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SOC3049 : States of Mind: Sociology and Mental Health

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Ruth Graham
  • 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 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


The aims of this module are to

- explore the topic of mental health as a focus of sociological inquiry;
- understand the ways in which sociological perspectives can enhance conceptualisations of mental health as socially, culturally and historically located phenomena;
- apply sociological perspectives to critically interrogate understandings of mental health and wellbeing.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module focuses on the application of sociological theory and concepts to critically examine understandings of mental health issues as socially contextualized phenomena. The module draws heavily on ideas developed in the sub-discipline of Sociology of Health and Illness, but also draws on related work beyond this, including for example work on historical sociology, the sociology of suffering and the sociology of emotions.

This module includes:

- an overview of the theoretical perspectives most relevant to the field, including in particular the frameworks offered by social constructionism and mad studies, which will provide contrasting perspectives on the ontological, epistemological and methodological debates within sociological work on mental health;

- reflection on the historical development of the ‘psy’ disciplines: psychiatry, psychology and psychoanalysis, and sociological critiques of these developments;

- key debates in the field of sociology of mental health, including social control, inequalities, stigma, survivorship and pharmaceuticalisation;

- case studies on topics that demonstrate the ways in which understandings of mental health are intertwined with socially located conceptualisations of states of mind: badness (e.g. psychopathy), sadness (e.g. medicalization of everyday sadness), difference (e.g. neuro-atypicality) and wellness (e.g. positive wellbeing).

Due to the nature of the module content, discussion of sensitive topics is a routine part of this module. Strategies for dealing with these topics in teaching sessions will be explored at the start of the module.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00Includes preparation time for both assessments on the module
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture102:0020:00In person lectures
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials31:003:00online non-synchronous lecture materials
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture21:002:00In person lectures
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading133:0033:00= 3 hours per teaching week for pre-reading / follow up reading relating to taught sessions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00In person seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops42:008:00In person workshops
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study190:0090:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Formal lectures and online, pre-recorded content will provide routeways through a complex literature, introducing you to key concepts, theories and examples.

Workshops and seminars will provide you with opportunities to consolidate your understanding of complex ideas, and to further develop your learning through synthesis, in discussion and active learning exercises. Formative assessment tasks are embedded in the workshops.

Directed reading - the weekly structured reading lists in the module guide will give you an indication of essential readings, alongside a selection of additional reading that you can select from to tailor your directed reading towards your particular interests, but remain engaged with the structure of the module teaching.

Independent study and assessment preparation/completion - the weekly structured reading lists also provide 'further reading' to guide you towards additional relevant literature for your more independent study time.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M301200 word short essay
Report2M702500 word report
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Prob solv exercises2MFormative assessment tasks are embedded into the workshop session structure
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Assessment one (short essay) will give you an opportunity to develop and clarify your learning on the theoretical developments that underpin sociological scholarship on mental health issues. The work you do for this assessment will help you consolidate your theoretical knowledge from the first few weeks of the module, and should normally feed into your preparation for assessment two.

Assessment two (analytic report) will give you an opportunity to explore a specific case study topic in more depth (you will have a choice of several topics relevant to the content of the module, along with guidance on what is meant by an analytic report). You will be further developing your sociological understanding and skills by applying key theoretical concepts to your case study topic in a more detailed analysis, allowing you to demonstrate a deeper critical evaluation of mental health issues from a sociological perspective.

Formative Assessment tasks are embedded in the structure of the workshop sessions, and further opportunities to explore the assessments are covered in some of the small group seminars.

Reading Lists