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Programme & Unit Catalogues

SP50136: Theoretical issues in sociology

[Page last updated: 01 August 2022]

Academic Year: 2022/23
Owning Department/School: Department of Social & Policy Sciences
Credits: 6 [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 120
Level: Masters UG & PG (FHEQ level 7)
Semester 1
Assessment Summary: CW 100%
Assessment Detail:
  • Coursework (CW 100%)
Supplementary Assessment:
Like-for-like reassessment (where allowed by programme regulations)
Learning Outcomes: As a result of this unit students will: 1. Have in-depth knowledge of key debates in contemporary social theory. 2. Fully understand and be able to critique key theoretical approaches in contemporary social theory. 3. Be aware of the historical and theoretical background to these theories and debates and be able to place them in the relevant tradition and context. 4. More fully understand how social theory offers insights into current social questions and issues.

Aims: This course examines some of the key contemporary debates in social theory and their relationship to issues raised by classical social theory. The intention is to: 1. Provide students with a sophisticated understanding of some of the current debates in social theory. 2. Help them to understand more fully how abstract concepts and concerns are applied to the study of contemporary society. 3. Encourage an in-depth, critical understanding of these debates and concepts.

Skills: Ability to select, summarise and synthesise written information from a range of social theories. Ability to critically analyse issues and debates in contemporary social theory. Ability to critically compare and contract distinct social theories. Ability to develop rigorous arguments by drawing from the work of a range of social theorists. Ability to explain the significance of these debates for current issues in contemporary society.

Content: The course will focus on some of the key debates in contemporary social theory. It will address the structure-agency debate and will consider issues raised by notions of subjectivity and identity. In locating contemporary debates in their historical context it will highlight connections between current theorists and the work classical theorists such as Marx, Durkheim and Weber. An examination of contemporary theories will include structuration theory, critical social theory, theories of risk society, postmodernity, and the work of social theorists such as Giddens, Habermas, Bourdieu, Foucault, Beck and Baudrillard.

Programme availability:

SP50136 is Compulsory on the following programmes:

Department of Social & Policy Sciences


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2022/23 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2023/24 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2022/23.
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