SOC40730 Social and Political Thought: Basic texts and discussions

Academic Year 2022/2023

This module provides a detailed introduction to those theorists and practitioners who have contributed in significant ways to historically groundbreaking paradigms in the social sciences. It provides an overview to these approaches and compares them in terms of strength and weaknesses, starting with the historical forunners (Weber and Durkheim) and continuing with the exploration and examination of the hermeneutic tradition and interpretative sociology (the Frankfurt School), the British Marxist tradition (EP Thompson, Raymond Williams), British Cultural Studies (Hall and Birmingham Center for Cultural Studies), French post-structuralist sociology (Bourdieu, Boltanski), American cultural sociology (Alexander) and social anthropology (the Durkheimians, Levi-Strauss and Geertz). Getting to know these various strands and paradigms will help us to better understand and explain the complexities of modern societies and cultures.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

This unit of study aims to provide students with: an advanced general understanding of the sociological approaches and paradigms examined, and a detailed familiarity with at least one; a detailed grasp of the relationships between the different social scientists' work, as well as the ability to critically compare and contrast them with each other; the ability to analyse the ways in which their theoretical orientations are and can be mobilised in particular programs of social research, identifying both the strengths of weaknesses of any given approach in relation to a particular research problem; the ability to communicate effectively an understanding of these sociological paradigms and the questions they examine, both orally and in writing. By the end of this module, students will be able to understand, explain and use the work of a number of approaches in relation to a variety of sociological issues, problems and topics; understand how the conceptual orientations of a variety of approaches to sociological questions relate to each other, combined with the capacity to assess each perspective's strengths and weaknesses; effectively communicate that understanding of a variety of perspectives in sociological analysis, both orally and in writing; research a particular topic by using a specific paradigm to address a particular issue, problem or case study, identify and develop a focused argument concerning that research, and write it up as an effective and persuasive essay.The aims and objectives of the unit are consistent with the generic attributes of graduates identified by the College of Human Sciences and offer students the opportunity to work towards improving their skills in all five areas of: research and inquiry, information literacy, personal and intellectual autonomy, ethical, social and professional understanding, and communication.

Indicative Module Content:

- How to theorize culture and society
- Modern foundations of cultural sociology (Weber and Durkheim)
- Social anthropology and cultural analysis: the Durkheimians
- Semiotics, rhetoric, pragmatics
- Different national traditions and paradigms: Germany, France, UK, America and beyond

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Autonomous Student Learning


Seminar (or Webinar)




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
- lectures and seminars;
- group discussions and student presentations
- self-directed learning 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:


Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Presentation: < Description > Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: 3,500 words Week 12 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback will be provided on assessed coursework after seminars/lectures and/or in person during office hours as appropriate.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Tues 15:00 - 16:50