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Unit information: Conceptualising the Social in 2021/22

Unit name Conceptualising the Social
Unit code SOCI20016
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Tsilipakos
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

The unit offers an historical overview of the development of post-classical sociological theory such as Functionalism, interactionism and postmodernism, via an exploration of the work of a selection of key sociological theorists such as Talcott Parsons, Antonio Gramsci, Louis Althusser, Anthony Giddens, Pierre Bourdieu, Jurgen Habermas, Judith Butler, Ulrich Beck, Manuel Castells. Key concepts developed by these thinkers are explored in relation to the themes of structure and agency, culture/ideology, and sociological understanding.


  • To introduce students to the key theorists and paradigms of modern sociology
  • To give a coherent and connected account of the way sociological theory has developed in the Twentieth century
  • To encourage a critical and independent approach to theoretical understanding
  • To convey a sense of current debate amongst sociological theorists

Intended Learning Outcomes

a. exposit and analyse a range of schools and thinkers in modern macro-sociology

b. develop a critical account of developments and debates in social theory

c. show familiarity with the key ideas and concepts of a variety of theorists

d. compare and contrast theories and theorists according to specified themes of analysis

Teaching Information

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

Assessment Information

Essay 1 (25%)

Essay 2 (75%)

Both assessments test all Learning outcomes listed above.


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. SOCI20016).

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.