In the first year, you will be introduced to significant traditions and ideas in the disciplines of sociology and social policy.
You will explore important themes and topics such as deviance, contemporary culture, citizenship and globalisation.
Globalisation means that societies are more interlinked than ever before. A range of different problems and issues now unfolds globally, but their effects are felt socially. This module seeks to understand the how the global and the local intersect, with a particular focus on human rights. For example, many communities are struggling with violent conflict, economic inequality, or environmental destruction. Other groups are searching for identity, justice, or a better life. Conversely, social issues or political debates affecting local communities often have global causes and consequences.
Over the course of the semester, we will consider how global and local experiences interact, and build up a theoretical understanding of their social political and economic causes. In doing so, you will learn how sociology can help us make sense of an increasingly complex world, and how to locate human rights issues within changing global circumstances.
Identity in Popular Culture
The study of culture illuminates how we understand ourselves and others and the meanings we attribute to the world around us. By examining culture we see that many of the 'common sense', 'normal' or 'natural' understandings we have of what it means to be male or female, gay or straight, white or black, middle class or working class, are specific to our particular society, and are also laden with implicit judgements about the relative worth of these identities.
This module considers a range of cultural forms, from the everyday popular culture that surrounds us in our daily lives, such as Hollywood films, reality TV and 'ethnic' cuisine, and explores the ways in which social identities and social relations such as class, gender or racial difference are represented and played out in popular culture.
Introducing Social Policy
Focusing on the main concepts and approaches to social policy, this module assumes little or no background knowledge. It looks at the means by which something is framed as a social problem, with particular reference to poverty and issues of exclusion.
You will be introduced to the main areas of social policy, mainly in the UK, and explore how different social groups experience social policies, the interaction of public, private, voluntary and informal sectors in welfare provision, and ways in which it is financed.
Investigating Social Worlds
This module introduces you to the nature of social research through exploration of the fundamental philosophical, methodological and ethical debates on 'how to think of social research' and 'how to do social research'.
The module begins with discussions of the primary features, functions and characteristics of social research, the distinctions between social research and other modes of investigating and producing knowledge about the social world and the steps typically involved in conducting social research.
Next, attention is focused on social research paradigms and how the different ontological, epistemological and methodological specificities map onto research questions, methods and designs. Attention will then be placed on some of the principal methods of data collection in the social sciences such as surveys, social experiments, interviews, visual methods, group discussions and observation.
The module concludes by examining issues of ethics, status, power and reflexivity in social research.
Understanding Contemporary Society
The first part of the module introduces you to some of the contemporary and historical debates in social sciences in the 21st century.
The social sciences are centrally concerned with the investigation of a changing world and the recent arrival of the internet, globalisation, migration and other features will be investigated. However social science is a discipline with a long historical tradition. Here it is key that you have a working knowledge of Marx, Weber, Durkheim and Du Bois to understand the world of the 19th and early 20th century. The module explores the historical and contemporary relevance of these ideas.
The second part of the course mostly relies upon the social science thinking of the 20th and 21st century. Questions such as the impact of the arrival of the consumer society, the importance of difference and diversity, the role of utopia, the importance of art and social movements, the development of the network and mediated society, issues related to gender identity and sexuality, and our shared ideas about the urban setting and the future are all covered in this part of the course.
Overall, you will be introduced to a range of different perspectives in helping you understand a changing world.
Why Do Policies Fail?
This module provides an introduction to the evaluation of public and social policy, adopting a problem-solving, case-study approach informed by a range of policy areas. Through this, you are introduced to major concepts and topics including:
- Introduction to policy evaluation: definitions and key concepts
- Policy problems, solutions and failures
- Evaluation and the policy-making cycle
- Policy dynamics and path dependency
- Assessing policy and public interventions: evidence and perceptions
- Models and approaches to policy evaluation (including basic evaluation designs)
- Comparing public and social policies (including international perspectives)
- Stakeholders and public engagement