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SOC8072 : Social Divisions and Inequality

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Tracy Shildrick
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


The aim of the module is to examine and understand a range of social divisions and inequalities in society, through use of macro-sociological theories and recent empirical studies drawn mainly from the UK, and student will explore how these interact.

More specifically, the module objectives are:

(a)       To explore different empirical forms of division and inequality in contemporary society. There will be a specific focus on economic inequalities and how these intersect with wider dimensions of inequality (for example, class, gender, ethnicity, age, health, disability, religion, nationality, sexuality, poverty).

(b) Use current empirical examples to explore how ideas about how inequality are shaped, both by the media and broader political discourse. The module aims to get students to think critically about the relationship between wider discourses around inequality and to think about how these can be challenged with empirical evidence.

(C) To think about the ways in which social policies are created, for example, austerity policies, and to explore how social policies themselves also work to shape wider opinions towards various forms of inequality

(d) Weave throughout an understanding of different theoretical models of social division, for example post-Marxist, post- modernist, systemic and structural-functionalist.

Outline Of Syllabus

Week 1: Introducing theoretical perspectives on 'Social Division'.
Week 2: Explores economic inequality in the UK
Week 3: Introduces the concept of intersectionality as a key shift in sociological understandings of social division which is then used across the remaining sessions.
Week 4: Austerity politics, social policy formation and the shaping of public opinion
Week 5-10: Each session will major on one social division from gender, ‘race’ and ethnicity, age, sexuality and disability, but will examine each through an intersectional lens.
Week 11: 'Social Divisions and Inequality' revisited: as a group, we work through the significance of how sociology researches social divisions and what this might mean for wider society and our approach to inequality.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00Face to face, group sessions each week
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops21:002:00Online workshops
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1176:00176:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship


Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Case study1A100N/A
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The case study will allow students to develop their written and analytic skills alongside their empirical and theoretical knowledge of the subject. They will select their own individual topics (reflecting their own specific interests) and be able to demonstrate detailed critical knowledge about the specific topic. Within all the case studies there is an expectation that students reflect on contemporary issues in social policy and media representation around inequality, and compare this with their broader knowledge of other social divisions.

Reading Lists