production of a cultural artefact (poster, website, photographic collage/album, film etc.).

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 60%
  • Exam: 40%

MCS.204: Viral Video Production

  • Terms Taught: Lent term only
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Two semesters of sociology.

Course Description

Want to ‘go viral’? In this module we will make stuff: tweets, blogs, videos, GIFs, wikis, music mash-ups, photo essays, machinima, memes. We will hang out in social media worlds such as Your Meme and tumblr. We will learn to tie all of these media and platforms together into a viral video and social media campaign. We will become digitally literate; while learning how to make most types of simple digital media, you will also be taught how to make most types of simple digital media. You will develop a portfolio of content that may assist you in entrepreneurial work in the new media industries, and most importantly you will understand how new media is challenging existing forms of culture, politics, law, and business.

Educational Aims

Students will learn how to make an internet video and conduct a social media campaign to promote it. This will provide students with opportunities to have first hand experience using the tools and platforms (YouTube,Twitter, etc.) theorized in the module readings. This type of mental and physical training will prepare students for critical practice in the media industries.

Students will learn critical thinking, collaborative working skills, project planning, search and research capacities, and the integration of theory and practice.

Outline Syllabus

This module will combine theory and practice and will address the major attributes of present internet-based participatory culture. These elements include the following.

  • Video: Students will be introduced to the basics of internet video production, theory, and industry
  • Mash-ups: Student will learn about remix culture, its legalities, including intellectual property rights issues, and alternative licencing agreements such as Creative Commons while producing a mash-up video or sound collage
  • Gifs: Student will investigate the culture of Gifs, and internet memes, learning about how the internet facilitates the production of rapidly scalable "viral media." To learn these facets of participatory culture they will produce a Gif and upload it to a number of online video platforms.
  • Montage: Extending their earlier study of mash-up culture, while exploring the history of montage in film studies, students will read key texts in the theory of montage from Russian formalism, cut-up culture, to DJ culture, to conclude this teaching students will produce a mash-up inclusive of the theories from montage
  • Virality: The theory of virality has much cultural purchase in digital culture. Students will be exposed to new theories to explain the scalability made possible by the decentralized internet. They will be asked to produce a social media campaign that responds to the theories of virality.
  • Platforms: The term platform is use to describe both the economic and political possibilities of social media "platforms." Students will explore the various theorized notions of 'platforms' while investigating what these various options and ways of imagining social media can provide them as politically active and creatively focused media producers.
  • Social Media: All forms or communication are inherently social, so what makes the present iteration of media social. With a socio-technical focus on the affordances or design ideologies of the internet what makes the present manifestation of social media distinct? How can these affordances be exploited?
  • Affordance: A term that has developed quite the mystique, affordances is the way scholars and practitioners discuss what is possible with social media today. For students hoping to go into social media marketing or social media based activism consciousness of affordances is necessary. This lesson will introduce to students this concept and invite them to invent an optimal assortment of affordances for a design project.
  • Monetization and Professionalization: While the theory of participatory culture has celebrated the arrival of amateur production, the emerging trends recognize the development of professionisation and new career opportunities from the once-amateur participatory culture. This session will investigate the consequences of the emergence of new forms professionalization and monetization.
  • Free Speech, Network Activism, and Intellectual Property Rights: Finally, this module will continue themes throughout the course to ascertain the future of free speech online and what role the students want for themselves as producers of media in the internet age. Will it be an age of big business or people politics?

Assessment Proportions

Coursework: 100%

MCS.210: Virtual Cultures

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Terms only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Two semesters of sociology.

Course Description

This course explores the question of how information and communications technologies, in their multiple forms, figure in our everyday lives. The aim of the course is to develop an appreciation of the range of experiences affected by digital media, including the progressive expansion of life online and the increasingly intimate relations between life online and offline. We’ll explore global divisions of digital labour; the rise of the military entertainment complex; e-waste; social media, social movements and hactivism. The course will consider the new possibilities that the changing social infrastructure of digital technologies afford, while also learning to look at the rhetoric and practices of the ‘network society’ with a questioning and critical eye. Throughout the course we’ll be attentive to issues of gender, race and other marks of ‘sameness and difference’ as they operate among humans, and between humans and machines.

Educational Aims

This course aims to give students:

  • a better understanding of sociological analysis of information cultures and on-line sociality
  • familiarity with key theoretical debates on cybercultures
  • improved skills in reading and applying various theoretical approaches to information cultures
  • improved skills and confidence in contributing effectively and positively in academic debate.

Outline Syllabus

The course has four parts: introduction, identities, communities and transnational contextualising. These themes will introduce you to some key debates on information cultures in Western societies.

  • Introduction (weeks 1-3): The first three weeks will be dedicated to looking at the history and the development of concepts such as cyberspace, cyberbody, virtuality and life on-line.
  • Identities (weeks 4-6): The next three lectures will look at the ways gender, race, ethnicity and sexuality are constituted on-line.
  • Communities (weeks 7-8): These two lectures will look at the ways a sense of community can be created, negotiated, disrupted or ruined in various forms of on-line interaction.
  • Transnational contextualising (weeks 9-10): The last two weeks will contextualise internet cultures in a transnational perspective.

Assessment Proportions

  • Dissertation: 80%
  • Written Assessment: 20%

or

  • Coursework: 50%
  • Exam: 30%
  • Written Assessment: 20%

MCS.224: Media and Visual Culture

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Two semesters of sociology.

Course Description

Everyday life is often described as bombarding us with images, and contemporary culture is therefore frequently understood as a visual culture. But what do such statements actually mean? How far is our culture a visual culture? What role does media play in a visual culture? How is vision linked to practices – including representation, the gaze and embodiment – of power and inequality? In what ways might these practices be challenged or resisted? Does vision only involve seeing, or is visual culture multi-sensory? This course will introduce theories and practices that have addressed these questions.

Educational Aims

The aim of this module is to introduce and examine recent and ongoing themes in Media and Cultural Studies and Sociology. It will provide students with an opportunity to:

  • compare and contrast competing and complementary critical perspectives on vision and visuality, media and culture;
  • to develop a sophisticated understanding of theories and practices of visual culture;
  • to express, discuss and debate complex ideas and abstractions in a confident and coherent manner;
  • to develop a sophisticated understanding of studies of visual culture.

Outline Syllabus

This module will cover topics including:

  • the relationship between vision and knowledge;
  • the gaze and power (eg the gaze as gendered and raced);
  • media, representation and identity;
  • technologies of vision;
  • material practices of vision;
  • vision as multi-sensory.

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 75%
  • Group montage: 25%

MCS.226: Gender and Media

  • Terms Taught: Full Year course.
  • Also Available:
    • Michaelmas Term only.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only
    • NOTE:  If you are studying with us for a Full Academic Year and you select a course that has full year and part year variants, you will not be allowed to take only part of the course.
  • US Credits:
    • Full Year course - 8 Semester Credits
    • Michaelmas Term only - 4 Semester Credits
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 4 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year course - 16 ECTS Credits
    • Michaelmas Term only - 8 ECTS Credits
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 8 ECTS Credits
  • Pre-requisites: Two semesters of sociology.

Course Description

The media is hugely influential in shaping, reflecting and challenging gender power relations. Feminist theories have been attentive to the ways in which our lives are mediated, suggesting that we construct and perform our identities in relation to media representations of gender, sexuality and the body. This module focuses on these issues, exploring some of the key cultural, social and political questions surrounding gender and sexuality. The course draws on key concepts in feminist theory, queer theory, body image, Marxist feminism, masculinity studies and feminist activism to explore how gender works across a wide range of media platforms. Specific media studied include film, advertising, fashion media and celebrity culture, politics, television genres such as reality television and soap opera, and gaming and digital media.

Educational Aims

This course gives a comprehensive introduction to debates about representations of gender in the media. Students will learn to use a range of feminist theoretical and methodological tools to think critically about changing representations of femininity, masculinity and trans identities in contemporary media, to explore changing representations of gender, and to explore the ways in which gendered representations intersect with discourses of class, race, age, ethnicity and disability. We will also ask whether feminist critique has changed the way men and women are represented in contemporary culture.

Specific aims include enabling students to:

  • be able to identify and explore a range of theoretical approaches to the study of gender, media and representation.
  • employ key theoretical and critical approaches in the analysis of various media texts, particularly visual and popular cultural texts, drawing on key debates in feminist theory, queer theory and media studies.
  • develop analytical and critical skills in relation to theoretical texts and media texts and practices
  • develop understanding of the audio, visual and verbal conventions through which sounds, images and words construct representations of gender and sexuality.
  • develop understanding of the ways in which people engage with cultural texts and practices and negotiate gendered and sexual identities in relation to the media.
  • develop understanding of the narrative processes, generic forms and modes of representation at work in media and cultural texts
  • develop an understanding of the material conditions of media and cultural consumption, and of the cultural contexts in which people appropriate, use and make sense of media and cultural products
  • develop an awareness of how media products might be understood within broader concepts of culture.
  • have a critical appreciation of the complexity of the terms ‘gender’ and ‘media’

Outline Syllabus

  • Block 1: Feminism, gender and the media
  • Block 2: Representing Femininities
  • Block 3: Masculinity, media and representation
  • Block 4: Figuring queer and trans subjects
  • Block 5: New media, gender activism and change

Assessment Proportions

  • Groupwork: 20%
  • Critical Media analysis 30%
  • EITHER a. 3000 word essay (50%) OR b. creative project (blog, vlog, zine, photo essay or art project) (25%) with 1500 word written commentary (25%),

MCS.303: Social Media and Activism

  • Terms Taught: Lent term only
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits
  • Pre-requisites: Five semesters of sociology; two may be from cognate disciplines such as anthropology or social psychology.

Course Description

Pro-democracy revolutionaries, internet freedom hackers, feminist mediasmiths, anti-capitalists, anti-corporate globalization activists, racial equality actors, indigenous rights workers, data leakers, and others use the internet to distribute their ideals and organize their social movements. In this fast-paced, participatory, and creative module students will execute their own social movement. This hands-on course invites students to work together and design, implement, and reflect upon their own political campaign. Each week we will discuss social movement theories and student social movement experiences to better understand how social movements form and use communication technologies. Students will interrogate their efforts to make political change through two group presentations, group website creation, group social media use, group video production, and a group-written annual report

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • explain how the basic architecture of the internet and the affordances of social media impact the organization of social movements;
  • understand the role of the nation state in internet policy
  • explain how business expectations for the internet and social media help or hinder the development of social movements.

Outline Syllabus

The module sessions cover the background and overview of the internet as a socio-technical system and looks at some of the tensions and contradictions that structure the cultural and politics of the internet. The module draws on specific, often ethnographically informed, cases of cultures using the internet in forms of political actions.

This module would include weekly topics that draw from the following.

  • Who Built the Internet
  • Hippies Built the Internet
  • Hackers Built the Internet
  • Reinterpreting the History of the Internet
  • Cool Start-Up Work
  • Geographies of the Internet
  • Digital Labour: You are working while you are on Facebook?
  • The Social and Ecological Cost of Convergence
  • Politics or Profit of Platforms
  • What the Internet is Hiding From Us
  • Myth of Digital Democracy
  • Leaks and Spins: WikiLeaks
  • Anonymous and Hackivist
  • The Internet and Arab Spring Revolutions
  • Occupy Movement and Media
  • Pirate Culture, Twitter, Hacktivist, and WikiLeaks

Assessment Proportions

  • Practical 40%
  • Essay 40%
  • Presentation 20%

MCS.321: Cities, Cultures, Creativities - Urban Development in the Age of Global Media

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term only
  • US Credits: 4 US semester credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS credits
  • Pre-requisites: Five semesters of sociology; two may be from cognate disciplines such as anthropology or social psychology

Course Description

This module explores the relationship between cities, cultures and creativity by analysing how urban social, artistic and media practices shape the everyday lives, design and perception of contemporary international cities. It combines theoretical readings and discussion-based seminars with case studies that examine examples of creative urbanism from cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Manchester, New York, Paris, Shanghai and others. Areas of focus range from street art and new media activism, to museum programming, city planning, and architectural design. The module uses urban creative initiatives as examples to learn and practice research concepts and methods that facilitate the critical analysis of contemporary media and cultural practices – including narrative and visual culture; art, media and performance; urban branding, heritage and memory politics. In so doing, it invites students to reflect upon the social, economic and environmental implications of creative initiatives in cities. Seminar sessions combine the discussion of critical urban theory with the exploration of case studies. Course readings derive from the disciplines of media and cultural studies, sociology and urban planning.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to...

  • understand the place and role of creative urbanism in cultural globalisation and urban development.

  • understand current trends and developments in contemporary urban art, media, and culture, particularly in relation to Europe.

  • critically apply theoretical and methodological approaches from media and cultural studies, sociology, critical and postcolonial theory to the study of contemporary cities and cultures.

  • grasp and critically engage with main developments in the fields of urban studies, media/cultural studies and globalisation studies.

  • write academic project proposals and short essays.

  • Demonstrate familiarity with a number of key social science writings on city life and urbanism

  • Apply a sophisticated critical understanding of a number of perspectives, themes and concepts to exploring people’s experience of the urban

  • Appreciate and understand these theories in terms of their historical and socio-political context

  • Recognise the relevance of these theories for the critical analysis of contemporary society

  • Read and analyse critically a wide range of social science texts

Outline Syllabus

  • Introduction: This session draws on Henri Lefebvre’s theory of a social ‘production of space’ to discuss the role of culture and media in shaping cities and urban dwellers’ experience of urban space.

  • Urban Media and the Mediated Metropolis: This session focuses on the role of media such as urban film and photography, tourist guides and tourist blogs, mobile applications and augmented reality devices in producing urban space and experience.

  • The Urban Imaginary: This session introduces a key concept of this course – the concept of the urban imaginary. It invites students to critically think about the ways in which expectations, stereotypes and cognitive mappings of urban space – produced in global media discourses – shape our experience and behaviour in cities. It also discusses the role of urban imaginaries in shaping urban planning and architectural discourses and decisions, and it critically questions the idea of ‘urban authenticity’.

  • Urban Architecture and Design: This session discusses the various ways in which urban planners and architects have imagined cities throughout modernity and postmodernity. In particular, it invites students to critically reflect upon the ideological dimensions of urban planning and architectural design. Potential case studies include Le Corbusier’s plan of a city for three million inhabitants as well as Kevin Lynch’s ideals of urban form in The Image of the City.

  • The Creative City: This session critically discusses what has been called the ‘creativity paradigm’ in urban planning and policymaking. In particular, it discusses Richard Florida’s work on ‘the creative city’ and presents case studies of how international cities have implemented Florida’s ideas.

  • Creative Urban Redevelopment: This session draws upon the previous session to further discuss the concept of the ‘creative city’. In particular, the session asks how the ‘creative city’ idea is used in the context of post-industrial urban redevelopment. Students are invited to critically discuss the implications of using creativity as a means of urban branding, thinking also about issues of urban exclusion and gentrification.

  • The Smart City: This session discusses the role of technologies in creatively engaging with and developing urban space. Examples range from smart devices such as GPS or parking apps to smart city designs such as Masdar City in Abu Dhabi or the London DataStore project. In this context, we will also critically question the extent to which smart city devices and designs can help us tackle urban problems of traffic/congestion, pollution, security, et cetera.

  • Urban Memory Politics: This session focuses on heritage and memory culture in cities. Questions addressed in this session include: What is the role of urban sites, memorials, museums, events and performances in emphasizing particular ideas of cultural heritage? How do urban dwellers engage with the different ‘layers of memory’ that are inherent in city space?

  • Creative Counter Cultures: This session focuses on practices of creative resistance in cities. Taking examples from recent protest movements such as Occupy Wall Street or the Hong Kong Umbrella movement – but also from previous movements such as the Situationist International – this session will reflect on the city as polis – i.e. a space of public discourse and political debate/conflict.

  • Post-Colonial Urban Cultures: Drawing on postcolonial theory, this session critically reflects on the very meaning of urbanity and the ways in which cities have been theorised in critical urban theory. The session will discuss issues of Western-centrism in urban research and design, and reflect on possible ways of studying urban development from a more global and inclusive perspective.

Assessment Proportions

  • Analytic exercise (30%)
  • 3000 word essay OR creative project (blog, video, photo essay) +1000 - 2000 word critical commentary (70%)

SOCL101: Introduction to Sociology

  • Terms Taught: Full Year course.
  • Also Available:
    • Michaelmas Term only.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only.
    • NOTE:  If you are studying with us for a Full Academic Year and you select a course that has full year and part year variants, you will not be allowed to take only part of the course.
  • US Credits:
    • Full Year course - 10 Semester Credits.
    • Michaelmas Term only - 4 Semester Credits.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 6 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year course - 20 ECTS Credits.
    • Michaelmas Term only - 8 Semester Credits.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 12 Semester Credits

Course Description

This course offers a general introduction to sociological issues, ideas, concepts, evidence and argument by examining some key aspects of the contemporary world. The topic areas covered in the lectures include: privatisation, identity, globalisation, city lives. A number of different sociological skills are emphasised in order to provide basic tools for applying sociological reasoning in relation to empirical examples. It provides a general understanding of sociology for all and a foundation for more advanced study.

Outline Syllabus

This course provides a general introduction to sociology by way of an integrated scheme of lectures, seminars and workshops. Theories, methods and the findings from sociological research are covered selectively. Principal themes include:

  • rationalisation,
  • consumer culture,
  • privatisation,
  • comparative social development and inequality.

Assessment is varied and includes a report on a research project carried out by students themselves.

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 60%
  • Exam: 40%

SOCL209: Consumer Culture and Advertising

  • Terms Taught: Full Year course.
  • Also Available:
    • Michaelmas Term only.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only.
    • NOTE:  If you are studying with us for a Full Academic Year and you select a course that has full year and part year variants, you will not be allowed to take only part of the course.
  • US Credits:
    • Full Year course - 8 Semester Credits.
    • Michaelmas Term only - 4 Semester Credits.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 4 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year course - 16 ECTS Credits.
    • Michaelmas Term only - 8 Semester Credits.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 8 Semester Credits
  • Pre-requisites: Two semesters of sociology.

Course Description

Consumption and advertising are critical in the understanding of contemporary society – they mediate how we think about ourselves and others and how we form social structures. This course introduces a range of theoretical perspectives on consumer culture and advertising and includes various case studies. Topics include: commodities and exchange; shopping and identity; class and lifestyle; advertising agencies’ gender and advertising images; anti-consumerism and protest.

Educational Aims

Consumer culture and advertising are key to understanding contemporary culture - they mediate how we think about ourselves and others, and form important economic institutions. This unit introduces a range of theoretical perspectives on consumer culture in the Michaelmas term, and advertising in the Lent term, and applies them to case studies of consumption, the advertising industry, advertising texts and broader social contexts. The course examines the role of consumerism and advertising in cultural change and in shaping identities.

Aims:

  • to introduce a range of sociological perspectives on consumer culture and advertising
  • to introduce methods of analysing advertising
  • to analyse the role of advertising and discourses of consumerism in shaping identities

Outline Syllabus

Consumption and advertising are key to understanding contemporary society ? they mediate how we think about ourselves and others, form social structures, and they organise resources and ideas. This course introduces a range of theoretical perspectives on consumer culture and advertising and includes various case studies. Topics include: commodities and exchange; shopping and identity; class and lifestyle; advertising agencies' gender and advertising images; anti-consumerism and protest.

Assessment Proportions

  • 2 x 3000 word essays: 50%
  • Analytic exercise: 20%
  • Exam: 30%

SOCL243: Racisms and Racial Formation

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: Two semesters of sociology

Course Description

Racial and ethnic distinctions have been central to the formation of modern nations and collective identities. This half unit course focuses on racism and racial formations in the world today in both historical and contemporary perspectives. Topics to be considered include definitions of ‘race’; theories of racial formation’; ‘racial projects’ of colonialism and imperialism; the social construction of ‘whiteness’; racisms and religion (e.g. anti-semitism and Islamophobia); online racisms. The aim of the course is not only for students to gain an overview of various sociological approaches to explaining ‘race’, but also to gain an understanding of how such theories make a difference in the world today.

Assessment Proportions

  • 1 x 3000 word essay (50%)
  • 20% other
  • Exam (30%)

SOCL310: Nations and Migration

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas only.
  • US Credits: 4 semester credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: Five semesters of sociology; two may be from cognate disciplines such as anthropology or social psychology.

Course Description

‘Belonging’ to a nation is widely seen to be as ‘natural’ as ‘belonging’ to a family or a home. This course explores how such assumptions about national belonging come about, by introducing students to a range of theoretical approaches and debates.

  • How are the nation and national belonging socially constructed?
  • How is the nation defined?
  • Who belongs, who doesn’t?

The course addresses these questions by examining what everyday practices, discourses and representations reveal about the ways we think about, and inhabit, the ‘nation’.

In the second part, the course pays particular attention to nation formation in relation to debates about multiculturalism, diversity and migration and asks:

  • What are the impacts of migration and multiculture on definitions of the nation?
  • How is multiculturalism defined and perceived?

Although we will focus on the example of Britain, the issues raised will be of interest to all students concerned with the effects of nationalisms and ideas of belonging and entitlement, which many countries of the contemporary world are presently debating in the context of the ‘Age of migration’ (Castles and Miller 1998)

Educational Aims

This course aims:

  • To introduce sociological issues surrounding the concepts of nation, migration and multiculturalism
  • To develop an understanding of discourse analysis
  • To introduce questions of power and politics surrounding the processes of identity formation

Outline Syllabus

Lecture topics include:

  • 'We the people': the forging of nations;
  • A country idyll;
  • Migrant belongings and transnational connections;
  • Consumer culture, diversity and 'eating the other';
  • Multiculturalism and the hybrid nation.

Assessment Proportions

  • Essay: 70%
  • Compilation of reflective pieces: 30%

SOCL314: Feminism and Social Change

  • Terms Taught: Full Year course.
  • Also Available:
    • Michaelmas Term only
    • Lent / Summer Terms only.
    • NOTE:  If you are studying with us for a Full Academic Year and you select a course that has full year and part year variants, you will not be allowed to take only part of the course.
  • US Credits:
    • Full Year course - 8 Semester Credits.
    • Michaelmas Term only - 4 Semester Credits.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year course - 16 ECTS Credits.
    • Michaelmas Term only - 8 ECTS Credits
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 8 ECTS Credits
  • Pre-requisites: Five semesters of sociology; two may be from cognate disciplines such as anthropology or social psychology.

Course Description

This challenging course investigates gender inequalities within society through a focus on historical and contemporary debates in feminist theory and activism. The course has an `intersectional` focus that means we will consider gender inequalities as bound up with other forms of discrimination and marginalisation, particularly racial and ethnic inequalities, disability and social class.

The first term will challenge you to think about `what feminism means today` through a consideration of key aspects of feminist thought and activism from the late 1960s onwards. We will consider ideas such as ‘the personal is political’, consciousness raising and the contemporary relevance of sexism. We will also consider feminist research practices and methods and the idea of work as liberation to prepare you to carry out an intergenerational interview on the theme of gender, work and social change. In the latter part of term 1 we will explore the Women’s Health Movement and explore contemporary feminist activism through current examples of everyday activism. In the second term we take the feminist manifesto as a central document which expresses lived experiences of gender inequalities and collective desire for social change and explore the contemporary resonance of ideas introduced in the first term through engaging with topics such as breast cancer activism, anti-feminist backlash, and black and cyborg feminisms.

Throughout the course we will interrogate social constructions of sex differences and consider how lived experiences of inequality are perpetuated. By the end of the course you will be familiar with some of the key debates within feminism today and be able to make connections between feminist theory and forms of feminist practice. This course will challenge you to interrogate your own assumptions about sexual difference and inequality and we expect you to take a full part in lively class discussion and debate. The course involves analysis of varied media including academic texts, advertising, art, film and news media.

Educational Aims

  • to examine key concepts and theoretical approaches in contemporary feminist theory
  • to develop core skills of critical scholarly analysis, evaluation, and interpretation
  • to improve written and spoken expression, argumentation, criticism, and use of evidence
  • to introduce and develop methodologies for interpreting visual and textual sources
  • to develop confidence in scholarly reading and writing

Outline Syllabus

  • Introduction: The Nature-Culture debate
  • Gender
  • What is Sex and Gender?
  • Performativity
  • Transgender
  • Sustaining Feminisms - Women, Work and Class
  • Essay Writing/Reading Week
  • Sex Work/Prostitution, Migration and Trafficking
  • Media and Body Image: Workshop
  • Overview of the First Term

Assessment Proportions

  • Analytical Exercises or equivalent (2 x 1500 word): 40%
  • Essay (1 x 3000 word): 30%
  • Exam: 30%

or

  • Dissertation (6000 word) instead of essay and exam: 60%

SOCL315: Sociology of the Future

  • Terms Taught: Full Year course.
  • Also Available:
    • Michaelmas term only
    NOTE:  If you are studying with us for a Full Academic Year and you select a course that has full year and part year variants, you will not be allowed to take only part of the course.
  • US Credits:
    • Full Year course - 8 Semester Credits.
    • Michaelmas Term only - 4 Semester Credits.
     
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year course - 16 ECTS Credits
    • Michaelmas Term only - 8 ECTS Credits
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 8 ECTS Credits
  • Pre-requisites: Five semesters of sociology; two may be from cognate disciplines such as anthropology or social psychology.

Course Description

In contemporary capitalist societies (wedded to ideas of growth, innovation and progress) we are encouraged and accustomed to anticipate and speak about what is not yet - what we will be when we grow up, when we finish university. We live in societies in which forecasting and planning for the future is an important activity for governments, institutions, businesses and individuals. We live in societies in which imaginings of the future as a better time, or as a more fearful one, circulate in the here and now, calling us into action or invoking threats or desires. This module considers how we should understand the future from sociological and cultural perspectives.

The modules address the way the future has been looked in order to gain foresight into what might happen. We will also consider how imaginings of the future circulate in the present through the work of scientists, artists, filmmakers, writers, academics, politicians and others. What effect do visions of the future have on the present? How do they persuade us to change our behaviour, or not? What do cinematic and literary representations of the future tell us about the world today and our fears and hopes? How have ideas of the future changed over time? In light of the financial crisis, and today’s ‘age of austerity’, do we see the future differently?

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of how ideas, images and practices related to the future shape the social and cultural lives of people in the present
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how sociologists and media and cultural studies scholars have engaged with and understood the future
  • Critically assess and use a range of sociological and media and cultural studies concepts introduced during the course of the module

Outline Syllabus

Indicative Topics include:

  • methods and practices of forecasting and planning;
  • the sociology of expectations;
  • the future in an age of austerity;
  • imperatives of self-transformations;
  • health futures;
  • cinematic and literary representations of utopias and dystopias;
  • climate change and sustainability;
  • science, technology and the future.

Assessment Proportions

  • Dissertation (optional): 80%
  • Presentation: 20%

or

  • Essay(s): 50%
  • Exam: 30%
  • Presentation: 20%

SOCL326: Society and Drugs

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: five semesters of sociology

Course Description

This module focuses on sociological and interdisciplinary research on 'drugs' (including alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription/over-the-counter drugs, and novel psychoactive substances). The module has a broad intellectual remit which incorporates - but also goes beyond - criminological and criminal justice aspects of drug use to include social, philosophical, historical and cultural perspectives on drugs, drug use and drug users. The module will appeal to BA Sociology students alongside joint major students BA Sociology and Criminology AND those studying other social sciences and humanities (BA Media and Cultural Studies, BA Politics, Philosophy and Religion, LLB Law, BA Criminology).

We will consider ‘what a drug is’, alongside how and why we take drugs, by exploring the relationship between society, culture and intoxication. Together we will examine classic and contemporary literature on 'drugs' and the 'drug experience', including drug ethnographies, critical drug studies, and narcocultural studies (eg. literary works and media on drugs). We will also analyse how certain forms of drug use are produced as ‘social problems’ to develop a critical understanding of the aims, efficacies and inadequacies of societal responses to drug use, including drug education programmes, public health policies, treatment regimes, recovery work, and criminal sanctions. Other topics covered include club drugs in post-rave dance cultures; continuity and change in drug markets/distribution systems; drug prohibition, its consequences, and its alternatives; illicit drugs, globalisation and securitisation; gender, sexuality and drugs; researching drugs/drug use (theoretical concepts, research methods and ethics); risks, harms and pleasure; and mapping drug futures in the digital age.

Assessment Proportions

  • 1 x 4000 word essay (90%)
  • 1 x 500 word reflective report on drug debates (10%)

SOCL327: Violence and Society

  • Terms Taught: Full Year course.
  • Also Available:
    • Michaelmas Term only.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only.
    • NOTE:  If you are studying with us for a Full Academic Year and you select a course that has full year and part year variants, you will not be allowed to take only part of the course.
  • US Credits:
    • Full Year course - 8 Semester Credits.
    • Michaelmas Term only - 4 Semester Credits.
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits:
    • Full Year course - 16 ECTS
    • Michaelmas Term only - 8 ECTS
    • Lent / Summer Terms only - 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: Five semesters of sociology; two may be from cognate disciplines such as anthropology or social psychology

Course Description

Violence matters to contemporary society: war, terrorism, domestic violence, rape and genocide destroy lives. The course introduces the different ways in which Sociology has thought about, theorised and analysed violence.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of contrasting sociological approaches to the concepts and theories and empirical material on violence and society
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of contrasting approaches to the analysis of variations in the form and level of violence in society;
  • critically analyse, evaluate and apply different approaches to the sociological analysis of violence and society

Outline Syllabus

Topics studied will typically include the following:

  • Introduction: violence, social order and social change
  • Violence as a social institution: Durkheim
  • Coercion and consent: Gramsci
  • Brutal, disciplinary and securitised forms of governmentality: Foucault
  • Violence and modernity: Elias, Gurr, Bauman
  • Violence from below: Fanon, Tilly, Bourdieu
  • Violent crime and socio-economic inequality: Merton, Ray
  • Measuring changes in violent crime: British Crime Survey and criminal statistics
  • Gender-based violence against women: Kelly, Stark
  • Hate crime and ethnic cleansing: Iganski, Mann
  • Changes in the criminal justice system: Garland, Wacquant
  • The modern state and the concentration of violence: Weber, Tilly, Mann
  • War, democracy and power: Rummel
  • War, old and new forms; state and privatisation: Kaldor, Harris, Shaw
  • Militarism and gender: Enloe
  • Peace processes: Galtung, Brewer
  • Terrorism: Gregory
  • Globalisation: Chase-Dunn, Arrighi, Bunch
  • Securitisation: national security priorities
  • Increases or decreases in violence over time

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 50%
  • Exam: 50%

SOCL330: Living with Capitalism: Class, Distribution and Recognition

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term Only
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: Five semesters of sociology; two may be from cognative disciplines such as anthropology or social psychology.

Course Description

Economic inequalities have widened in advanced capitalist countries and yet many people are reluctant even to acknowledge the existence of class. The course analyses how inequalities of class and status are generated, how they relate to other kinds of inequality, and how they are experienced. It explores how the social forms and mechanisms of capitalist economic organisation interact with other sources of inequality, not only producing an unequal distribution of resources and opportunities but affecting the ways in which people value themselves and others. Linking social structure to personal experience, the course applies social theory, including that of Pierre Bourdieu and Henri Lefebvre, to the ‘common sense’ about class and to their people’s everyday experiences.

Educational Aims

The aims of this module are:

  • to allow you to explore recent work in sociology on class in relation to economic inequalities and recognition, particularly through the work of Pierre Bourdieu;
  • to understand how inequalities of class and status are generated and how they relate to other kinds of inequality;
  • to apply social theory relating to these matters to the interpretation of everyday life and the experience of class.

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 70%
  • Exam: 30%