SOC8034 : Social Divisions and Inequality

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


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 how these interact.

More specifically, the module objectives are:

(a) To explore different empirical forms of division and inequality in society (for example, class, gender, ethnicity, age, health, disability, religion, nationality, sexuality, material deprivation) and how they interact. The module will examine a range of social divisions and inequalities in contemporary society, and how they intersect. It draws on theories and empirical studies around a number of cases (such as class, gender and ‘race’) to consider how sociology approaches and understands social inequalities.

(b) To examine relevant perspectives in the literature and evaluate empirical studies of various social divisions (including, where relevant, issues in social policy and media representation).

(c) To examine various theoretical models of social division, for example post-Marxist, post-modernist, systemic and structural-functionalist.

Outline Of Syllabus

Seminar/Lecture 1: Introducing theoretical perspectives on 'Social Division'.

Seminars 2 to 9: Each session will major on one social division from class, gender, ethnicity, nationality, age, sexuality, childhood, disability, poverty, community and health.

Lecture 10: 'Social Division' revisited: re-theorising structural inequality.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture22:004:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching82:0016:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study180:0080:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures focus on the key issue: social division. They start the module by outlining alternative perspectives in which 'social divisions' have been conceptualised and then, at the end of the module, draw together material into a more advanced analysis than was possible at the start.

The seminars allow students the opportunity to explore a series of social divisions and to take the lead role in discussing one of these. All students will use the required reading for that session as their starting point each week and be expected to be familiar with its content. The student 'seminar leader(s)' for each seminar will be expected to lead discussion not only of that material, but also to link it to further reading and an exploration of the topic that they have carried out. Students are unlikely to have a detailed knowledge of all of the topic areas and will be encouraged to engage with those areas of the syllabus with which they are less familiar in order to broaden their knowledge base. All seminars will examine trends over time as well as contemporary patterns of social inequalities, draw on classical and contemporary theories, and reflect on contemporary media representations. Formative feedback on the seminars will assist students with their summative formal assessment in the essay.

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

The essay will allow students to develop their written and analytic skills alongside their empirical and theoretical knowledge of the subject, to demonstrate their detailed knowledge gained about a selected social division, to reflect on contemporary issues in social policy and media representation, to compare this with their broader knowledge of other social division, and theorise their empirical knowledge in terms of social division.

Reading Lists