SOC-10014 - Classical Sociology
Coordinator: Shuang Qiu Room: CBA1.032
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 4
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office:

Programme/Approved Electives for 2023/24


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2023/24

The purpose of this module is to introduce students to the thought of the classical sociologists of the 19th century - Marx, Weber, Durkheim and Simmel, as well as other voices. These theorists were critical in establishing sociology as an academic and critical discipline in the nineteenth century.
Apart from considering the central works and key ideas of these foundational sociologists, we also focus on the enormous changes that took place in the historical period we call modernity and how this influenced the origins of the discipline, the focus of its investigations, the methods employed to investigate society, and the concepts produced to understand and explain it.
The introductory sessions will provide an historical, technological, social, political and economic contextualisation of the origins of sociology and introduce students to the idea of thinking sociologically.
Indicative lecture and tutorial topics:
How did Sociology develop as a subject? What did it have to say about the nature of modernity? What is distinctive about modernity? What is the relationship between sociology and modernity?
Why do we still study classical social theory? Are classical approaches still relevant today? Why read the classics today?

The Origins of Sociology, The Enlightenment and Modernity
Karl Marx: Class and Communism
Karl Marx; Alienation;
Max Weber and the Protestant Ethic;
Max Weber: Rationality and Methodological Individualism;
Emile Durkheim and the Division of Labour;
Emile Durkheim and Anomie;
Georg Simmel: Money, the Individual and Urban Sociology;
Other Voices: Du Bois and Perkins Gilman.

To familiarise students with the classical sociology of the 19th century (Marx, Weber, Durkheim and others)
To enable students to critically examine these thinkers key works and understand how they relate to sociological conceptions of historical change expressed by notions such as feudalism and modernity
To explore the impact these writers had on future research and assess the degree to which their analyses and findings remain relevant to contemporary society.

Talis Aspire Reading List
Any reading lists will be provided by the start of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes

conform to key academic conventions, reflect on own performance, and present materials in a coherent fashion: 1,2
rehearse classical social theories and ways of theorizing: 1,2
formulate connections between sociology and modernity, in terms of conceptual links and an awareness of related historical developments: 1,2
question the role of sociological theory, recognising that theorizing is a means of simplifying complexity: 1,2
recognise that the consequences of theorizing inevitably creates new uncertainties and complexities: 1,2
identify specific sociological agendas and discriminate between sociological and common-sense views: 1,2

Study hours

11 contact hours (lectures)
11 contact hours (seminars)
44 hours of asynchronous online activity to include engagement with key readings, note-taking, and video content
84 hours examine preparation, additional reading, writing, and group working

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Presentation weighted 20%
Group Presentation
Students will work in a group to research, write, and deliver a 10-minute oral and visual presentation about one foundational theory/ist in sociology. The mark is based on the presentation in class. Each member of the group will receive the same mark. The visual presentation (e.g. PowerPoint) will be uploaded to Turnitin where the grade and feedback will be provided

2: Open Book Examination weighted 80%
28-hour Open Book Exam
A list of questions (about 10 in total) will be provided. Students need to select one question from the top 5 and another one from the bottom 5. The total word count is 1500. The time available to complete this assessment is 28 hours but students would normally not be expected to invest more than 2 hours of active-working time on this assessment. This is normally from 9 am (local time) on the first working day until 1 pm (local time) on the second working day.