Sociology

Sociology has been taught at Keele for over 50 years and we are proud of our approach to the discipline that combines a recognition of the need to understand the tradition of the subject with a focus on creativity, innovation, and problem solving in real world social situations. We are strongly committed to the provision of an intellectually challenging and supportive space of learning and teaching that can enable students to think creatively and critically about the social world and develop skills that will be valuable in the world of work and beyond in their personal lives. In order to ensure that our teaching is live, and that it engages with current social concerns relevant to students, our practice is based in our internationally recognised research and engagement with the wider sociological community. This means that our students are taught by research active staff who are engaged in exploring the contemporary social world in the context of a subject that is characterised by the need to solve pressing social issues on both a local and global scale.

Sociology at Keele has a long and distinguished history. The Department was formed in the 1960s by the social anthropologist Professor Ronnie Frankenberg who famously wrote ‘Village on the Border’ on decision making processes in a Welsh village and ‘Communities in Britain’.

Book cover of village on the border Frankenberg was a member of the Manchester School of Social Anthropology and a student of Max Gluckman who is most famous for his work, ‘Custom and Conflict in Africa’, and his contribution to conflict theory. On the basis of this foundation, Keele Sociology has always had a strong tradition of inter-disciplinary and a particular interest in the fields of anthropology, community and family studies, and cultural sociology. This history informs the focus of the current Sociology group, which is centrally concerned with charting contemporary cultural social change through a range of theoretical approaches. Apart from its anthropological and cultural focus, Sociology at Keele has historically adopted an innovative, student-centred, approach to learning and teaching. In the 1970s the Department adopted an elective system that entailed students designing their own option modules which tutors would then lead. The philosophy behind this approach to teaching and learning, which ensured that course content was in line with student interest and concerned with cutting edge concerns in the discipline, still informs the design of the Sociology programme at Keele today. Centrally, we are concerned with understanding contemporary social events through cutting edge research and upholding the tradition of innovation that is embedded in the history of Sociology at Keele.  

Keele University also hosts the prestigious journal, The Sociological Review, one of the longest running Sociology journals in the world, and holds the Foundations of British Sociology archive. This is a unique resource held in Keele University Library’s Special Collections and Archives. The material dates from the 1880s to the 1950s and consists of papers from the Sociological Society, LePlay House, the Institute of Sociology and several smaller subsidiary groups - all part of the early sociology movement in Britain.

Given the history of Sociology at Keele, which is based in a recognition of the need to understand tradition and enable innovation and creativity, our students consistently rank the subject highly in the National Student Survey exceeding 90% satisfaction. This is supported by what our students tell us about the quality of the programme.

If you would like to know more about Sociology at Keele, please browse our website or take a look at our social media pages:

Alternatively, you can contact us to ask a question.  

Dr Emma Head
Director of Programmes in Sociology

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