Investigating Social Worlds
This module introduces you to philosophical debates on the production of knowledge about the social world, examining the interlocking philosophical and ethical problems that can arise when the methods of the natural sciences are applied to the study of the social world.
It then introduces two of the major research traditions within the social sciences, positivism and interpretavism and explores their links to some basic methods of data gathering employed in the social sciences, including survey methods, interviewing, and observation.
You will be given opportunities to gain some preliminary practical experience of working with a variety of sources and methods.
Understanding Contemporary Society
This module introduces you to a range of approaches in social analysis. Through introductions to key concepts, theorists and research studies in the disciplines of sociology, cultural studies and social policy, you will be equipped with the skills necessary for more advanced study of contemporary society.
Four introductory modules which could include one from another school.
Culture, Identities and Deviance
The module outlines key theoretical approaches and concepts associated with the analysis of culture, identities and deviance. It introduces these topics through a series of case studies.
This module lays the foundations for further study by looking at the development of criminology as a discipline before going on to consider how crime is defined and counted, and investigate the sources of criminological knowledge.
The main focus of the module is on key theoretical perspectives in criminology, and how they help us to understand and explain different kinds of criminal behaviour from 'juvenile delinquency' to state crime, 'hate crime' to terrorism (and society's responses to them).
Global Studies and Human Rights
The module outlines key theoretical approaches and concepts associated with the analysis of processes of globalisation (social, economic and political) and their implications for human rights. It introduces these topics through a series of case studies.
Policy and Social Justice
This module introduces you to the main areas of social policy in the United Kingdom. The module first explores the concepts of policy, justice and key theories in policy and welfare as well as resourcing.
The module then goes on to examine the role of the family in welfare provision, and the operation of key public sector services (housing, NHS, social care, social security).
Society, Health and Environment
The module introduces you to the sociological analysis of some most exciting (and frightening!) issues and decisions of our time, including climate change, genetic engineering, epidemics from AIDS to malaria, and nuclear power. There is hype and hope, fear and alarm. Societies and individuals have to navigate ways of living with and through these challenges.
Sociologists can explore the socio-cultural meaning and implications of risks and the political and ethical dilemmas they produce. After successful completion of the module you will:
- have an understanding of key concepts and the main theoretical approaches about science and technology and how they interact with society
- have developed an understanding of empirical cases where science and technology play an important part, especially in the field of health and environment
- be able to critically discuss key contributions in this field of study
Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory
This module examines selected work by major 19th and 20th century social theorists in relation to three main themes:
- What were the major arguments and conceptual innovations introduced by classical sociologists?
- How can classical sociological theory illuminate contemporary social debates?
- On what grounds should certain thinkers be described as 'classical'? What determines whether or not a theorist belongs to the canon of sociological thought? How does social and political context shape the development of sociological theory?
Research Design and Practice
This module introduces you to the principles of research design and research ethics in relation to both quantitative and qualitative research, and provides you with some experience of survey methods and of qualitative research methods in social research.
Four optional modules which could include one module from another school.
We offer a wide variety of optional modules in criminology, quantitative research methods, social policy, and sociology, which provide an opportunity to focus on an area of study that particularly interests you. Optional modules anticipated to be available to our students include:
Applied Ethics and Society
The module will explore the application of moral philosophy and applied ethics to various social issues including, but not limited to, addiction, abortion, euthanasia, migration and global justice.
It will review the main ideas and theorists from the fields of consequentialism, deontology and virtue ethics and it will introduce students to the contemporary state of various socially and ethically problematic topics.
Belief, Spirituality and Religion
This module examines the key sociological issues and debates in relation to the religion/spirituality and non-religious belief systems.
They include: transformation of religion, the spiritual revolution, fundamentalism, atheism, secularism, scientism, freedom of expression vs. sanctity of religion, religious dress, religion/spirituality and sexuality, religion/spirituality and youth, religion/spirituality and consumerism.
The Body, The Self and Others
This module explores the ways in which social identities and subjectivities can be created, maintained and expressed through the body and with reference to 'Others'. It particularly considers the following:
- Existing sociological theories of identity and 'Otherness'
- The sociologies of various 'geographies' of the body, including the sociology of food and diet; body modification and adornment; extreme sport
- Presentations of 'self' through work, especially 'bodywork'
- The corporeal 'mapping' of class, gender, ethnicity and sexuality
- Surveillance discourses and the Foucauldian body
Ethnicity, 'Race' and Everyday Life
This module examines the intersection of three key concepts in contemporary sociology - ethnicity 'race' and everyday life. It particularly considers the following:
- Existing sociological theories of everyday life concerning its political relevance and historical specificity as well as methodological issues as to how 'the everyday' has been researched
- Sociological models of ethnicity and 'race', the construction of ethnic boundaries and identities, the relationship between 'culture' and 'ethnicity', and its relevance in the contemporary world
- A series of empirical case studies illustrating the experience and complexities of ethnic and racial identities in the realm of everyday life
Families and Social Divisions
This module considers sociological approaches to the family ranging from early functionalist accounts to the feminist problematisation of such accounts. Attention will be paid to the ideological construction of the family and the role of social divisions in shaping family life.
Starting from feminist critiques of the family the first part of the module will explore issues of gender, power and patriarchy. Drawing on second-wave feminism, the second part of the module will consider issues of diversity in family practices.
Topics covered will include gender and families; families and class; families and race; migrant and transnational families,; sexuality; age and generation. Contemporary debates around the breakdown, democratisation or continuity in contemporary families will also be addressed.
Health: Theory, Policy and Practice
The module will explore the meanings of health and how these meanings have impacted upon policy and practice and health services. This will focus upon both sociological and policy literature.
The focus of the module is very much upon contemporary debate and the way these debates inform health risks and service provision.
History of British Social Policy
How has the nature of social provision been conceptualised over time? How much continuity and how much change has there been in our social welfare system?
This module offers a critical review of some of the key issues in the development of British social policy, including the shift from the Poor Law to an income maintenance scheme, the impact of philanthropy and the changing role of the State in the 20th century.
Human and Child Rights
This module will introduce you to sociological debates on human and child rights. In principle, virtually everyone is in favour of human rights. But in practice, there is disagreement about what kind of rights we should enjoy by virtue of our common humanity and about who is included in the category of 'human'.
The module starts by introducing you to debates on the foundation, nature and scope of human rights. These competing understandings of the idea and experience of human rights and of rights and rights violations will then be fleshed out using real-world examples or case studies related to child labour, human and child trafficking, sexual exploitation of children, modern slavery, poverty and other forms of exploitation, oppression and suffering in the contemporary world.
Critical interrogation of these phenomena will help you recognise the interplay between human and child rights, power and hegemony under contemporary conditions of globalisation.
Introduction to Cultural Theory
This module is focused on the conceptual issues that are at stake when we seek to study culture and concentrates on current themes in the study of culture. Through focusing on topics of subjectivity and identity, performativity, memory, emotions and the senses you will be introduced to the work and thinking of a range of cultural theorists, such as: Butler, Freud, Hall, Said, Sedgewick and Williams.
The module will also cover issues such as the formation of hegemonic and marginalised identities, hybridity and globalisation, queer theory, and the relationship [or not] between social structures and individual agency.
Police, Policing and the Police
This module is concerned with the sociology and politics of policing. The main focus will be on England and Wales but the module will draw on literature and experiences from other jurisdictions around the world and from the United States of America in particular. It will cover a range of topics such as:
- The meaning of, and differences between, police, policing and the police
- The history and development of policing and the policesince the 18th century
- The occupational and organisational cultures of the police
- The governance and accountability of the police
- Police powers
- Specialisation in policing eg crime detection, traffic policing, public order policing, terrorism and political policing
- Policing strategies and tactics
- Policing and the media
- Police ethics
- Policing social diversity
- The pluralisation of policing
Prisons and Society
To précis, this module addresses both incarceration (ie routes to, reasons for, and justifications given for enforced removal of liberty and confinement) and prisons (ie social and institutional characteristics of imprisonment). The module requires reading, questioning, and evaluating of the following topics:
- Notion of a criminally deviant act and consequent ramifications (eg imprisonment)
- Relationship between welfare provision and imprisonment rates (eg social exclusion issues)
- The political and historical natures of punishment (eg overt versus covert practices)
- Prisoner population demographics in England and Wales
- Roles, responsibilities, and issues for Her Majesty's Prison Service
- Prison culture (both staff and inmate)
- Institutionalisation theory and the nature of imprisonment
- Provision and receipt experiences of prison mental healthcare
- Sociological research in prisons (eg (in)famous ethnographies/contemporary analysis)
- Future directions for imprisonment (eg reducing reoffending strategies)
Quantitative Methods for Social Science
This module focuses on quantitative methods for the social sciences, and in particular the acquisition of 'quantitative literacy'.
Main topics of interest are the character of quantitative data; their role in empirical social research; their use in description, explanation and forecasting; their use in descriptive statistics; their visualisation; their actual application in substantive social disciplines with a particular emphasis on the degree course discipline; working with statistical software.
Social Research and Community Engagement
This module provides you with an opportunity to apply the insights and skills of social science to enhance your understanding of the role of the voluntary sector in contemporary society with special reference to the city of Nottingham. At the heart of the module is a one-semester community engagement opportunity where you will spend on average eight hours a week, but varying from week to week, with a local community organisation.
The placement enables you to experience at first-hand the challenges, dilemmas and opportunities to make a difference that local organisations face every day. They will have the opportunity to deploy social research skills and academic knowledge to assist the organisations in question.
The teaching element of the module will provide the following: at the very start an overview of the role of the voluntary sector in contemporary society, theories of civil society, and an introduction to some of the models of community organising and public sociology a two day training package in the autumn semester on models of community organising delivered by Nottingham Citizens an opportunity to reflect on progress with the community engagement advice on how to construct the assessment.
The module will also draw on two outside speakers from local community organisations to provide rich, first-hand accounts from within the voluntary sector.
Sociology of Health, Illness and The Body
When a person is deemed to be mentally or physically sick, this involves taking on a particular social role and coming under the care (/power) of others. This module examines the power relations of medical care; the cultural meanings (and thus 'treatment') of different illnesses; and the impact that illness has on our personal and social identities. Topics include:
- Medicine and Power Relations
- The Sociology of Mental Illness
- Experiencing Illness: Narrative and Identity
- Morality: Risk, Blame and Shame
- The Body
- Post-modern Medicine
For the dissertation, you will explore a topic of your choice under the supervision of a designated dissertation group tutor. Work on the dissertation extends over both semesters in the third year. The subject matter must be relevant to your honours subject and approved by the tutor.
The study may be entirely based on the analysis of secondary literature; alternatively it may involve the collection and analysis of primary data, including documentary or textual data, on a scale appropriate to the work-load involved.
During the autumn semester, you should identify a topic and decide on an appropriate strategy of enquiry and analysis. Initial reading and planning for the dissertation should be undertaken mostly in the autumn semester, including literature reviews. A dissertation plan is submitted by the end of November. Any empirical investigation should be substantially underway by the end of the autumn semester.
In the spring semester analysis of the literature and any primary material should be completed and the dissertation written up by early in the summer term.
Four optional modules, which could include one module from another school.
We offer a wide variety of optional modules in criminology, quantitative research methods, social policy, and sociology, which provide an opportunity to focus on an area of study that particularly interests you. Optional modules anticipated to be available to our students include:
Analysing Public Policy
The module examines how public policy is made within government. It provides a critical understanding of how policy is formulated, implemented and evaluated.
The module focuses on key phases of the policy process, from agenda-setting to policy impact. The module provides an applied understanding of policy analysis by examining relevant case studies (eg child abuse, ageing population).
Capitalism and Social Justice: Moral Economies of Inequality
The course will address debates over the nature and meaning of inequality in contemporary society. It will consider these debates from the perspective of historical sociology looking initially at the idea of a distinction between capitalist political economy and pre-capitalist moral economy (E.P. Thompson), going on to discuss alternative accounts of political economy as a form of moral economy, such as those offered by Karl Polanyi, T.H. Marshall, as well as recent French pragmatist thought associated with Luc Boltanski, and the arguments of Thomas Piketty.
The module will discuss substantive topics of race, gender and class and also the impact of colonialism (and post-colonialism) on the formation of Western welfare states. The module will conclude with a discussion of sociology as critique of liberal public reason.
Climate Change and Society
This module deals with the interface between climate change, energy systems, society and culture, focusing on: the making of climate science; understanding controversy over the role of climate science in public policies; the social, policy and cultural meanings and communication of climate science and climate change; the impact of climate change concerns on energy systems; the social, economic and ethical issues raised by energy production technologies including sustainable energy; social practices and energy consumption; and climate, energy and society from a global perspective.
Contemporary Developments in Welfare Policy
The module will explore the contemporary developments and debates in the provision and delivery of welfare services. The module will examine theories of welfare, the funding of the welfare state and key changes in welfare policies, such as the increasing focus on markets and consumer choice, partnerships, the personalisation of service delivery, and the increasing role of the not for profit sector in service delivery.
Another Country: Crime and Crime Control in South Africa
This module looks at crime and ways of controlling it in South Africa (SA), a country with a different history and social structure to the UK. The focus will vary from year to year but is likely to include:
- Impact of colonialism and white minority rule on crime and crime control in SA since the country's transition to democracy in 1994
- Relationship between forms of criminal and transitional justice and the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in coming to terms with violations of human rights under apartheid
- Nature and extent of crime in contemporary SA with a focus on contemporary problems such as gangsterism and organised crime, (sexual) violence against women and children and violent xenophobia
- Usefulness of criminological theories developed in different social contexts (primarily in the US and the UK) in understanding and explaining crime in SA, and in suggesting ways of controlling it
- Political economy of crime and crime control in one of the most unequal societies in the world and the relationships between crime and other forms of social harm, criminal justice and social justice, crime prevention and social policy
- History and development of policing and the response to crime including the reform of the state or public police, the pluralisation of policing and the 're-segregation' of South African society since the end of apartheid 1620
Education, Citizenship and Globalisation
This module seeks to connect the historical and more current debates in education to questions of citizenship in a global age. The main focus is through a discussion of sociological, philosophical and policy based issues to explore the purpose of education in a modern globalised world. This however only becomes possible if we question more neutral and instrumental approaches to education and seek to more explicitly explore its connection to more normative values and concerns.
In this respect, the course will seek to connect ideas in education to a diversity of ways of conceiving of citizenship now and within the past. Most of the course is informed by European, North and South American traditions within sociology although it will also draw on examples and ideas from elsewhere.
Exploring Social and Cultural Life Through Films
Using different genres of film, this module examines contemporary theoretical and empirical debates in relation to a host of issues closely associated with theproduction and contestation of identity, culture, and everyday life. Underpinning by the central theoretical theme of cultural production, consumption, and practices.
The module will illustrate the problematics of culture through the sociological exploration of social condition, identity, consumerism, consumption, consumer culture, slavery, choice, voluntary simplicity, intimacy, body, embodiment, sexual culture, desire, sexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism, dress, fashion, multiculturalism, human rights and social inclusion/exclusion.
Gender and Media
This module will explore key debates and issues around contemporary representations of gender in the Anglo-American media. It will draw on case studies from a range of media genres, including television, men's and women's magazines and newspapers, as well as considering questions of audience, pleasure and spectatorship.
It will examine how mediated representations of gender intersect with other axes of difference such as 'race', class and sexuality, further exploring how changing mediated gender representations might be linked to wider social change.
Gender, The Family and Social Policy
Introducing feminist approaches to social policy, this module considers how social policy and the development of the welfare state have been underpinned by ideas around gender difference and the structure and responsibilities of the family. We will examine feminist perspectives on welfare, considering how policy might reflect and perpetuate the gendered division of labour in the family and society more broadly. For example, we will examine whether the 'male breadwinner' model has been replaced by a policy commitment to gender equality.
The module will thus examine how social policy excludes or incorporates women at the intersection of the public/private divide, problematising the terms 'justice', 'citizenship' and 'inequality' in relation to gender. Throughout, we will also consider how gender intersects with other axes of difference and inequality, such as 'race' and class.
Migration and Transnationalism
This course examines key issues and concepts connected to the movement and settlement of people in Europe and beyond. Informed by a transnational studies perspective, the module considers migration debates and practices in a critical, comparative and historically informed manner.
The first part of the course explores the political, social and economic factors that cause people to move in an increasing interconnected world. The second part of the course is dedicated to the examination of the different theories of integration and settlement and processes of inclusion and exclusion.
The key issues and concepts addressed will include those of transnationalism and diaspora; gender and intersectionality; transnational families and global care chains; multiculturalism, integration and assimilation; identity, home and belonging.
Special attention will be paid to: Theoretical and methodological issues (How have migration and transnationalism been explained and researched?) Concrete case studies to illustrate in a more concrete and vivid way the complexities, specificities and commonalties of different national experiences and public discourses. Films and documentaries will be used to illustrate some of the core concepts.
Nationalisms: the Politics of Belonging and Exclusion
This module provides a series of historically contextualised and theoretically informed discussions of nation-states and various nation-centred or nationalist politics and discourses of identity. Topics covered include the following:
- The significance of 'the nation' to classical sociology
- An engagement with a variety of theoretical paradigms and conceptual frameworks pertaining to the historical origins and institutional as well as symbolic 'workings' of nations and nationalisms
- Discussion of different and competing models of national belonging and exclusion
- A focus on the changing historical contexts of modernity and post-modernity and their respective impact on nation-states and the politics of national identity
- Discussions of the contemporary relevance of globalisation and the European Union
- Analyses of the place of nationalism in everyday life, of the role of memory in the politics of national identities, and of ethnic pluralism
11 topics are covered in this module via lectures, seminars, and the assessment:
- History: An historical case study of sexual practices and labelled deviances - sexuality in renaissance Venice
- Today: Emergent social issue case studies - child sexual abuse and male rape
- Public parlance, mass media, and the press with sex as subject
- Sex offenders within society and sex offenders outside society: probation and prison
- Sex crimes and the Criminal Justice System in England and Wales: a specific focus on recidivism
- Religion and sexual practice: immoral acts?
- Man and beast as partners: historical and contemporary perspectives
- Sexuality, feminism, and the law
- Sex as trade: sex trafficking and slavery
- Adolescent experimentation: young people, sex, and consent
- Sexual violence: survivors' narratives
Technology, Material Culture and Social Change
This module explores 'the stuff of everyday life' through an interdisciplinary approach to the role of technology in redefining material culture and shaping social change.
The opening part of the module will outline a range of theoretical approaches to the analysis of technology, with a particular emphasis on the relationship between new technologies, modernity and material culture.
The core of the module will investigate a variety of everyday technologies and material objects, for example the telephone, the computer, transportation, fabric, food.
The questions the module addresses include: how have changing technologies in different domains of everyday life both influenced, and been influenced by, social relations? What are the different forms of material culture embedded in and expressed through technologies? How have changing technological forms been represented and marketed by their creators, and subsequently reinterpreted by their users?
Terrorism and Extremism in the United Kingdom
This module examines terrorism and extremism as a contemporary and contentious issue in criminology. Consequently, you will examine the United Kingdom's response to terrorism and extremism. The module explores the case study of Northern Ireland and seeks to place current security threats to the United Kingdom in context. As a result the following indicative issues (subject to change) will be examined:
- Definitional debates
- The fear of terrorism
- Examination of a range of historical and contemporary terrorist threats to the UK
- The role of the criminal justice system in responding to and preventing terrorism and extremism
- Counter terrorism: The balancing of security and rights to liberty and privacy; the ethics of counter terrorism
Tourism, Identity and Risk
The module will explore contemporary theoretical debates in the sociology of tourism, with particular emphasis on how tourism locations are constructed, developed and sustained; the powers and dangers of the 'tourist gaze'; tourism labour markets; tourism and identity; tourism and risk; and social/cultural change.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.