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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Sociological Theory for Social Research (SCIL11037)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course seeks to provide students with a broad introduction to sociological theory assuming no prior knowledge. We emphasize that theory exists in organic relation to empirical research. The primary goal is to develop students' ability to theorize research, whether in the course of their own projects or when engaging critically with the work of others.
Course description The course is organized conceptually. Each session focuses on one core theme in sociological theory. For example, themes may include (but are not limited to): inequality, power, collective action, social relations, interaction, culture, identity, institutions, and agency. While no single course can introduce the entirety of sociological theory, we deliberately privilege breadth over depth. However, students will also choose one theme relevant to their interests, in which they will delve deeper.

We approach each theme as an important topic in current sociological research. At the same time, we situate concepts and theories in the context of theoretical traditions identified by the names of founding figures such as 'Marxist' or 'Weberian.' Rather than emphasize the differences between these traditions, this class attempts to propose a (somewhat) unified approach to the question: what does it mean to think sociologically? What kinds of questions does each concept lead us to ask? What kinds of answers are preferred? What are the key relevant debates in contemporary literature?

Each theme includes three kinds of readings. First, we consider one (in a few cases two) broad overview texts that discuss a range of approaches and provide historical perspective on the origins of key concepts and theories. Second, each topic includes a 'foundational' text (which may be classic or modern) which provides a starting point for a theoretical tradition. Third, each themes includes a selection of 'exemplars' which are recent works that use, apply or otherwise engage with the theoretical concept in question. In addition, students will need to do additional reading (including both foundational texts and exemplars) on the topic they choose for their course paper.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  30
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Two short reading responses (up to 750 words each): 30% of mark

Final essay (3000 words): 70% of mark
Feedback Short assignments and final essays are to be returned within 15 days with written assessment by the supervisor.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop a broad knowledge of the core concepts of sociological theory and the theoretical traditions of which these concepts are a part. Students will develop a theoretical 'map' of distinct theoretical agendas in the social sciences, forming an integrated knowledge of the primary topics within sociological theory.
  2. Assess these theories in the context of contemporary social research. In particular students will read, present on, and learn from the presentations.
  3. Critically engage with selected theme or themes relevant to their substantive research.
  4. Develop a broad knowledge of the core concepts of sociological the interests, completing a critical essay reviewing recent literature at the cutting edge of this theme.
Reading List
Wright, E.O. (2005) 'Foundations of a Neo-Marxist Class Analysis.' Approaches to Class Analysis (edited by E. O. Wright). Cambridge University Press.
Lukes, S. (2004). Power: A Radical View. Palgrave.
Baldassari, D. (2011). 'Collective Action.' In The Oxford Handbook of Collective Action (edited by P. Bearman and P. Hedstrom). Oxford University Press. p. 391-418.
Gould, R. (2003). 'Why do networks matter? Rationalist and Structuralist Interpretations.' In Social Movements and Networks: Relational Approaches to Collective Action (edited by M Diani). Oxford University Press.
Benzecry, C. and Winchester, D. (2017). Varieties of microsociology. In Social Theory Now (edited by C. Benzecry, M. Krause, and I.A. Reed). University of Chicago Press.
Patterson,O. (2014). 'Making sense of culture.' Annual Review of Sociology 40:1-30.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills ***
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Tod Van Gunten
Tel: (0131 6)50 4637
Course secretaryMr Adam Petras
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