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 Womens' 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.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%

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%

SOCL207: Friendship, Intimacy and Society

  • Terms Taught: Lent / Summer Terms only.
  • US Credits: 4 semester credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: Two semesters of sociology

Course Description

This course explores the role of friendship in society. Classical and contemporary sociological accounts often claim that social bonds have been eroded or that personal relationships and community have become less stable and more ‘liquid’. Sociology has focused most attention on family ties and kinship in exploring these questions. But a focus on friendship can offer new perspectives on society. This course will ask: What does friendship mean today? What form of social bond is friendship? Has social change impacted on friendship and vice versa?

Educational Aims

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

  • Demonstrate familiarity with a number of key social science writings on friendship
  • Developed a sophisticated critical understanding of a number of perspectives, themes and concepts exploring social bonds and social change
  • Acquired an appreciation and understanding of these theories in terms of their historical and socio-political contexts.
  • Recognised the relevance of these theories for the critical analysis of contemporary society
  • Developed their confidence and demonstrated their ability to apply some of these concepts and insights to the study of present-day social phenomena

Outline Syllabus

Topics will vary from year to year, but will normally be drawn from the following:

  • Introduction; outlines issues and debates; usual sociological focus on family kinship and the household as the unit of analysis; introduction to ideas of other social bonds and networks.
  • Fragmenting bonds, dissolving communities? Sociological debates about social changes and dissolution of bonds and community (classic accounts eg Durkheim  Simmel; more recent accounts eg Bauman); debates about changing working class and middle class communities.
  • Social connections reconsidered. Significance of what have been called micro-social worlds recent work on social significance of acquaintances and friend-like ties; exploration of friendship repertoires (different types of friends people report having).
  • Age, life course and friendship. Exploration of the significance of life stage to friendship e.g. in youth and in older age; explores relationship of friendships to family commitments and family ties.
  • Gender and friendship. Relationship of gender to friendship; studies of differing networks and meanings of mens and womens friendships; cross-gender friendship.
  • Friends at a Distance. Relationship of friendship and connection to spatial distance, migration and mobility; new technologies of social networking sites; friendships over time (temporal distance).  
  • Lives lived differently. Exploration of relationships made less visible by normative ideas e.g. LGBT literature, friendship as families we choose normativity, power and privilege; friendship as political?
  • The romance ideal and friendship. Exploration of relationship of friendship to romance ideal of the couple; revisiting the literature on the family via a focus on friendship.
  • The creation of community  social solidarity. Significance of friendship across classes and ethnic groups; relationship of friendship to ideal of community cohesion; policy interventions and social engineering relationship of friendship to social capital.
  • Friendship and Sociology. Reflection on what an analysis of friendship can offer sociological understandings of intimacy, social change, and social bonds.

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 70%
  • Exam: 30%

SOCL208: Gender, Sexuality 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 Credits
    • Michaelmas Term only: 8 ECTS Credits
    • Lent / Summer Terms only: 8 ECTS Credits
  • Pre-requisites: Two semesters of sociology.

Course Description

There have been huge changes in women's position in society over the last century, with many advances made in the struggle against sexual inequality.  This course considers a range of feminist approaches to explaining transformations in sexual relations and gender formations over the last century.

Educational Aims

  • Gain a solid, basic grasp of some key debates and developments in feminist theories
  • Understand how a focus on women's lives and standpoints has transformed traditional sociological practice and theory.
  • Gain an overview of the major changes in women's lives over the twentieth century, (primarily in Britain), and to appreciate their social and political relationship to women in other parts of the world.
  • Learn key concepts, approaches, and changes in the study of women in society over the past twenty years, including an understanding of the impact that feminist theory has had on the social sciences.
  • Become aware of the racism, ethnocentrism, Eurocentrism or other structures of exclusion inherent in social analysis and be able to apply this awareness self-reflectively.
  • Improve skills in analysing a range of sources relevant to the study of women in society, includingvisual images, historical data, qualitative and quantitative empirical data, contemporary print media, and   web-based information.

Outline Syllabus

Topics covered will include the following areas:

  • the concept of patriarchy,
  • the history of the women's liberation movement,
  • women's paid and unpaid work,
  • sexuality and violence,
  • 'Third World' women and global networks,
  • Black Feminist theory,
  • embodiment and public space,
  • sexual citizenship,
  • home/gender/race/nation.

Assessment Proportions

  • Essays (2 x 3000 word): 50%
  • Exam: 25%
  • Group presentation: 25%

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%

SOCL210: 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%

SOCL221: Climate Change and Society

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

Course Description

Climate change debates are shifting, and beginning to make much stronger links between a vast and complex planetary perspective ( a globe in crisis) and the private sphere (the home, low-carbon lifestyles, consumer demand, etc). In this context, social theorists have begun to consider what contribution sociological thinking can make to contemporary debates on climate change, aiming to give students an understanding of: climate change and social change; new subjectivities, institutions and collectives under climate change; climate change and social activism; utopias and dystopias of climate change; the politics of climate change science; and the global political economy of climate change.

Educational Aims

After taking this module students should have a good knowledge of the range of contributions that sociology has made, to date, to the understanding and framing of climate change. The module will take students through different sociological perspectives via the close reading of academic texts, seminar discussions,seminar exercises, group work, empirical study of climate change and society , short presentations and debates. As a result students should be able to think critically about the different ways in which climate change is framed and debated in both public and academic arenas. They should be able to discern how different approaches foreground certain issues and background others and to judge for themselves which approaches they feel important to developing sociological analysis and critique on climate change issues.

This module will provide students with opportunities to develop skills in: critical reading; empirical study of climate change and society; using the internet to source materials for analysis; presenting and debating  ideas; academic writing and referencing.

Outline Syllabus

Indicative course outline - lecture/seminar topics will include:

  • Introduction: sociologies of climate change
  • Culture and controversy in climate change science
  • Climate change and capital
  • The political economy of climate change
  • Climate change and emerging economies
  • ‘Adaptation’, ‘mitigation’, ‘transition’ 'innovation' and the utopia of a low carbon society
  • Climate change and social change
  • Climate change and the mobility paradigm
  • New subjectivities, institutions and collectives under climate change
  • Climate change dystopias (insecurity, war)

Assessment Proportions

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

SOCL230: Bodies in Society

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

Course Description

Social and cultural theories of the body have transformed sociological thinking in the last two decades.  Indeed, theories and accounts of the body and embodiment have become a central focus of sociology. The course explores how social differences, such as gender, race, and class, impact in the formation and experience of human bodies and identities. Through a focus on power relations, invisibility and visibility, surveillance, social class, race, ethnicity and disability, this course explores some of the theoretical, conceptual and empirical grids through which bodies are understood, perceived, imagined, expressed and lived. It examines bodies in the context of complex social arrangements and processes, as a site of social control, and as the repository of shifting categorisations. This course will have a particular focus on social exclusion and on those bodies which do not easily fit within dominant social and cultural norms; those bodies which are perceived to be ‘out of place’, abject or deviant, and the ways in which (under difficult social conditions) the body is imagined and employed as a site of resistance and protest.

Educational Aims

To introduce students to core concepts and theoretical perspectives such as embodiment, abjection, essentialism, mind/body dualisms, intercorporeality, the body politic, and reductionism emerging out of phenomenology, critical race theory, psychoanalytic perspectives, feminist perspectives, anthropology, science and technology studies and history of science

Outline Syllabus

This course will explore bodily experiences as represented and shaped by science, society and the media. 

  • How are bodies made socially meaningful? 
  • How are they represented?
  • How read?
  • How accepted and rejected?
  • How is sense made of the body as an object of representation in print, photography, film medical imaging, and art?
  • As the subject of experience, through pleasure, pain, sex, disease and death? 
  • What is the body we dream of and what of the body that eats, works and dies? 

Charting a course along the intellectual and practical boundaries of the humanities, art, and science, we will explore the conceptual and empirical grids through which somatic experience, life and the body have been perceived, imagined and expressed.

Assessment Proportions

  • Short Film or animated powerpoint: 30%
  • 4000 word academic research project: 70%

SOCL242: Crime, Poverty and Social Security

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 US semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: At least one semester of social science.

Course Description

This course explores ways in which crime, poverty and social security policy are inter-related. It focuses upon issues including the role of poverty as a factor contributing to criminal behaviour; the protection of society from the perceived threat of poor people and groups, and the role of the social security policy in managing aspects of the crime problem.

Educational Aims

The course will be taught in the format of a formal lecture and seminar/workshop in each week of the Michaelmas or Lent term. The course examines relationships between crime and poverty and deprivation, and the management of these relationships through social security policy. It develops theory and knowledge that students are introduced to in the first year related to social exclusion, criminal justice and support for poor people, particularly lone mothers and young men. 

Seminars will be designed to:

  • complement the lecture material
  • encourage a critical evaluation of readings
  • encourage collaborative and co-operation between students in tackling problems
  • help students understand statistical data

Outline Syllabus

Week 1:

  • Introduction. Poverty and income inequality

Week 2:

  • Unemployment and social security. Evidence of links between crime and social conditions

Week 3:             

  • Theorising links between crime and poverty 1: pathology and personal deficits.
  • Theorising links between crime and poverty 2: social explanations

Week 4:              

  • Women, Poverty and Crime. Social security fraud: policy, numbers and politics

Week 5:              

  • Social security fraud: is it a matter for concern? Thinking about your essay

Week 6:              

  • Essay consultations

Week 7:              

  • Relative deprivation, crime and street homelessness.
  • Rights and responsibilities: criminalising social policy?

Week 8:             

  • Controlling disorder (1): lone mothers, role models and paid work.
  • Controlling disorder (2): young men and paid work

Week 9:              

  • ‘Anti-social behaviour’ and housing. Financial penalties and poverty

Week 10:            

  • Unemployment and imprisonment.
  • Course review

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 100%

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%)

SOCL245: Welfare Practices and Resistance

  • Terms Taught: Lent and Summer terms only
  • US Credits: 4 Semester credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: Two semesters of sociology

Course Description

The course focuses upon key issues in understanding welfare provision in Britain. The course will examine what is meant by welfare, its roles and how they might be understood. It will also focus upon selected areas of welfare provision that in recent years have excited particular interest in both social policy making and resistance to it. In particular the course will focus upon:

  • what is meant by ‘welfare’ and what its roles in contemporary society can be considered to be
  • how welfare policies are informed by, but also help to reproduce, inequities
  • how and why the development of, and changes to, selected welfare policies have been resisted by various social actors and organisations
  • what impact instances of resistance have had on social welfare policies

Outline Syllabus

What is welfare?

What is the point of welfare?

Liberal traditions in welfare

Radical traditions in welfare

Work and workfare

Regulating wages

Family support and natalism

Discrimination, equality and human rights

Care, Control and Independent Living

Violence Whose lives matter?

Assessment Proportions

  • Blog: 35%
  • Either 3000 essay or 2 hour exam: 65%

 

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%

SOCL311: Disasters: Why do things go wrong?

  • 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 cognate disciplines such as anthropology or social psychology.

Course Description

What counts as a disaster? Do disasters have a beginning, middle and end? Is it possible to make disaster-proof systems? Why do modern technologies fail or succeed? What can sociology teach us about these questions?  This course uses case studies of disasters (technical and social) to explore these questions.

Educational Aims

If you successfully complete the course you will have learned:

  • that social and technical factors are closely related
  • about the major sociological models for thinking about complex social and technological systems
  • about the major contemporary analyses of the origins socio-technical failure and disaster
  • selected contemporary strategies for avoiding catastrophe, and some of the limits to those strategies
  • that disaster and catastrophe (or success) are social constructions and are therefore contestable, and sometimes invisible

Outline Syllabus

  • What happens in disaster
  • Why do modern technologies fail ? succeed? 
  • Is success and always obvious?
  • How might we make disaster-proof systems? 
  • What can sociology teach us about these questions? 

This module uses case studies of technical and social disasters and successes to explore these questions.

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 50%
  • Exam: 30%
  • PBL: 20%

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%

SOCL321: 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%)

SOCL325: Media, Mediation and Crises

  • Terms Taught: Lent and Summer terms 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

How are crises visually and discursively represented? How do these mediations shape everyday practices and public concerns? This course examines practices of mediation – such as news, photography, popular film, financial modelling, cultural narratives, crowdsourced crisis mapping, celebrity humanitarianism – and explores what they reveal about community, society, threats, technology and nature. Such mediations affect political decisions, ethical values, scientific research, and social action. Focusing on theories of mediation, students will learn techniques through which to analyse how different representational forms shape how we come to understand and act on the world around us. Through readings, real world examples, and case studies, this course will address diverse historical and contemporary forms of crisis (from Y2K to the 2008 global financial crisis, political crises, refugee crises, disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the 2010 Haiti Earthquake or the 2015 UK floods, and slow motion crises such as climate change, air pollution, antimicrobial resistance, environmental displacement) to explore how we come to know crises through media, in crisis response, in government planning, and in activist communities.

Educational Aims

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

  • Explain how various media shape the meaning of crises, the narratives of their causes and implictations, including the cultural and ethical responsibility of such meanings.
  • Express how crises are situated in large complex socio-technical assemblages.
  • Identify the importance of discourse, language, and art in crisis policy and priorities.

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 30%
  • Coursework: 10%
  • Essay(s): 40%
  • Groupwork: 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%