Module SXU-1004:
Social Science Perspectives

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1 & 2

Organiser: Dr Paul Carre

Overall aims and purpose

Lectures and associated workshops are based on classic and contemporary examples of work by a range of social scientists. Some have helped to establish the foundations of a sociological approach; some have been particularly controversial, while others have influenced social science methods or made a significant impact on social policy. Students will work with original writing and research as well as commentaries and critiques. Key ideas of Max Weber, Erving Goffman and Michel Foucault underpin most of the subjects and students will be introduced to formative concepts such as Rationality, Legitimate Authority, Institutional Life, Governmentality and Biopower.

By exploring key studies and classic contributions from the social sciences, students will gain an understanding of how studies were carried out and the impact they had. Influential works are explored in the module. Contributions to the study of globalization may also feature in the examples of studies included in the module. Other major themes in social sciences will be explored through a series of lectures and workshops. The main themes are social behaviours and actions (Semester One) and power, control and conflict (Semester 2).

The specific aims of the module are as follows:

  1. To develop students' theoretical understanding of the social sciences through direct acquaintance with key sources of high quality research which demonstrate the social science imagination at work.
  2. To highlight some of the concepts used in the social sciences to classify and explain different social phenomena and to introduce some of the questions that the social sciences pose. Through this process students will be introduced to the `language' of the social sciences.
  3. To highlight the excitement and challenge of conducting social science research, expand students' knowledge and understanding of the methods social scientists have used to interpret society and demonstrate how particular methods can critically shape the findings of social science research.
  4. To explore social science contributions to knowledge about, for example, cultural traditions, the workings of social institutions and the concept of a 'moral panic' generated by the media, plus the topic of globalization and other major themes of social sciences.
  5. To deepen understanding of how social scientists have engaged with public and private issues of their day.
  6. To introduce some of the ways in which the social sciences helps us to make sense of everyday life and offer ways of understanding important issues.

Course content

This module is designed to be taken by social science subject specialists and those working towards Single and Joint Honours Sociology. It will emphasize the acquisition of key social science skills and the development of a social science imagination in part through a series of lectures and workshops based on examples of exemplary social science research. By exploring the contributions of influential authors, students will develop their understanding of social science perspectives, the relationship between theory and practice in the sociology of work, education, family, ethnicity and other areas, and the impact that social science has made on the everyday interpretation of public and private issues. The module will establish a knowledge base of significant texts and research to support the later stages of the social science curriculum.

Each lecture is intended to provide students with an introduction to a key study, recent or classic contribution to the social sciences. The lecturer provides an introduction to relevant underpinning research design and theoretical perspectives in the lecture presentation. In preparation for some lecture sessions students will be required to undertake some preliminary reading. This aspect of the module is intended to develop students' ability to read and understand relevant core texts, and utilise theories and concepts in the social sciences. Students will also develop the ability to investigate issues independently, to identify sources of information, evaluate evidence and collate information from a range of sources, including lectures, seminars and library resources.

Workshops are regularly delivered by the module tutor. The aim of these is to build on the topic of the lecture. This part of the module is intended to facilitate engagement with the topic through student centred learning approaches, such as group discussion and activities that are guided (but not constrained) by the key study of the week. Most workshop sessions will involve mini group activities. These aim to develop transferable skills. For instance: cognitive skills such as critical thinking, communication skills such as oral presentation, co-operative learning skills in a small group context. Students are required to effectively share information, work in teams, discuss course topics and contribute to debates. Students will also develop the ability to reflect upon learning in order to evaluate personal performance and plan future learning. Preparatory tasks help students' develop the ability to investigate issues independently, to identify sources of information, evaluate evidence and collate information from a range of sources, including lectures, seminars and library resources, the VLE, and the `social world'.

Assessment Criteria

threshold

In order to pass the module students must be able to identify some of the main contributors to the social sciences and show a basic understanding of selected research by noting aspects of underpinning research design and describing some of the findings. They will show a basic understanding of sociological theories in the context of selected research and note some associated themes of social debate. Students will be able to explain social phenomena using a basic range of social science concepts.

good

A good student will be able to identify some of the main contributors to the social sciences and show a good understanding of selected research by providing a clear account of underpinning research design and a comprehensive analysis of the findings. They will effectively apply social theories to the selected research, draw upon important themes of social debate and explain different social phenomena showing a good grasp of social science concepts.

excellent

An excellent student will be able to identify some of the main contributors to the social sciences and demonstrate a complete understanding of the selected research. They will be able to decisively evaluate underpinning research design and critically interpret the findings. An excellent student will show a sophisticated grasp of theory, applied within a well-developed and critical argument to the selected research that will encompass important themes of social debate, conflicts of opinion or overarching themes. They will display a mature awareness of different social phenomena and clear use of social science concepts.

Learning outcomes

  1. Identify and discuss a range of exemplary contributions to the social science tradition.

  2. Understand and critically interpret the detail of one social science study.

  3. Demonstrate knowledge of key theoretical perspectives and apply to a social science study.

  4. To identify and engage in social science debates relevant to a social science study.

  5. Use a variety of social science concepts and provide an account of social science interpretations and their significance.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Essay semester 1 50
Essay semester 2 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
 

Students have a flexible learning environment, both to accommodate those from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, and to reflect the evolving and often contentious nature of the social science discipline.

 
Private study

Students will have access to a range of resources, including texts, monographs and journals, both text and electronic; and computing resources including hardware, software and learning environments such as Blackboard.

172
 

Students will be exposed to a variety of teaching and learning formats, including lectures and workshops, independent study and flexible learning via Blackboard.

 
 

Students will be encouraged to adopt active learning during lectures, and to develop skills in listening, note-taking and reflection.

 
 

Workshops will provide the opportunity for student-centred and interactive learning.

 
Lecture

Workshops, including exercises in group work and group discussion

14
Workshop

Workshops include exercises in group work and group discussion. Sometimes based on reading short texts. Occasional guest lectures.

14
 

Students will have access to a wide range of supplementary material on the virtual learning environment together with 'further reading' to guide students who wish to develop their knowledge of the topic further.

 

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Capacity to identify and describe the causes and consequences of social order and change in specific contexts.
  • Ability to formulate and investigate sociologically informed questions.
  • Appreciate a range of research designs and strategies and how they may be applied to sociological investigations.
  • Competence to carry out a piece of sociological research using either primary or secondary data, or both.
  • Be able to recognize how social data and sociological knowledge apply to questions of public policy.
  • Undertake either on their own, or in collaboration with others, investigations of social questions, issues and problems, using statistical and other data derived from research publications.
  • The ability to identify and deploy a range of research strategies including qualitative and quantitative methods and the use of published data sources and to select and apply appropriate strategies for specific research problems; and the ability to present the philosophical and methodological background to the research of others and to one's own research.
  • how to use empirical evidence - both quantitative and qualitative in criminology and sociology
  • competence in using major theoretical perspectives and concepts in sociology, and their application to social life
  • the ability to recognise the relevance of sociological knowledge to social, public and civic policy.
  • competence in using major theoretical perspectives and concepts in sociology, and their application to social life
  • the ability to recognise the relevance of sociological knowledge to social, public and civic policy.

Resources

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: