SOC-20049 - Contemporary Social Theory
Coordinator: James Skinner
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 5
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

Building on the foundations of sociological thinking introduced in year one, this module considers theories that expand our understanding of how individuals and groups co-exist in increasingly complex societies. We begin our survey of contemporary social theories by reflecting on the purpose of theory of itself. What is theory? Why is it necessary to use theory to think about society? By understanding social theory as a means to make sense of our place in the world, we can see how sociological theorists are above all else attempting to locate and address the concerns of the day. We move on to consider how psychoanalysis and symbolic interactionism recognised the impact of social structures on the self, before tracing contemporary social thought from structuralism, which explained how individuals and groups are subject to domination within a symbolic order that imposes meaning upon them, to post-structuralism, which challenged these power structures through the development of alternative positions. The module ends with an exploration of today¿s digital and environmental landscape and considers what a future beyond the human might look like.

- To introduce students to contemporary theoretical approaches in social theory and to locate them within their intellectual context.
- To develop students ability to evaluate sociological ideas in the context of real-life ethical, social, political issues.
- To develop students understandings of the sociological dimensions of theories of society.
- To provide opportunities through discussion and written work in which students may develop their skills of scholarly discussion and exposition of complex ideas.

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

Intended Learning Outcomes

Accurately identify key thinkers, theories, debates and concepts in sociological texts.: 1
Identify contemporary theoretical approaches in social theory and locate them within their intellectual contexts.: 1
Review the sociological dimensions of social theory and formulate theoretically informed questions about the social world.: 1
Explain key concepts in social science, such as structure, agency, truth, and interpretation, and the ways these ideas can be applied to different social contexts.: 1
Critically engage with debates in contemporary social theory and make independent judgements about the strengths and weaknesses.: Critically analyse key concepts in contemporary social theory and distinguish between the major theoretical approaches.: 1

Study hours

20-hours Contact (10 Lectures / 10 Tutorials)
30-hours of structured asynchronous online activity to include engagement with online resources, e.g., key readings, self-assessment quizzes, podcasts, and video content.
30-hours Lecture / Tutorial Preparation
70-hours Assessment Preparation

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Essay weighted 100%
2500 essay
Students should answer one question from a list. Students should draw on their knowledge and understanding of two or more theorists/theoretical perspectives to present an in-depth critical analysis of a sociological topic.