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Sociology of the Future - SOC00047H

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  • Department: Sociology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Richard Tutton
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23
    • See module specification for other years: 2021-22

Module summary

On this module, we consider how we should understand the future from sociological perspectives. We focus on how societies have tried to look into the future, to predict what will happen next, and we consider how to look at the future in terms of how it is imagined and contested today by artists, filmmakers, writers, scientists, academics, politicians and activists.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2022-23

Module aims

On this module we aim for you:

  1. To gain a detailed understanding of key sociological engagements with the future, and to learn key concepts and approaches in the study of the future;

  2. To develop a critical understanding of how different social groups construct images and narratives about possible futures and act in the present to bring them about;

  3. To develop a critical appreciation of how contestations about the future animate contemporary social life.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  1. Explain key sociological engagements, concepts and approaches in the study of the future;

  2. Critically analyse how different social groups construct images and narratives about alternative possible futures, act in the present to bring them about, and challenge images and narratives made by other groups;

  3. Demonstrate your own analytical engagements with sociological ideas and ongoing debates about possible and preferred social futures;

  4. Collaborate effectively in group discussions and to successfully complete tasks.

Module content

Indicative Module Syllabus
Week 2: Telling and Taming the Future in Past Societies
Week 3: Utopia and the Imaginary Reconstitution of Society
Week 4; Dystopia and the Worst of all Possible Worlds
Week 5: Sociology of the Future in the 1960s
Week 6: Sociology of Expectations
Week 7: Fictional Prototypes and Imagined Futures
Week 8: Producing and Caring for the Future
Week 9: Sociology and your Futures this Century


Task Length % of module mark
Assessment 1 - Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Assessment 1 - Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Summative assessment - written feedback

Formative assessment - verbal feedback

Feedback at University level can be understood as any part of the learning process which is designed to guide your progress through your degree programme by providing commentary on your work to date. So feedback means more than just written comments on written work. We aim to help you to reflect on your own learning and to feel clearer about your progress through clarifying what is expected of you informative and summative assessments. The University guidelines for feedback are available in the Guide to Assessment Standards, Marking and Feedback.

 On this module, you will receive feedback in a number of forms:

  • On your formative assessment, you will receive verbal feedback about how to improve your work (though you may not receive a mark)

  • On summative assessment you will receive detailed written feedback from the marker. This is intended to show areas in which you have done well, and areas in which you need to improve.

  • Your supervisor will also give you feedback on your work. S/he will be able to look across a range of your work and discuss ways in which you can build on your strengths and improve in any areas

Indicative reading

Indicative reading: 

Adam, B and C Groves (2007) Future Matters: Action, Knowledge, Ethics, Leiden: Brill Bell, W and J. Mau (1971) (eds) The Sociology of the Future, Russell Sage Foundation: New York. Coleman, R and R Tutton (2017) 'Introduction to Special Issue of The Sociological Review on 'Futures in question: theories, methods, practices', The Sociological Review, 65 (3): 440-447

Urry, J. (2016) What is the Future? Polity Press: London

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.