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SOC8052 : Theories of Society, Power and Politics

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Jan Dobbernack
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


Social theory is an important part of the social sciences in general and, therefore, for the discipline of sociology. However, it can often seem abstract or impenetrable to everyday social concerns. Our aim on this module is to explore social theory by examining the things that we do with society, drawing links between contemporary understandings of society, the operation of power, and the working of politics in diverse settings and domains.

Specific module aims:

•       To explore a range of complementary and conflicting perspectives in critical social theory.

•       To approach critical social theory by examining a range of practical applications and political dilemmas.

•       To understand the relationship between theory and practice in the development of social thought and social theorising.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will consider some or all of the following themes in sessions that each apply concerns in critical social theory to relevant examples and case material:

•       The discovery of 'society' as a domain of social needs and regulation.

•       The 'imagination' of society in social thought and political practice.

•       The development of governmentality and biopolitical power.

•       The operation of power in society across multiple scales and levels.

•       The prominence of ideas about social order, cohesion or integration.

•       The role that values and judgments play in constituting normative social orders.

•       The function of social critique in accounting for the totality of social relations.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion301:0030:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading154:0054:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching82:0016:00Seminar/workshop meetings (PiP)
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Module meetings take the form of workshops that allow for the flexible combination of input, group work, moderated and student-led discussion. The focus of each meeting is on the reading, discussion and application of theory.
Students have the opportunity to explore theoretical and conceptual issues in some depth, to read around the topics, and to marshal sources to advance an argument.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M1002500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Essay format assessment provides the most appropriate method of evaluating students' understanding and conceptualisation of all relevant aspects of social theory in relation to sociology. The essay format assignment gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their interpretive understandings of the topics covered on the module and also gives students the opportunity to develop a piece of work on a topic of their choice in utilising the materials taught.

Reading Lists