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Unit information: Social Networks in 2021/22

Unit name Social Networks
Unit code SOCI30100
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. McAndrew
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will examine the importance of networks for social life and the rise of the ‘network society’. In introductory sessions the unit investigates concepts such as connectedness, social support and homophily (the tendency of ‘birds of a feather to flock together’) as well as how to determine how central someone is to a social network. The remainder of the unit investigates a number of different examples of the study of networks in social life, such as:

• social networks and civic engagement – the apparent trend towards ‘bowling alone’
• the importance of networks for creativity and ‘art worlds’
• how networks are leveraged for career success
• gender and social networks at work
• elites and closed social worlds
• terrorist networks.

Social Network Analysis (SNA) has become more prominent in recent years. It provides a relational perspective compatible with a wide range of theoretical positions, and methods available for studying social networks complement traditional qualitative and quantitative methods. New areas of application include criminal networks, terrorist networks, online networks, cultural networks, and economic networks. Outside sociology, network analysis is used by biologists, psychologists, in economic and business research, and in linguistics. The unit will provide training in analysing social networks using NetDraw, a simple network visualisation program. No prior knowledge of SNA or NetDraw is assumed. Students will be shown how to make lists of links between individuals and how to import these lists to create network diagrams for visual presentation. These practical skills are attractive to employers in a number of sectors, such as digital media agencies, the Civil Service, think tanks, policing, and research organisations.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:

• demonstrate critical engagement with key texts in the study of social relationships and social networks;
• define and critically assess network concepts such as social capital, homophily, centrality, clique, bonding, bridging;
• compile information on social ties from offline or online social networks, and use simple methods to create network diagrams and measures using NetDraw;
• assess claims related to the benefits and risks of bonding and bridging social ties.

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Information

Group work project (25%) take home exam (75%)


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. SOCI30100).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.