SLSP1200 Sociology of Modern Societies

Reading List
  • Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View timetable
  • Credits: 20
  • Class Size: 250
  • Module Manager: Ben Hirst
  • Email:
  • This Module is approved as a Discovery Module
  • This module replaces SLSP1022 Sociological Thinking

Discovery module overview

Module Summary

Module Summary

This module is an introduction to some of the main concepts and traditions in sociology. The module will involve ‘thinking with history’ in order to understand the present. Students will be taken on an intellectual journey to understand how contemporary society has grown out of earlier societies and points beyond itself to a diversity of possible futures. Whilst many of us already know a great deal about society because we are an important part of it, in this module students are provided with the perspectives and the concepts needed to sharpen that understanding into a powerful critical tool. The module reveals the social patterns that lie beneath the political rhetoric and the noise of the media in our contemporary society. The materials studied and the debates covered will also help us to tackle the age-old questions of: ‘what exactly is “society”?’; and ‘what, precisely, do we mean by a “good society”?’ Students without A level Sociology are at no disadvantage.


By exploring key themes and classic and contemporary debates in the history of sociology and of societies, on completing the module students will be better able to:

  • - Demonstrate their understanding of the main theoretical and policy perspectives relating to the formation of modern societies
  • - Contribute to informed debate in relation to issues surrounding key transitions in the shape of societies paying particular attention to global crises
  • - Critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the various theories and perspectives on these issues


Topics to be covered:
1 Introduction ‘Why Sociology Matters’
2 What is Modernity? The Enlightenment: birth of the individual; The West and Rest : the ‘civilising mission’.
3 Rise of Science & Empiricism: birth of Sociology; Counter Enlightenment: development of Sociology.
4 Modernity and its Discontents; Industrialisation; Urbanisation
5 Bureaucratisation; Exclusions and Oppressions
6 Alienation and Anomie:
7 Disenchantment:
8 Perfecting the human:
9 Risk:
10 Consumption:
11 Beyond Modernity? Late or Liquid Modernity?

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module students will be able to:
(a) Effectively analyse some of the main debates concerning the nature of the social;
(b) Critically evaluate some of the main concepts used in sociology;
(c) Demonstrate a familiarity with the central traditions of the discipline;
(d) Apply sociological ways of looking at human societies in order to analyse complex social issues critically;
(e) Demonstrate an understanding of the transition from pre-modernity, to modernity and beyond modernity;
(f) Demonstrate an appreciation of the importance of a long-term perspective in sociology.

Assessment and teaching

Assessment and teaching


Assesment type Notes % of formal assesment
Essay 1 x 1,500 words 100
Total percentages (Assessment Coursework) 100

Private Study

108 hours preparation for lectures and tutorials, including the writing of tutorial contributions
60 hours of preparation for and the writing of the 1500 word essay.

Progress Monitoring

Verbal contributions to group discussion in tutorials are a further mechanism to monitor student progress.

Teaching methods

Delivery type Number Length hours Student hours
Lecture 22 1 22
Tutorial 10 1 10
Private Study Hours 168
Total Contact Hours 32
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits) 200

Reading List

Reading List
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