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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SLSP2730 Central Problems in Sociology

20 creditsClass Size: 175

Module manager: Dr Austin Harrington

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications

At least 20 credits at Level 1 from a social science related discipline or the appropriate discovery theme.

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Do you want to be oriented effectively to our modern world? Do you want to understand the key topics in the on-going conversation sociologists have been having for 200 years about our social life, the groupings human beings form and the way they both make and are made by the societies within which they live? If so, Central Problems in Sociology may be the module for you. It focuses on the main thinkers of importance in the history of the discipline, showing how they have influenced each other and elucidating their main ideas. The module is organised around the themes of social integration; the individual and society; power and social change; and the social basis of culture, beliefs and consciousness. The conversation is brought up to date with a discussion of contemporary sociologists debating the question of modernity and what if anything may lie beyond it. Empirical materials covered include suicide, religion, bureaucracy, alienation and revolution, ideology, power and authority, sexuality, genocide, contemporary risks and the future of democracy. Prerequisites - normally 40 credits taken within the Faculty of ESSL or related disciplines.


On successful completion of this module, students should:
1) be able to understand the main problems of sociology, the attempted solutions to those problems, and their interrelation; and
2) have acquired a knowledge of the work of the key sociologists who have helped shape the discipline and establish its distinctiveness from the eighteenth century until the early post-Second World War period.

The aim of the module is to provide an introduction to the main themes of sociology, understood as the discipline concerned with:
a) the nature of social order and change; and
b) the role of human agency in relation to these.


- The nature of social order (or the problem of integration)
- The nature of agency (or the individual and society)
- Changing order and the problem of power
- Explanation and understanding
- Culture and ideology (including the nature of sociological knowledge)
- The nature and direction of institutional change and development

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
On-line Learning221.0022.00
Private study hours153.00
Total Contact hours47.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- 90 hours reading for essays
- 42 hours reading for tutorials
- 22 hours reading for online learning units and lectures

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students progress will be monitored via their attendance at workshops

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 2,500 words100.00
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: 26/07/2023


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