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Introduction to Sociological Theory - SOC00002C

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  • Department: Sociology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Amanda Rees
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22
    • See module specification for other years: 2022-23

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2021-22 to Summer Term 2021-22

Module aims

This module is in two parts. The first part looks at the origins of sociology as a discipline. It opens by looking at the circumstances and conditions leading to some of our discipline s great thinkers and critics including Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), Auguste Comte (1798-1857), Harriet Martineau (1802-1876), Karl Marx (1818-83), Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), Max Weber (1864-1920), and Georg Simmel (1858-1918). We will look at each of these thinkers in turn and will get to grips with some of their key texts. To do this, we will consider each thinker in relation to a set of core concepts and ideas that have become central to sociological theory, for example: gender (Wollstonecraft), class, value and labour (Marx); class status, power and bureaucracy (Weber); positivism and social facts (Durkheim). Through this part of the module, we will raise questions about the intersection of sociological theory and sociological method, and explore connections between the social and the natural sciences. We will also question the contemporary relevance of the above writers by considering the extent to which their theories and concepts are, or are not, out-dated today.

The second part of this module turns its attention to contemporary social theory. The aim here is to build on many of the ideas and concepts considered in the previous term by focussing on sociological theory from the 1960s onwards. It will be organized, like the first term, around key thinkers and fundamental figures in the recent history of the discipline. This includes the Mary Douglas, Michel Foucault, Walter Benjamin, Stuart Hall and Christine Delphi.

Module learning outcomes

  • To provide a detailed introduction to classical and contemporary sociological theory
  • To introduce some key concepts of social theory
  • To illustrate how classical and contemporary theory can be applied to the study of the social world today


Task Length % of module mark
Assessment 1 - 1000 Word Essay
N/A 20
Assessment 2 - 1500 Word Written Essay
N/A 30
Assessment 3 - Introduction to Sociological Theory
N/A 50

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

This module will be assessed via a two hour examination. The questions for the exam will be made available to students via the VLE two weeks in advance of the examination date, but the examination itself will be taken under 'closed' conditions - that is, no source materials will be available to students inside the examination room.


Task Length % of module mark
Introduction to Sociological Theory
N/A 100

Module feedback

Complete feedback will be provided by the first week of the term following the teaching of the module. It will usually consist of four main components:

1. SEMINARS: Your tutors will complete a report for each module giving her/his judgment and comments about your performance and progress during the term in relation to various indicators and skills/abilities. The aim is to encourage students to improve their study skills, to build confidence in their intellectual abilities and their capacity to express participate constructively in group discussion. You will be shown the report forms for the previous term s modules at supervision meetings at the beginning of each term. For this reason, it is vital that you attend these meetings.

2. MODULE MARKS: You will receive these from the Departmental Office. They will be based on your essay and will enable you to judge the relative standard of your work since the same marking scheme is applied to summative Finals Assessment.

3. ESSAY COMMENT FORM: Your tutor will fill this out in detail, commenting on your essay's style, organisation and structure in line with the Department's published marking criteria. Together with your mark, these detailed comments should enable you to judge your performance according to the learning outcomes specified by the Department for each module. You should take these forms with you to your meetings with your supervisor in order that s/he can provide you with overall feedback on your termly performance.

4. EXAMINATIONS: When you meet with your supervisor in Week 1 of Term 4, s/he can arrange to have your examination scripts available from Term 3. You will have the opportunity to receive verbal feedback on your performance from your supervisor, together with the breakdown of your achievement in each component of the examination. You will need to let your supervisor know in advance if you wish to do this.

Indicative reading

  • Ray, L. (1999) Theorizing Classical Sociology. Open University Press.
  • George Ritzer and Douglas Goodman s (2008) Sociological Theory 6th International Edition, McGraw Hill.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.