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types of courses

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Aims and Objectives
Why Study Sociology at Reading?

The Sociology degree programme at the University of Reading is designed to provide students: 

  • a general knowledge of sociological theory and methods, and general conceptualisations of social phenomena; 

  • breadth across areas of  sociological inquiry;

  • depth within sub-areas;

  • progression through the discipline.

To achieve these goals, we offer a variety of different courses (both substantive and methodological)

To provide organisation of students' studies and help promote specialisation and depth in part of the discipline, we have organised our courses into clusters—groups of courses united by a common theme. Thus, single-subject Sociology students will take a minimum of ten courses in two clusters. To fulfil a cluster a student in Part II must take the appropriate Core (introduction to that cluster, e.g. Sociology of Culture), three Options in that cluster in Part III, and one Advanced seminar in Part III—for a total of ten courses for two clusters.

To promote progression

  • we keep courses separate by level, i.e., for second and third-year students. Class size and assessment regimes will vary with the course level;
  • we have pre-requisites for some of our courses in each cluster are the pre-requisites for any course in that cluster; check any further pre-requisite for each course.

The separation of courses into different levels (PART II & III) and the organisation of courses into clusters does not apply to current third-year students.


Cores, offered in the second year, are lecture courses that provide general knowledge of a sub-field (cluster) in the discipline. Cores are pre-requisites for most Options and Advanced seminars. Cores are assessed by an end-of-year examination (80% of final grade) and writing assignments (20%).


Options are lecture courses typically offered in the third year (but some in the second year). These courses focus on more specialised or narrower issues, but some are general so as to be taken by students with only introductory knowledge of the discipline (e.g., Youth Culture, Sociology of Media). Options are assessed by an end-of-year examination (60% of final grade) and writing assignments (40%).

Note: Students will take some Options outside of a "cluster," e.g. in Part II or one Option in Methods in Part III. If students have the necessary prerequisites, they may take an Option outside a cluster (so long as cluster requirements are also fulfilled). This promotes breadth (where concentration on clusters provides depth).

Advanced seminars

Seminars follow a seminar format rather than lectures (i.e. rigorous discussion in a single two-hour session). Advanced seminars zoom in on specialised topics or sub-areas of a sub-field (e.g., Death in Contemporary Society, Sociology of Market Transitions). Seminars involve intensive reading, writing, and student participation. Because of this rigorous pedagogy, Advanced seminar enrolment is capped at 12. Seminars are assessed by writing assignments only (100%).


Most courses offered in the department are organized into five area clusters-major fields of sociological inquiry that reflect the research interests of members of staff. The five clusters are:

  • Political Sociology: the study of power, conflict, and change in social structure and politics
  • Economic Sociology: the study of power, culture, and change in economic phenomena, analysed from the perspective of sociological theory
  • Sociology of Culture: the study of how rituals, symbols, and meanings are generated and affect our behaviours and understandings in everyday life
  • Social Organisation: the study of how social life is patterned and organised, whether physically (e.g. religion) or over time (e.g. life course)
  • Research Methods: how social research is carried out-organising research questions and designs to carrying out various forms of inquiry and analysis
Cluster Core Options Advanced Seminars
Political Sociology Political Sociology
  • Nationalism
  • Social Movements
  • Ethnic Conflict
  • The Welfare State in Comparative Perspective
  • Moral Panics
    The Media, and Moral Crusades
  • Power and Social Control
  • Social Change and Revolutions
  • Political Change
  • Democracy and Democratic Transitions


Economic Sociology Economic Sociology
  • Industrial Sociology
  • Sociology of Organisations
  • Globalisation
  • Political Economy
  • East Asian Economies
  • Citizenship, Economy, and Society
  • Sociology of Market Transitions
  • The Political Economy of Migration
  • Entrepreneurship: The Social Science Perspective
  • Sociology of Work and Labour Markets
Sociology of Culture Sociology of Culture
  • Sociology of Art
  • Human Sexualities
  • Sociology of Humour
  • Youth Culture
  • Transatlantic Popular Culture
  • Sociology of Morality: Moral Controversies
  • Advanced Topics in the Sociology of Culture
  • The Sociology of Everyday Life
  • Internet Studies
  • Feminisms


Social Organisation Class and Inequality in Contemporary Society
  • Sociology of Religion
  • Social Boundaries
  • Sociology of Life Course
  • Crime and Society
  • Criminology
  • Sociology of Gender
  • Contemporary European Societies
  • Contemporary American Societies
  • Contemporary Chinese Society
  • Sociology of Death
  • Advanced Topics in Religion
Research Methods Methods 1 & 2

Statistics 1 & 2

  • Ethnographic Methods
  • Interviewing
  • Focus Groups
  • Sampling and Survey
  • Content Analysis
  • Network Analysis
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Multivariate Analysis

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Last Published 08 August 2003