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SP10043: Understanding society: Britain in global context

[Page last updated: 04 August 2021]

Academic Year: 2021/2
Owning Department/School: Department of Social & Policy Sciences
Credits: 6 [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 120
Level: Certificate (FHEQ level 4)
Semester 1
Assessment Summary: CW 20%, PF 80%
Assessment Detail:
  • Assessment Group N: CW 20% (Non Social Work) (CW 20%)
  • Assessment Group S: CW 20% (Social Work) (CW 20% - Qualifying Mark: 40)
  • Assessment Group N: PF 80% (non Social Work) (PF 80%)
  • Assessment Group S: PF 80% (Social Work) (PF 80% - Qualifying Mark: 40)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Aims: This unit introduces students to sociological accounts of the nature and recent evolution of British society in the context of transnational/global processes and changes, and the main social divisions in society (in particular, class, gender, and race). The unit aims to:
* Foster an understanding of sociological approaches to the study of society;
* Introduce arguments about the nature of capitalist society;
* Enable students to understand the main social divisions in society;
* Enable students to identify the contribution of sociology to understanding both socio-historical change and other modes of popular and intellectual analysis and belief;
* Provide an understanding of the nature of sociological accounts of social divisions and public issues;
* Help students begin to recognise the meaning and utility of key theoretical terms and ideas on which the study of societies is based.

Learning Outcomes: By the end of the unit, students should be able to understand the general scope and significance of sociology as an academic and applied discipline and how to apply this to capitalist societies today; identify the basic principles underlying its mode of analysis; and recognise the origins and interactions between key socio-cultural change and the study of society. These will include historical processes underlying capitalist industrial and modern societies and the major sociological approaches to the fundamental issues brought about by such changes.

Skills: Intellectual skills
Knowledge of British society in the contemporary period
Knowledge of how transnational processes have influenced western and other societies
Knowledge of how this differs from 'common sense'
Knowledge of different conceptions of 'society'
Knowledge of key debates around inequalities and social divisions, including class, gender and race/ethnicity
Knowledge of sociological approaches to contemporary social issues and key subfields within sociology
Knowledge of the relationship between Sociology and other cognate disciplines.
Transferable/Key skills
To think creatively and analytically.
To communicate an argument.
To evaluate others' arguments and research.
To critically evaluate and assess research and evidence as well as a variety of other information.
To gather information, data, research and literature from a number of different sources (i.e. library, web-based, archives etc.).
To synthesise information from a number of sources in order to gain a coherent understanding.
Essay research, preparation and writing skills
Understanding of how to apply knowledge and concepts from across various social sciences disciplines
Study and Learning skills (note taking, avoiding plagiarism, using the library, gathering and using information, constructing a bibliography, referencing)

Content: Teaching and learning on this course falls into two parts: sociological perspectives on British society and how it has transformed in the recent past, and case studies of major areas/subfields of sociological research . Each part of the unit will also relate and point to more in-depth units that can be taken in subsequent years.
1. The first part of the unit examines how sociology relates to common sense and science, and to the notion of 'social problems'. It then focuses on sociological accounts of British society, asking questions such as: Who holds power in Britain, and how has this changed? What social divisions are there in society and in what ways are they important? (including material on class, gender, and race/ethnicity/religion).
2. The second part of the unit introduces key case studies on various dimensions of British society which also correspond to key subfields in sociology - for example: media, war and terrorism, health, democracy, globalization, death, science, and technology, family, crime, climate change.

Programme availability:

SP10043 is a Designated Essential Unit on the following programmes:

Department of Social & Policy Sciences
  • UHSP-AFB15 : BSc(Hons) Social Work and Applied Social Studies (Year 1)
  • UHSP-AFB04 : BSc(Hons) Sociology (Year 1)
  • UHSP-AKB04 : BSc(Hons) Sociology with Year long work placement (Year 1)
  • UHSP-AFB10 : BSc(Hons) Sociology and Social Policy (Year 1)
  • UHSP-AKB10 : BSc(Hons) Sociology and Social Policy with Year long work placement (Year 1)

SP10043 is Compulsory on the following programmes:

Department of Social & Policy Sciences
  • UHSP-AFB14 : BSc(Hons) Applied Social Studies (Year 1)
  • UHSP-AFB16 : BSc(Hons) Social Policy (Year 1)
  • UHSP-AKB16 : BSc(Hons) Social Policy with Year long work placement (Year 1)
  • UHSP-AFB05 : BSc(Hons) Social Sciences (Year 1)
  • UHSP-AKB05 : BSc(Hons) Social Sciences with Year long work placement (Year 1)

SP10043 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Psychology


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2021/22 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2022/23 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2021/22.
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