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2017/18 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SLSP5314M Understanding Society and Culture

30 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Adrian Favell

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2017/18

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module introduces students to competing ways of knowing social life in the contemporary world and its historical emergence, including leading philosophies and currents of social thought. Teaching covers core concepts, problems and substantive cases in the formation of social and cultural life, encompassing the four key dimensions of social structures, cultural values and meaning, state power, and global orders. Each of these four strands comprises debates about policy and government, inequality and conflict, identity, subjectivity and belonging, protest and resistance.


Are designed to be in keeping with the programmes for which this module is core/compulsory, accordingly:
- Demonstrate in-depth specialist knowledge of key theories and debates in sociology, social policy and cultural studies and their application to contemporary society and culture;
- Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of concepts, information and techniques deployed in the study of society and culture;
- Display advanced abilities for critical thinking and in-depth analysis of existing scholarship on society and culture;
Demonstrate the ability to produce and present a piece of individual analysis of society and culture that employs appropriate conceptual frameworks and critical inquiry.

Learning outcomes
This module will allow students to:
- demonstrate an understanding of and critical engagement with the key conceptual, theoretical, empirical and critical debates about society, culture, state and world systems;
- understand and deploy competing approaches and perspectives on society and culture;
- develop skills of critique and analysis;
- understand how society and culture becomes an objects of analysis, places of contemplation and sites of intervention; objects of analysis and contention
- examine the formation and contestation of the state and operations of power, authority and inequality
- identify appropriately global dimensions of the above and emergence of international orders and understand the emergence of centre and peripheries of global power.


The module will first introduce ways of knowing; frames and currents of thought and analysis.
Block 1: Does Society Exist?
Structures of organisation; change and transformation; individual agency and interaction.
Block 2: What is Culture?
Normative ideas of culture; signs, symbols and meanings; culture and media.
Block 3: Why Do States Matter?
Origins and functions of state formation/s; state and nationhood; media and state control.
Block 4: How does the World Work?
Interstate relations; post-national identities and governance; global centres and peripheries of power.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours278.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Students will be set weekly work, in the form of guided reading tasks and preparation of presentations or other tasks as set for seminars (e.g. team mini-projects). Students will be furnished with an extended reading list for use in independent study towards assignments.
Preparation for lectures and seminars 178 hours.
Preparation for assessment 100 hours.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

There will be two points of assessment.
1 x lit review of two set readings of 1000 words, to be completed in week 4. Students will be provided with feedback that can aid their development and progression through the course.

1 x summative essay of 3000 words. This assignment will be designed to test student’s attainment vis-a-vis the learning objectives and be structured in such a way as to require students to demonstrate their learning from across the module.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay or Dissertation3000 words80.00
Literature Review1000 words20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 02/10/2017


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