Module Provider: School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
Number of credits: 40 [20 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Dawn Clarke

Email: d.clarke@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
The aim of this module is to introduce students to the key theories, methods and topics within sociology. To critically appraise the development of key institutions within society, and provide a sociological perspective to social problems within society.

The aim of this module is to introduce students to the key theories, methods and topics within sociology. To critically appraise the development of key institutions within society, and apply a sociological perspective to social processes, social relationships and social problems within society.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the completion of the module the student will be expected to:
a.Be able to identify common themes within sociology such as culture, identity, social class, gender and ethnicity, structure and action, the nature of a social group, and to be able to apply these to module topics such as the Family, Crime and Deviance, etc.
b.Be able to identify the differences between a sociological explanation and psychological and biological explanations.
c.Critically appraise sociological theories including Functionalism, Marxism and Symbolic Interactionism;
d.Understand what is meant by the scientific method, the nature of hypothesis testing, causality and correlation, be able to distinguish between Positivism and Interpretivism,
e.Understand sociological research techniques including primary research methods such as questionnaires, interviews and observational methods. They should also be able to distinguish between these methods and secondary methods such as content analysis, official statistics, etc.
f.Demonstrate the skills of evaluation, analysis and synthesis and show an ability to present a critical argument with relevance, clarity and coherence.

Additional outcomes:
a. Critically understand historical and contemporary social problems;
b. Apply sociological thinking to every aspect of social life.

Outline content:
Content is indicative and may be subject to minor changes:
The module is designed to introduce students to the different ways that sociologists think about the social world and the research strategies that they have developed in order to investigate social issues and social problems. They will be shown how to apply this knowledge to a number of selected sociological topics.

In the first term, students are introduced to core concepts such as culture, identity, socialisation, and social roles. A number of research techniques will be learned by way of practical classes, and these will include questionnaires, interviews and observation techniques. In addition, students will be introduced to other core topics within sociology, such as the family..

In the second term, students will learn about key sociological perspectives such as Functionalism, Marxism, Symbolic Interactionism and Postmodernism and they will be shown the links between positivism and the scientific method and Interpretivism and qualitative research. They will also study mass media and crime and deviance.

The third term will comprise crime and deviance and practical workshops on theory and method.

Global context:
Students will be encouraged to make links to their own and other countries.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The module will involve three weekly lectures to be followed by a mixture of:
a. Weekly seminar/tutorials;
b. Research practicals.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 44 44 20
Seminars 11 11 5
Tutorials 11 11 5
Guided independent study 98 98 42
Total hours by term 164.00 164.00 72.00
Total hours for module 400.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 40
Class test administered by School 10

Other information on summative assessment:
Two pieces of coursework and two in-house end of term tests in December and March.

Formative assessment methods:
2 end of term tests (1.5 hours each test).

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    Two three-hour examinations in June.

    Requirements for a pass:

    Reassessment arrangements:
    By written examination only in August / September (two three-hour examination papers).

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding: There may be optional costs associated with photocopying or printing sources listed on the reading list relating to this module. Please note that the Library charges approximately 5p per photocopy.
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 6 April 2017

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