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Sociology of the North - SOC00038H

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  • Department: Sociology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Daryl Martin
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

The development of sociology has been closely associated with the evolution of industrial societies and their cities. As such, the cities that grew exponentially in the North of England during the Victorian era (Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, etc) can be seen to offer particularly rich examples of the social changes and relations that have interested sociologists throughout the discipline’s history. This course uses particular buildings and spaces in a range of Northern English cities to think through core sociological themes. 

Professional requirements

No additional requirements are needed to study this module.

Related modules


Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

The aims of this module are to introduce students to a range of social theories, require them to read major sociological theorists in the original texts and to explore these with reference to the development of industrial cities in the North of England. Students will be encouraged to think about how the built environment reflects wider processes of social change. 

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module students will be able to:

  • draw upon sociological theories of spatial practice (and their implications for domestic, economic, religious and public cultures) to understand the architectural and social development of Northern English cities;
  • evaluate and critically analyse policy documents relating to urban and regional regeneration, making connections to their wider political contexts;
  • critically explore a range of narratives, myths and histories about social class through a reading of the architectural artefacts and filmed representations of Northern English cities;
  • draw upon social theories discussed in class to carry out research on any building and/or regeneration project and present that research to their peers, and 
  • work in seminar groups to consider readings (e.g., on class, race, ethnicity and the stigma of place) in order discuss these issues respectfully within the wider group.

Module content

The course will begin with an discussion of representations of Northern England in literature, film and television, as well as discussion of cultural signifiers of ‘Northernness’ more broadly. We will then proceed to examine a number of substantive topics on a weekly basis including: the economic history of Northern English cities from the Victorian era to the present; distinctive housing forms associated with these cities and their role in the delivery of welfare and practice of governance; the influence of education (formal and informal, from universities to museums) on narratives of class; the centrality of leisure (retail, music and tourism) to contemporary cities; the impact of organised religion on the built environment and contemporary tensions in these cities, and the use of public spaces as sites of civic culture. The course concludes with a discussion of future visions for these cities based round discourses of mobilities.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 4000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Formative work is embedded in the module through weekly group tasks and discussions. In addition, each student is required to give an individual presentation to the rest of the class in which they analyse a building, film/novel, regeneration project or city of their choosing in the North of England - oral feedback is given to the student by module tutor and peers after this presentation.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 4000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Oral feedback is provided by module convenor and peers in the module workshops on ideas raised during general class discussion and, specifically, to particular students after their individual presentations to the class.

Written feedback is provided by the course convenor on the 4000 word essay, or summative assessments

Indicative reading

Amin, A. (2002) Ethnicity and the multicultural city: living with diversity. Environment and Planning A. 34(6), pp. 959-980.

Bauman, Z. (2000) Liquid modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Bourdieu, P. (1986) Forms of Capital, in Ball, S (ed.) (2004) The RoutledgeFalmer reader in sociology of education. London: Routledge.

Foucault, M. and Rabinow, P. (1986) 'Space, Knowledge and Power', in Rabinow, P (ed.) The Foucault Reader. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Hunt, T. (2005) Building Jerusalem: the rise and fall of the Victorian city. London: Phoenix.

Lefebvre, H. (1991) The production of space. Oxford: Blackwell.

Russell, D. (2004) Looking North: Northern England and the national imagination. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Williams, R. (2004) The anxious city: English urbanism in the late twentieth century. London: Routledge.



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.