Study Abroad and Exchanges



SOC2058 : Understanding Social Change and Transformation

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


"This module explores the ideas and events that have shaped the emergence and development of sociology and examines the enduring relationship between sociological thought and social change. It provides the main introduction to key perspectives, debates and theorists in sociology and social theory at Stage 2. It aims to show how sociology has conceptualised and theorised social change - and how, at the same time, social transformations have shaped and reshaped the discipline.
Key module aims:
1. To introduce students to some of the core and enduring concerns and concepts in sociological thought;

2. To introduce students to the work of classical theorists and their continued relevance today; to examine founding themes and historical developments in theory in the light of their continuing relevance for the understanding of culture and society; to consider new developments in sociological thoughts.

3. To develop students’ understanding of the connections between theoretical concerns in anthropology and sociology.

4. To promote students' competence in working with historical and comparative examples.

5. To ensure that students have an understanding of the epistemological aspects of theory along with its methodological implications."

Outline Of Syllabus

"This module introduces students to the key ideas and concerns that have made and remade the discipline of sociology, paying particular attention to the relationship between social theories and social change. We use the idea of the theoretical challenge of modernity as a framework for our explorations. We begin, then, with the 'classical' sociological theorists - Marx, Weber and Durkheim. We examine their attempts to describe and analyse the enormous transformations that we associate with the emergence of modern (industrial, capitalist, rational, technological, urban) societies, and to conceptualise and critically engage with the dynamics of these new social worlds.

The module goes on to consider how both societies and sociological thought have changed since the classical thinkers. We consider how early sociology was marked by the social experiences and assumptions of its founders and explore the limits and problems of the universalist epistemologies to which they laid claim. We look at how later thinkers - especially Foucault, feminists, and postmodernists - have challenged modern assumptions, reflecting on changing times, drawing attention to what the classical thinkers missed or misconceived, and in the process transforming sociological theory.

Social theory has never been exclusive to sociology, and the relationship between sociology and anthropology is important in this respect. In some years this module will look closely at anthropological perspectives and concerns in relation to the themes of modernity, social thought and social transformation.

Each year the module will focus selectively on some of the following themes:
• The theoretical challenge of modernity: history, enlightenment and the birth of ‘society’ and ‘culture’.

• Modernism as response to modernity. The problems of social order and socal change.
• The theoretical challenge of modernity: Marx., Weber Durkheim
• The structure /agency problem. Relationships between biography, history and society
• Theorising everyday life
• The theoretical challenge of non-industrial, non-western society.
• Modernity’s self-critique: challenging the principles of modernity: Foucault, Bourdieu, feminism.
• The theoretical challenge of colonialism and empire.
• The theoretical challenge of postmodernism."

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical12:002:00A 90 min mock exam plus discussion time as assessment prep
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures focus on different approaches to social theory, organised around the broad theme of theorising change and major kinds of social, cultural or political transformation. They examine canonical and contemporary theories which have been central in both sociology and anthropology. The module’s structure as well as lecture content closely maps onto learning outcomes and ensures these are met. The seminars are organised around exploring both major theorists and particular significant themes in sociology.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A50Unseen
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M502000 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MMock exam of 90 minutes, together with a whole group Q and A session of 30 minutes.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

SOC2058 will test different ways of learning through essays and exams, split 50-50 between the two.

Reflecting moves to standardise a resit assessment strategy within GPS, the resit will be 100% formal examination. Duration 3 hours.

'An alternative form of assessment will be set for exchange students from non-English speaking home institutions replacing the examination. The alternative form of assessment is set in accordance with the University Assessment tariff'.

Reading Lists