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Unit information: Understanding Culture in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Understanding Culture
Unit code SPAIM0041
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Raphael Nowak
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 aims to introduce students to key issues within the sociology of culture, offering an overview of particular approaches to understanding culture as well as investigations into specific spheres of culture such as literature or popular music. It considers how culture came to be understood as a distinct sphere of human activity within modernity and how understandings of culture have changed as modernity has progressed, questioning whether and how long-standing cultural categorisations such as high/low and production/ consumption remain relevant in contemporary society.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Intended Learning Outcomes On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to: • Critically engage with key historical and conceptual approaches in the sociology of culture • demonstrate understanding of the differing nature and social position of culture in modernity and postmodernity • critically evaluate the relationship between cultural production and cultural consumption within specific cultural spheres

Teaching Information

1 x 2 hour seminar per week.

Assessment Information

There will be a) an optional 1500 formative assessment in the form of an essay or equivalent assignment, plus b) summative assessment in the form of a 4000 word essay. These assess all learning outcomes.

Reading and References

Theodor Adorno, 1990, The Culture Industry, London: Routledge. Alexander, V. 2003. The Sociology of the Arts: Exploring Fine and Popular Forms Oxford: Wiley Blackwell. Terry Eagleton, 2001, The Idea of Culture, Oxford: Blackwell. Ken Gelder, 2005, The Subcultures Reader, London: Routledge. David Harvey, 1990 The Condition of Postmodernity, Oxford: Blackwell. John Storey, 2012, Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: An Introduction, London: Pearson.