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Unit information: Key Social Thinkers in 2016/17

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Unit name Key Social Thinkers
Unit code SOCI10006
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. McLennan
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 is an introduction to classical sociological theory, focusing on the 'founding fathers' of the discipline of sociology. Key topics likely to be addressed include the writings of Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim and George Simmel. Challenges to the tradition will also be considered, along with the legacy of the classical tradition for the contemporary world and for contemporary sociology.


  • To introduce students to key writings in classical sociological theory.
  • To outline problems with and challenges to the idea of a ‘classical tradition’ in sociology.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to

  • Demonstrate understanding of the context of the emergence of classical sociology (1)
  • Demonstrate understanding of key writings in classical sociological theory (2)
  • Demonstrate awareness of key challenges and limitations of the idea of the “classical tradition” (3)

Teaching Information

1 x 2hr lecture and 1 hour seminar.

Assessment Information

  • 1500 word essay for formative development
  • Two hour examination (assessing LOs 1, 2, and 3)

Reading and References

  • Calhoun, C. 2002, Classical Sociological Theory, Oxford: Blackwell
  • Craib, I. 1997 Classical Social Theory, Oxford:OUP
  • Giddens, A. 1973 Capitalism And Modern Social Theory, Cambridge:CUP
  • Morrison, K. 2006, Marx, Durkheim and Weber, London:Sage
  • Tucker, K. 2001, Classical Social Theory: A Contemporary Approach, Oxford: Blackwell
  • Turner, B. 1999, Classical Sociology, London:Sage