MA Sociology Modules

The MA Sociology is run over a year long period and on a full-time basis. Teaching consists of a variety of lectures, seminars, workshops and supervision in different areas of social work. Although it is largely carried out by experienced academics, the course also benefits from the input of social workers and service users.

Elmfield PhD study

Students taking this course complete 180 credits in total. This breaks down as follows:

Core modules (60 credits total)

Current Sociology (30 credits)

This module introduces you to current and emerging sociological frameworks for thinking about the nature of social relationships, divisions, practices, identities and inequalities, in micro/macro local/global contexts. It will cover central theoretical approaches for conceptualising current sociological concerns (social identities and stratifications, diversities, post-colonialism, mobilities, securitisation, globalisation, consumption, urban and rural divides, gentrification, community, conflict, conviviality, the human/non-human) and social inequalities, and the intersectional relationships between these. In order to explore how various social processes, practices, identities and inequalities manifest themselves, change and interrelate, specific empirical contexts will be addressed.

Concepts and Ideas in Sociological Theory (30 credits)

This module explores concepts, arguments, and ideas that have decisively advanced social and sociological theory. After briefly revisiting works that have characterised early social thought, the module focuses on key interventions in 20th and 21st century socio-theoretical scholarship. Key areas of investigation on the module include, among others: critical theory, radical feminist theory, postmodern thought, and poststructuralist thought.

In exploring these areas, students on this module will interrogate a range of pressing sociological concerns, such as exchange, communication, exploitation, domination, oppression, power, and resistance. Students will learn to interpret, analyse, and evaluate the implications of major advances in social thought both for the critical examination of contemporary social relations and conditions and for the conception of sociology as the study of the social world.

The module is taught over 2 semesters (20 weeks) as a combination of lectures and seminars. Students taking this module will be engaging closely with primary texts in social theory and will be completing small writing exercises related to those texts each week.

Some of the readings that we will be exploring are:

Baudrillard, J. (1983) In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities: Or, the End of the Social and Other Essays. Semiotext(e). Haraway, D. (2004) The Haraway Reader. Routledge. Horkheimer, M. (1972) Critical Theory: Selected Essays. Continuum. Irigaray, L. (1985) This Sex Which Is Not One. Cornell University Press. Lyotard, J.-F. (1997) Postmodern Fables. University of Minnesota Press.

Optional modules 1

Students take a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 30 credits from this group.

Innovations in Qualitative Research (15 credits)

This module introduces you to a variety of advanced and innovative qualitative research techniques suitable for social science research projects. The module provides you with a philosophical introduction to qualitative methodology, and covers a range of innovative research techniques including creative interviewing, sensory ethnography, mobile methods, longitudinal research, memory work, re-using qualitative data and participatory approaches such as the use of diaries and drawings. The module will also introduce you to a range of analytical techniques, including computer-aided qualitative data analysis, and covers innovative approaches to writing and communicating with qualitative data.

Multivariate Methods in Social Research (15 credits)

This module will introduce advanced uses of multivariate statistics in the social sciences. It will give you a broad introduction to advanced multivariate statistical methods employed in social science research, will enable you to critically assess the validity, strengths and weaknesses of multivariate quantitative research, will teach you how to undertake multivariate statistical analysis using SPSS and other appropriate packages, and allow you to develop good report writing and critical analytical skills.

The unit covers several methods that are often employed in comparative sociology and social policy. These will include: Cluster analysis; Factor analysis; and Regression (including Ordinary Least Squares and Logistic Regression).

Assessment: You will undertake a secondary data analysis project of your own devising and present this in report form.

It is expected that students will have some previous experience (e.g., at undergraduate level) of SPSS and basic statistics.

Optional modules 2

Students will take a minimum of 30 and a maximum of 45 credits from this group.

International Social Change and Social Problems (15 credits)

In this module, you will focus on the processes, dynamics and consequences of contemporary social change from an international perspective. Key patterns of international social change are explored and analysed with reference to the main theories and at different spatial scales from the global to the local. Arguments will be applied through a number of cases studies, including: (international) migration, labour market change, economic competitiveness, population ageing and family change.

Contemporary Challenges: Sociology of Brexit (15 credits)

Contemporary Challenges explores a key contemporary challenge in depth and applies key concepts in Sociology (e.g. class, race, nationalism, democracy) in analysing it. The focus of the challenge will change on a three to four-yearly basis. In its first iteration, the module focuses on Brexit: ideas of class and `the left behind', English nationalism, nostalgia for empire, the media, and some of the impacts of Brexit in relation to everyday life. In doing so the module will develop a deeper understanding of the reasons behind the vote for the UK to leave the EU, as well as some of its consequences.

Sociologies of the Everyday (15 credits)

This module will explore theoretical and empirical insights into the mundane, personal and everyday. Beginning with an exploration of theoretical approaches to making sense of everyday, personal and mundane facets of the social world, the module goes on to explore key areas of everyday life including personal relationships; belonging in time, space and place; interactions between politics and personal life and everyday racisms. The module will also consider the challenges involved in attempting to ‘capture’ the everyday in empirical sociological research.

Principles of Research Design 1 (15 credits)

This module will introduce you to key principles in relation to the design and practice of research. The module covers three broad areas of content that underpin the pursuit of research: a range of philosophical frameworks within which research is conducted; a variety of strategies and approaches to designing, conducting and appraising research; and reflections on the place of the researcher and their skills in the research process. You will explore how these ideas and principles shape the design and conduct of research across disciplines, as well the implications for the knowledge produced.

Social Media, Data and Society (15 credits)

This module examines the social consequences of widespread use of social media, a key characteristic of digital society. It explores what happens as a result of the digitised and networked sharing of personal information and life experiences of all kinds, in times of 'datafication' (that is, the transformation into data, numbers and statistics of aspects of social life which formerly did not exist in such forms). The unit reviews theoretical literature on social media, data and society and addresses specific debates and issues, including: social media data mining; social media surveillance; the economic value of social media data; data tracking, privacy, rights and data subjects; governing social media data mining; data activism and open data; data visualisation; new forms of data work; data and everyday life.

Advanced Social Media Research (15 credits)

This module focuses on innovative techniques that move beyond the traditional distinction between quantitative and qualitative approaches in the analysis of social media data. You will critically discuss and apply some of the most contemporary digital methods developments. These include: - interface methods, that is, methods combining analytical traditions from digital media, social studies of science and technology (STS) and sociology; - app 'walkthroughs', that is, methods to explore the intersections of apps original purposes, normalised meanings and implied users and usages; - techniques to detect bots and botnets in social media platforms; - techniques to investigate the circulation of fake news on social media platforms; - digital methods for visual research.

Global Challenges in the Digital Society (15 credits)

Global challenges in the digital society explores in depth a series of contemporary issues that affect the relationship between digital media and society in the global context. Topics include, among others, digital labour and international digital labour platforms and markets; disinformation, misinformation and the challenges to traditional forms of expertise; mainstream social media platforms and cross-cultural contamination; decentralised digital networks and transnational collective action; digital media and transnational governance; AI and machine learning; urban automation and smart cities; blockchain and the politics of diffusion.

Principles of Research Design 2 (15 credits)

This unit follows SMI607 in introducing students to research design, with a focus on what happens during and after the process of conducting research, and the relevant professional skills required by researchers. It addresses issues of research ethics, sampling and recruitment, reflexivity, project management, collaboration with other researchers, different approaches and techniques for analysing data, and the process of presenting, publishing, and disseminating research to a range of different audiences. In this way, in combination with SMI607, it provides students with a toolkit to conduct an entire research project independently from a range of different philosophical and methodological perspectives.

Dissertation (60 credits)

This module is concerned with enabling you to undertake an in-depth study on a topic of your own choice, guided by one-to-one academic supervision, relevant to sociology. It aims to enable you to develop and demonstrate skills in the planning, definition and management of a substantial piece of sociological enquiry. The dissertation may take the form of a theoretical and literature based analysis of a topic relevant to the course, or it may additionally involve an empirical exploration, either through primary or secondary research, of a sociological topic.

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it is up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, outcomes of reviews, and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Information last updated: 15 January 2020