SLSP2730 Central Problems in Sociology

Reading List
  • Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View timetable
  • Credits: 20
  • Class Size: 150
  • Module Manager: Ben Hirst
  • Email:
  • 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

Discovery module overview

Module Summary

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

Assessment and teaching

Assessment and teaching


Assesment type Notes % of formal assesment
Essay 1 x 2,500 words 100
Total percentages (Assessment Coursework) 100

Private Study

  • - 89 hours reading for essays and exams
  • - 48 hours reading for tutorials
  • - 20 hours reading for lectures

Progress Monitoring

Students progress will be monitored via their attendance at workshops

Teaching methods

Delivery type Number Length hours Student hours
Workshop 21 1 21
Lecture 22 1 22
Private Study Hours 157
Total Contact Hours 43
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits) 200

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