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Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

Course Overview

Karl Popper argued, wisely, at least this time, that ‘all languages are theory-impregnated’.  In this course we learn to reflect explicitly about that which may otherwise simply remain implicit in empirical sociological examination. In this project, we are assisted by important thinkers who have developed distinctive and influential ways of considering the social. We begin with classical sociological theory (Marx, Weber, Nietzsche) before moving on to the work of more recent social thought (including, Actor Network Theory and Dorothy Smith), giving students an advanced working knowledge of the most important theoretical tools available to jobbing social scientists.

Course Details

Study Type Postgraduate Level 5
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Dr Andrew McKinnon

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Any Postgraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

Advanced Social Theory: This course aims to provide an understanding of contemporary theoretical approaches in sociology. Classical sociology can be understood as an attempt to understand the transition to modernity and the effect this has had on society. Three fundamental sociological traditions emerged, each taking one form of social change as their central concern: industrial revolution and the shift to capitalist social relations (Marx), the emergence of the modern bureaucratic military state (Weber), and the transition to a more complex form of social organizations where social cohesion can no longer be generated by shared religion or ethnicity (Durkheim). Since the beginning of the 20th century, changes in social organization have accelerated and transformed further, and out of these three traditions sociology has developed a wealth of theoretical approaches to try to come to grips with these changes. This course provides an in depth look at some of the most influential theorists and schools of thought in contemporary sociology, as they struggle to understand fundamental processes such as globalization, late modernity, and the information technology revolution, and their effects on such things as identity, gender, knowledge production, social structures, inequality, culture, capitalism and the State.

Further Information & Notes

Students who are not undertaking a postgraduate programme of study in Sociology must contact the course co-ordinator to confirm suitability of the course to their programme of study.

In light of Covid-19 this information is indicative and may be subject to change.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

  • 1 Seminar during University weeks 7 - 17

More Information about Week Numbers

In light of Covid-19 and the move to blended learning delivery the assessment information advertised for second half-session courses may be subject to change. All updates for second-half session courses will be actioned in advance of the second half-session teaching starting. Please check back regularly for updates.

Summative Assessments

The course is 100% continuous assessment. Assessment comprises a series of three critical written responses to the readings, collated as a course workbook. THe first assignment is worth 30% of the final mark, and the second and third assignments are worth 35% each of the final mark.

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.



Course Learning Outcomes


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