Module Catalogue 2016/17

COM1026 : Introduction to Social and Cultural Studies

  • Offered for Year: 2016/17
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Joss Hands
  • Teaching Assistant: Dr Stephen Walls, Miss Vesela Harizanova
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



1. To allow students to explore culture and society in the context of critical theory.
2. To equip students with critical and analytical skills that enable them to examine some of the key ways that culture is understood, analysed and mobilised across a range of social and geo-political contexts.
3. To facilitate a critical space in which students consider the discourses, representations and relations of power which serve to constitute culture, society, identity, subjectivity and embodiment.

This module introduces students to contemporary Social and Cultural Studies. It explores the history, politics and ethics of Social and Cultural Studies as interdisciplinary fields of study, and invites students to consider the critical implications of some of their most dynamic contemporary debates. The module examines some of the key ways that culture is understood, analysed and mobilised through its analysis of a diverse range of media, social and political sites. We pay particular attention to the links among culture, power, identity, subjectivity and embodiment. Some of the key themes and issues addressed relate to the study of race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and class in the context of postcoloniality, multiculturalism, globalisation, consumer culture and a range of social justice movements.

Outline Of Syllabus

1. This module is aimed at students who are new to the field of cultural studies and/or who have some initial knowledge of the field. The module will encourage students to critically engage with some of the key terms, concepts, ideas, and approaches in Cultural studies.
2. The module will deal with key introductory material about critical theory, methodology and ethics, and will offer some answers to the question, 'what is culture?' The module will answer these questions in relation to seminal texts in cultural studies.
3. In addition, the module will consider and discuss worked examples via up-to-date case study material and will be marked by a strong emphasis on understating how to link ideas and theories to texts, practices, institutions and identities/audiences. The intersection of cultural and social identities will also be emphasised throughout the module.
4. Short, clear accounts will outline and consider key notions of social and cultural studies in terms of way of life, everydayness, practices, and texts.
5. This will be followed by a discussion of what is involved when thinking about human societies from the perspectives of cultural studies. The module will consider certain issues involved in further research and critical inquiry in cultural studies, reflecting local, national and transnational perspectives.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Students will gain:

1.       An understanding and knowledge of the history, politics and ethics of Social and Cultural Studies
2.       A critical awareness of the ways in which culture is differentially constituted through intersections with race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and class across a range of social and geo-political contexts.
3.       An in depth understanding of the different theoretical and conceptual frameworks that can be used to analyse the links among culture, power, identity, subjectivity and embodiment.

Intended Skill Outcomes

It is intended that on completion of the module students will be able to:

1.       Acquire a theoretical vocabulary with which to discuss social and cultural categories, subjectivities and relations of power.
2.       Critically engage with media, cultural, political, institutional and everyday understandings in the area of study.
3.       Exercise their judgement in the most appropriate theoretical and conceptual frameworks to use when analysing social and cultural categories, subjectivities and relations of power.

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Assessed
    • Data Synthesis : Assessed
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Literacy : Assessed
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Assessed
      • Synthesise And Present Materials : Assessed
      • Use Of Computer Applications : Present
  • Self Management
    • Self Awareness And Reflection : Present
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Assessed
      • Written Other : Assessed
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present
      • Peer Assessment Review : Present
  • Application
    • Social Cultural Global Awareness : Assessed

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading120:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00Seminars
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity140:0040:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity120:0020:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study134:0034:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Students tend to find Social and Cultural studies a difficult subject. One of the reasons for this is that it
introduces a different way of looking at the world. Given that the majority of the students come from a wide
disciplinary background, close and sustained support is required. Thus the lectures will provide formal
approaches to the areas that are being looked at whilst students in seminar groups will be able to discuss
and consider some of the more challenging aspects of the programme in more depth. The tutorials provide
students with a pre-arranged drop-in hour every week where they can discuss issues about the
module with staff one-to-one.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M40Essay, 1500 words, mid-semester
Essay2A60Essay, 2500 words, end of semester
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

There are two methods for assessment on this module:

1. A timed assessment mid-semester which is seen but which allows students to demonstrate skills in critical thinking and time management. Questions for this are pre-released and students have 5 days to submit a piece of work, 1,500 words in length.

2. Students will choose an essay title (2,500 words) from a list provided which broadly corresponds to the module outline. This will enable them to gain an understanding of a broad range of perspectives in their chosen area. This will allow them to develop their skills in writing and argument and providing systematic evidence to justify the claims that are being made.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2016/17 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2017/18 entry will be published here in early-April 2017. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.