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Last modified: 31 Jul 2023 11:19

Course Overview

Karl Popper argued, wisely, at least this time, that all languages are theory-laden. In other words, if we are doing social science, it is impossible not to do theory, but we have a choice to do it well or poorly, informed by the thinking of others who have gone before us, or in ignorance of it. 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 before moving on to the work of more recent social thought, 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 Aberdeen 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

This course provides an advanced introduction to thinking theoretically about the social world. Each year we read works by a number of important classical and contemporary thinkers, all addressing a common theme. Each of these will conceive of the topic in a different way, making different arguments about the way that the social world works, using different logics and deploying different evidence. By considering a range of approaches to the same theme or problem, this gives us the tools to start making our own theoretical arguments about how the world works and how to study it. The focus is on key texts, and we will learn to compare and contrast different approaches; to use one approach to critique another; and finally, to synthesize our own theoretical approach.

Contact Teaching Time

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

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

Alternative Assessment

Essay (2500 words) - 30%

Essay (3000 words)- 35%

Essay (3000 words) - 35%

Alternative Resit Assessment

Second attempt at whatever part of the assignment the student failed.

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
FactualRememberILO’s for this course are available in the course guide.

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