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SOC1030 : The Sociological Imagination: An Introduction to the Discipline

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Judy Richards
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The main aim of this module is to introduce students to the subject of Sociology – combining the study of its theoretical, substantive and empirical aspects, to develop an awareness of its relevance for contemporary social life and within the social sciences. This involves students encountering the foundations of sociology (theories, processes and structures), its key concepts, and their application to the study of social institutions and social divisions.

We will explore questions like: what are the differences between the micro and the macro levels of social life? What are the distinctions between the public and the private, and how do they blur into each other? What does it mean to say that an approach is taking an essentialist view or a social constructed one? What are the implications of believing that social structures do not allow individuals to decide what they can do and achieve? How do norms, regulations, networks and social relations organize social order or spark conflict in contemporary societies? What is ‘everyday life’ and common sense understanding? What is the relevance of ‘experience’ to understanding social relations?

The Sociological Imagination module interweaves the study of these concepts with an examination of crucial social institutions that organize social life. On a broader level, the module is also intended to help students enlarge their awareness of everyday life and enable them to develop a critical understanding of contemporary social issues and problems.

Outline Of Syllabus

The first part of the module will introduce students to the discipline of Sociology by highlighting its relevance to twenty-first century societies. We will discuss what Sociology is and what sociologists do; the history and development of the discipline and its key figures; the importance of developing a sociological imagination, and the debates around the role of Sociology in the contemporary world. The second part of the module will explore key sociological concepts alongside sociological institutions. In laying out the core issues for understanding the social, we will explore and critique a variety of dichotomies that have been at the centre of sociological thinking such as macro/micro, public/private, essentialism/constructivism, structure/agency and order/conflict; and other concepts such as everyday life, experience, social cooperation, order, networks. We will interweave the study of these concepts with an examination of crucial social institutions that organize social life such as education, work, the family, the media, religion, social movements, and emerging platforms that are becoming institutionalized such as social media and the internet. The third and final part of the module will explore theoretical and conceptual issues through a focus on the notions of power and social divisions. Here, we will introduce crucial dimensions that organize, divide and structure social life, such as gender, class and race, illustrating them with empirical examples.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00Assessment workshop, assignment feedback surgery
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are used to introduce students to the scope of the subject, theoretical perspectives, and empirical evidence. They provide the narrative thread around which students’ own reading should take place. Seminars are organised to encourage students to explore their developing understanding of the discipline of Sociology, and to discuss how this understanding might be applied to analyses of specific cases and examples. Two workshops are designed to enable students to prepare for the module assessment through group work and discussion. Guided independent study includes lecture, seminar and assessment preparation and completion; independent study; directed research and reading; and skills practice.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A50Seen Exam
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M502,000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay assignment is particularly connected to the learning outcomes associated with developing knowledge about theoretical perspectives and key concepts/concerns in Sociology. In terms of skills, it will also aid the development of critical thinking, exploring a topic in some depth by requiring the students to read around the topic as well as draw from and organize resources to develop an argument. The essay will also help enhance students’ writing skills.

The seen exam obliges students to think on their feet and produce succinct arguments when answering two questions. The exam will also test students’ knowledge of applying sociological theory and concepts/concerns particularly in relation to understanding social divisions in society and comprehending various social institutions and how they work sociologically. In terms of skills, it will also aid the development of critical thinking and critically examining texts, and help enhance students’ writing skills (i.e. being able to present complex ideas in a written form within a defined period of time).

Reading Lists