Politics and Sociology BA
Department of Politics and International Relations
Department of Sociological Studies
You are viewing this course for 2021-2022 entry.
This course combines political analysis with policy studies, to powerful effect. You'll study modules in the Department of Politics and the Department of Sociology.
The politics part of the course introduces you to political theory and the big issues in contemporary politics. We'll teach you how to analyse political ideas, institutions and practices.
In sociology, you'll study modern industrial societies: patterns of social change, social interaction and the detail of everyday life.
The first year features Introduction to Political Analysis, The Politics of Globalisation, Introduction to Sociology, and Social Divisions in Contemporary Society. Optional sociology modules might include Understanding Inequality, Globalisation and World Cultures, and Science, Technology and Society.
In the third year, you'll research and write a 12,000-word dissertation. You might choose a Work-Based Dissertation, which means you collaborate on a research project with an external partner - like a local government department or a charity - and write about that.
The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department directly.
Choose a year to see modules for a level of study:
UCAS code: LL23
- Analysing Politics
This module is about (1) politics, and (2) how to analyse it. More specifically, it involves (1) understanding how power and truth operate in the contemporary world; and (2) discovering different ways to research these dynamics so to build compelling and rigorous accounts of the political worlds that we find ourselves a part. Students will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, and independent study; and will be assessed on the basis of an essay, a portfolio relating to seminar preparation, and an online multiple-choice test.20 credits
- Classical Sociological Theory
The aim of this module is to introduce foundational theories in sociology. The lectures will describe the ideas of leading theorists Durkheim, Marx, and Weber with reference to the social context in which they lived and wrote. Lectures will analyze the primary texts of sociological throught with reference to the social contexts in which they emerged. This will include a look at the concerns of the first generation of sociological thinkers, their understanding of changes in European societies at the time, and the way in which their ideas inform an understanding of issues and problems in the contemporary world.10 credits
- Exploring Classical Social Thought Seminars
The purpose of this seminar module is to provide a medium for students to discuss, evaluate, assess, and engage foundational theories in sociology. The seminar topics will seek to relate major sociological theories to (historical) events of concern to the theorists themselves, and events of interest to contemporary students of social affairs. The discussions will emphasise ideas and concepts in key sociological writings and their contribution to shaping sociological enquiry.10 credits
- The Sociological Imagination Seminar
Drawing upon the lectures in the accompanying module (SCS100), students will use the seminars to explore a range of everyday life situations - such as mobile phone use, shopping, and travel - from a sociological perspective. Emphasis will be placed on students reflexively exploring their own experience, on the one hand, and gathering exemplary material from print and digital media. Students will be required to do exercises on specific topics.10 credits
- The Sociology of Everyday Life
This module aims to introduce students to basic sociological concepts, such as 'the sociological imagination', 'social interaction', 'social identity', 'deviance' and 'globalisation' and illustrate how these can be applied to everyday life. Drawing on the work of key thinkers in sociology, a range of everyday life situations, such as mobile phone use, shopping and travel will be used as exemplary cases10 credits
- British Politics
This module will introduce students to key concepts and debates in British politics through an examination of post-1976 British political history. Each lecture will take as its starting-point one day in recent British history and will describe what happened on that day and what happened as a result of that day. Each of the seminars will then follow that discussion: paying particular attention to concepts and ideas within the study of politics which can help us make sense of those events.20 credits
- Introduction to Comparative Politics
This module examines the utility of the comparative approach to politics in an era of the proclaimed 'end of history' and 'global convergence'. It examines executives in a number of political systems. It focuses on 'constitutional engineering' by examining the effect that electoral and party systems have on the structure of executive authority and the types of executive commonly used in political systems. These are presidential, prime ministerial and mixed systems. It considers what is meant by 'strong' and 'weak' executives. The cases examined are: US presidency, Brazilian presidency, UK prime minister, German Federal Chancellor, Russian presidency and the French presidential system.20 credits
- Introduction to Global Political Economy
This module provides an introduction to global political economy (GPE). It covers key mainstream and critical theories and considers critically what GPE is. Following this, the main focus will be on sketching the outlines of the global economy (past and present) by considering particular commodities. This provides a novel way to introducing the student to the major processes of global trade, finance and production. It also considers the political economy of race, class and gender as core theoretical themes that interweave the empirical examination of the global political economy, from roughly 1500 through to the 21st century.20 credits
- Introduction to International Relations
This module will introduce students to the discipline of International Relations (IR) and therefore the study of global politics. IR is a complex, multi-level and multi-actor field whose terrain spans global to individual issues. To provide a comprehensive introduction to IR, the module will focus on two questions: 1) What is the subject matter of IR? And 2) What is the unit of analysis? Structuring the module as such will introduce students to key debates in IR and provide a broad overview of the subject matter (from global governance to individual activism) and different actors (from the UN to terrorists).20 credits
- Introduction to Western Political Thought
This module provides an introduction to key themes and thinkers in Western political thought. It explores the different meanings of the nature of politics and the political in this tradition. One key theme will be the relation between human nature and politics. This will be explored through a series of deep conflicts between reason and desire, the state and individual, and the public and private. These conflicts are examined through the different visions of politics of a selection of ancient and early modern thinkers. The module will also engage with critiques of the canon of Western political thought itself, in particular from a postcolonial perspective.20 credits
- Gender, Sexuality and Society
This unit intends to address the following questions regarding gender and sexuality and their interaction with society: What do we mean by gender and sexuality? How do we do gender and sexuality? How do we see gender and sexuality? How do we control gender and sexuality?10 credits
- Introducing Criminology
Crime is a major social problem in virtually all societies. In this module, sociological understandings of crime are discussed, often with reference to their implications for policy. The module will introduce you to major research about crime in contemporary Britain and help you to understand the contribution of sociology to its analysis. This module will be of value to anyone thinking about a career in the criminal justice services, journalism, public service, the voluntary sector and anyone interested in understanding the significance of crime in contemporary British society10 credits
- Introduction to Media and Communication in Society
This module examines the relationship between media and society. It examines the nature of influence and persuasion, representation, ownership, and identity in contemporary media environments.10 credits
- Introduction to Social Research
Students will be introduced to theoretical, methodological and practical issues in conducting empirical social research and become equipped with some of the basic skills necessary to undertake qualitative and quantitative projects, from project planning through to writing up research findings. Students will also be given the opportunity to explore different areas of social research in small groups through class presentations and debates10 credits
- Social Divisions Seminar
The aim of this unit is to explore a key concern of sociology to explain how and why material and symbolic rewards are distributed unequally. The unit will focus on how social constraints and opportunities arise from social divisions and will explore how various social divisions interact to produce unequal outcomes. It will evaluate critically sociological research that provides evidence of structured inequality in society. A key aim of the unit is to provide students with a sociological framework to assess critically how social divisions operate in their own lives through the constraints and opportunities they encounter.10 credits
- Understanding Inequality
The aim of this unit is to explore a key concern of sociology to explain how and why material and symbolic rewards are distributed unequally. It will consider the unequal distribution of wealth, privilege and power and, in doing so, will question common-sense understandings of various inequalities in society. It will focus on various social divisions including the `big three' of social class, gender and race, as well as sexuality, age, religion and disability. Major themes will be explored with a predominantly British- and policy-related focus, although global divisions and inequalities will also be included for consideration.10 credits
- Welfare Politics and the State
This unit introduces students to some of the material and theoretical concerns of social policy by focusing on the politics of `welfare'. It is organised around unpacking common contemporary 'welfare myths' - e.g. 'the benefit scrounger', 'welfare tourism' and the need for austerity - by taking a long view of their articulation through history, exploring their ideological roots, examining policy responses and assessing the empirical evidence to support them. In doing so the unit also focuses on the policy making process, examining in particular issues of power in contemporary UK and the role of the media in perpetrating 'welfare myths'.10 credits
- Political Analysis: Research Design and Data Analysis
This module provides students with an introduction to research design and methods for analysing of political phenomena. The module encourages students to reflect on how they conceptualise, design and analyse the political world. This involves exploring the relationship between theory and empirical political research. The module explores various techniques used in the analysis of empirical political research, with particular emphasis on the collection and analysis of quantitative data.20 credits
- Sociological Theory and Analysis
The aim of this module is to build on and develop students' understanding of Sociological theory, exploring its relevance to key themes and issues in contemporary society. The course will begin with an exploration of the work of modern social theorists such as Talcott Parsons and will conclude with a focus on contemporary theorists such as Donna Haraway. In order to foster student understanding of social theory, its aims and purposes, each theorists work will be applied to substantive issues in modern and contemporary society such as family formation, urbanisation, politics, and globalization. Overall, the module aims to provide students with a critical understanding of the importance and use of modern and contemporary social theory.20 credits
- Contemporary Security Challenges
This module examines a series of key contemporary challenges to international security. It addresses debates about the changing nature of security, analyses some of the causes of conflict and the development of new security threats, and assesses some of the ways in which states seek to manage these threats. A range of approaches are examined in order to provide students with a theoretically-informed but policy-relevant understanding of security-related issues in the twenty-first century.20 credits
This module explores development, through a focus on the key debates about, approaches to, and strategies for engendering it that have prevailed in different parts of the world at different points in history. It emphasises how development is not just about what happens in poor countries: it has always been historically, ideologically and spatially rooted. It moves forward chronologically and geographically, starting with classical debates about British industrialisation, before examining contending visions of development in the post-war era; the diverse experiences of Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean; and the contemporary rise of China. It ends by returning to Britain and its growth crisis; itself a manifestation of a peculiar development problem.20 credits
- Human Rights, Power and Politics
The module introduces students to the big debates about human rights. It explores the achievements of the human rights agenda, as well as its failures. The module interrogates a number of important questions about the relationship between human rights and politics. How do human rights work in domestic and international politics? What are effective strategies for realising rights? What role do non-state actors play in the realisation of human rights? Finally, by focusing on the methodological and ethical challenges of researching and measuring human rights, the module makes space for equipping students for their own future research projects.20 credits
- International Relations Theory
This module provides an introduction to international relations theory. The module examines the beginnings of the Discipline and demonstrates how these origines have continued to shape contemporary international relations theory. The module then outlines hte key areas of theoretical debate, including Realism, Liberalism, Marxism, Postmodernism, Constructivism, Neorealism, Feminism and Critical Theory20 credits
- Oppression and Resistance
This module considers oppression and resistance from a variety of perspectives. Although the Enlightenment sought to liberate individuals from social/political domination, it failed to address many forms of oppression at home and was bound to European projects of colonialism. Addressing these forms of violence has been the major project of post-Enlightenment thought and global social movements. This module gives students the historical, theoretical and empirical tools to understand modern oppression and resistance. It explores: the legacy of the Enlightenment, feminism, sexuality, racism, post-colonial and decolonial thought, intersectionality, and social movement case studies such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo.20 credits
- Political Theory in Practice
This module explores key debates in political theory, and the implications of those debates for current political practice. It first examines debates surrounding justice, and what these mean for welfare and taxation policies. It then analyses disputes over the meaning of well-being, and their implications for policies surrounding disability and health. It introduces students to different ideas of toleration, and how these influence laws on free speech. It also explores controversies over multiculturalism, and in particular its impact upon women. Finally, it examines care ethics and its implications for how we value the environment.20 credits
- The Left: Past, Present & Future
This module considers the past, present, and future of 'The Left'. From its origins in the French Revolution, this movement has struggled to balance equality, liberty and solidarity. Implementing these values has given rise to many different stands of leftist thought, leading to debates between radicals and proponents of meliorism. This module gives students the historical, theoretical and empirical tools to understand 'The Left' as a continuing project. Core topics include: defining 'The Left', its origins and theoretical development, its relation to political economy, as well as the current state of the left in the UK and around the world.20 credits
- The Political Economy of Global Capitalism
This module will begin by providing students with an account of the major theoretical traditions which seek to interpret and explain the global political economy. These are liberalism and interdependence theory; mercantilism, nationalism and hegemonic stability theory; and marxism, dependency and world systems theory. It then explores different aspects of the contemporary global political economy - finance, development, trade and production - and ends by reviewing the intellectual debate about the meaning of globalisation.20 credits
- The Politics and Government of the European Union
This module will provide students with a working knowledge of European integration, and of the main institutions of the European Union, including the Council of Ministers, the Commission and the Parliament. The module consists of a series of lectures on the history and institutions of the European Union, and seminars to discuss issues raised in the lectures.20 credits
- Crime, Justice and Social Policy
This unit examines the variety of responses to crime that encompass the use of both crime policy and social policy. Crime policy responses encompass the use of the role of the police, courts and prisons. Alongside this is the social policy approach which includes health, housing, education, employment, youth and family as a means of crime reduction. The module seeks to demonstrate the criticism of `traditional' crime policy-based responses to crime and the way in which social policy has emerged as an alternative way to tackle the so-called `crime problem'. The module includes a consideration of theories of crimes which make competing arguments for the use of crime or social policy as a response; the role of criminologists in policy making; and the criminalisation of social policy as an unintended outcome.20 credits
- Digital Media and Social Change
By reviewing relevant perspectives on digital society and contemporary activism, the conceptual part of the module will introduce theories and debates used to look at the role of digital media (from email to social media) in protest and activism from the 1990s onwards. The practical part of the module will specifically focus on contemporary cases of protest and activism - e.g., #BlackLivesMatters or #MeToo - to guide students in planning and developing an empirical explorative analysis of the use and role of social media like Twitter and Facebook in campaigns aimed at social change.20 credits
- Dynamics of Social Change and Policy
This unit adopts a 'sociological perspective on social policy' to provide a macro perspective on contemporary social and economic transformations in the UK and globally, with a particular emphasis on the challenges posed for social policy theory and practice, as well as the potential to imagine alternative social policy scenarios. Issues considered include: globalisation, neoliberalism, falling fertility and ageing societies, precarious labour markets and migration and mobility. The unit adopts a comparative and international / global perspective, variously emphasising not only the perspectives of International Organisations, but also the challenges faced by other types of welfare regimes.20 credits
- Men, Feminism and Gender relations
This unit provides a critical examination of the growing body of sociological and other literature concerned with men and masculinities. It will locate this growth of interest within the context of the feminist movement and subsequent writings/critiques of men and patriarchy. Significantly, the unit will connect to wider scholarship on gender relations, with topics and case studies including: men in sport, men and media, men and health/ well-being, men and feminism, as well as men and sexualities. Methodological and epistemological issues involved in the study of men and masculinities will also form part of this module.20 credits
- Social Problems: Policy and Practice
This team taught unit adopts a `sociological approach to social policy'. Drawing on current examples and comparative references, it explores social and ideological constructions of social problems and the role of the state and other agencies in responses to them. It explores key concepts and themes in social policy and practice such as inequality, justice and fairness; individual versus collective responsibility; and welfare versus social control. It focuses on major contemporary issues, including welfare and work; housing and homelessness; and community participation. The unit aims to equip students with the necessary critical perspective and skills to understand and explore social problems.20 credits
- Sociology of Work
The module explores the different approaches to understanding work and labour in sociology. The course will cover the classical approaches of Marx, Weber and Durkheim to more contemporary theories (including debates around Taylorism, Fordism, flexibility, skills, control in the workplace, trade unionism and labour process theory). The influence of class, race, age and gender in the world of work will be dealt with along with emerging issues relating to globalisation and new technology.20 credits
- The Sociology of Crime and Deviance
Crime and deviance are major features of all societies. Since the 19th Century, sociologists have developed a variety of explanations as to why individuals stray from the path of conformity. In this course, we will review the historical development of a range of theoretical approaches to the study of crime and deviancy, consider how sociologists have studied the primary institutions of social control such as the police, courts and prisons, and finally consider the contribution of the sociology of crime and deviance to issues of contemporary significance.20 credits
- Understanding 'Race' and Migration
The module explores the meaning of race in various social and political contexts. It examines how ideas about race help to shape and determine social and political relations and includes considering the part played by ideas about race in forming notions of self and other at the micro and macro levels. It also explores the role of race as a major source of social divisions and aims to show the significance of racism to the reproduction of structural inequalities. Themes explored include theories of racism, multiculturalism, Muslims, racialised identities, immigration, education and criminal justice.20 credits
- Dissertation in Politics
This module involves supervised research on an agreed topic. Students will meet with their tutor and peers in two dissertation workshops, undertake individual research, and be assessed on the basis of a 12,000 word dissertation. Students will also undertake five individual supervision sessions with their dissertation supervisor at which objectives will be specified, their achievement monitored and general progress reviewed. Records will be kept of these meetings.40 credits
- Animals, Ethics and Politics
This unit explores the debates surrounding what we owe to animals politically. It introduces students to the main debates in animal ethics, and asks how they affect our political practices, norms, institutions and policies. Particular attention is focused on the tensions between animal welfare and other political values and goods, with students exploring such controversial policy debates as animal experimentation, animal agriculture, conservation and the use of animals for entertainment. The overall aim of the unit is to investigate the implications of taking animals seriously for current political practice.20 credits
- Anti-Politics and Democratic Crisis
Across the world, politicians face growing challenges to their authority. The public distrust them more than ever. Insurgent populist parties challenge traditional politics. Private security firms deliver public services. The public, especially young people, experience politics in very different ways (e.g. through social media). This module interrogates these issues through the idea of anti-politics. Built through an innovative course design to mirror the progression of a research project, students will debate theories suggesting liberal democracies are in `crisis', select methodological frameworks, and use them to explain case studies of anti-politics in diverse cases, from to the state to the supermarket.20 credits
- Britain and the European Union
The course seeks to make sense of: Britain's relations with the EU; the problems within UK politics associated with the European issue; and the Europeanisation of British politics/policy. The course will cover the pre-history of membership and accession. It will set out the analytical toolkit for understanding the UK's impact on the EU and then explore Britain's European diplomacy. It will also explore the EU's impact on the UK, using the Europeanisation literature to understand the impacts on British governance, its political forces and public policy within the EU. A short comparative section will put Britain in context.20 credits
- Britain in the Global Economy
To what extent does Britain’s past development cast a shadow over its present and future? By taking this module, you will look at British development from historical perspectives and trace the origins, the rise and the decline of Britain as a global economic power from the 18th Century to the present day. You will then focus on a number of core problems that have intensified within Britain since the 2008 global financial crisis, including Britain’s dysfunctional economic model, its fraught relationship with Europe, the politics of immigration and culture, and contemporary constitutional challenges, such as the prospect of Scottish independence. It seems that Britain’s status as a global economic power is entering its final years, so what comes next?20 credits
- Civilisation, Empire and Hegemony
With American power seemingly all powerful today, this unit provides a rethink of the origins of great power politics/economics. Mainstrem Eurocentric theories in International Relations view great power politics/economics as having universal materialist properties. And they view America and Britain as hegemons that provide global public goods for the benefit of all. This module problematises this view by revealing the differing moral foundations and 'standards of civilisation' that inform the various directions that great power can take. It examines Britain and China in the pre-1900 era, contemporary America, Japan, and the potential role of China in the coming decades.20 credits
- Contemporary Chinese Politics
This module is a comprehensive introduction to contemporary politics in the People's Republic of China, focussing on the country's domestic politics. It examines China's recent political history focussing on the politics of the Maoist era. We then move to the post-1978 reform and opening-up period, through various topics including the Chinese Communist Party, political economy, policymaking, rural governance, political reform, state-society relations, and major challenges facing the country such as environmental degradation, corruption, and ethnic unrest. It encourages students to think critically about how politics works in China, and to evaluate where China is heading politically in the short, medium, and long-term.20 credits
- Corporations in Global Politics: Possibilities, Tensions, and Ambiguities
Corporations are ubiquitous, affecting everything from mundane individual consumption choices, to the investment decisions of both weak and powerful states. Importantly, their authority extends beyond the economic sphere and into political, as they shape and execute policies and activities for some of the world's most pressing problems. This module explores the multifaceted political roles of corporations, and challenges students to critically reflect on their implications. Drawing upon international relations, political economy, and global governance literatures, it analyses the corporation theoretically, but also empirically drawing upon diverse case studies ranging from environmental sustainability and development, to war-making and peacekeeping.20 credits
- Framing Politics? Economic Ideas as Political Weapons
Throughout the history of capitalism political battlelines and agendas have been set by economic ideas and forms of knowledge being used as political weapons to frame what can be said, done and thought by whom. In this module students will learn how political actors have used economic ideas across time to construct institutions and policies, empower and advantage certain social groupings over others, create shared understandings and expectations amongst citizens, and project (implicit) conceptions of justice. Students will come to an appreciation of how economic thought has shaped politics past and present, and how and why ideas change over time.20 credits
- Justice in World Politics
This module interrogates normative issues in world politics. We will first discuss the theoretical perspectives of cosmopolitanism, nationalism and statism, before applying these perspectives to contemporary global issues. Questions to be addressed may include: how ought we to respond to global poverty and inequality? Do we need a global democracy? What does a just global trade regime look like? Who bears responsibility for climate change mitigation? Can states' territorial claims be justified? Should there be a right to global freedom of movement? And what kinds of political institutions do we need in order to realise a globally just order?20 credits
- Legitimate and Illegitimate Violence
This module examines under what circumstances political violence is deemed legitimate or illegitimate. We will not treat this as a question to be answered by normative political theory, but rather as an empirical question of power and politics. The key organizing questions for the module will thus be: when is violence treated as legitimate in the world? who gets to determine this? and how and when do the boundaries between legitimate and illegitimate violence change? Specific cases may include the distinction between civilians and combatants, the use of violence in war vs. peace-time, terrorism, torture, domestic/family violence, and police brutality.20 credits
- Marx and Contemporary Marxism
This module will familiarise students with Marx's corpus and enable them to evaluate key historical processes-such as the development of capitalism and modernity, the birth of the nation-state and the international system-through a Marxist lens. The first part of the module surveys the development of Marx's thought against the background of the socio-economic and political transformations of the nineteenth century. The second part focuses on thematic issues, reviewing how Marx engaged with the questions of strategy, mobilisation, gender, culture, imperialism, and colonialism. This puts Marx and Marxism into dialogue with other critical approaches, including feminism, postcolonialism, and poststructuralism.20 credits
Drugs are big business and politically salient, yet their production, trade, distribution and regulation are understudied in politics. Narcotics are rooted in complex webs of public, private and criminal power, with diverse consequences for growth, development, security and health. This module explores this evolving panorama: it traces the political evolution of therapeutic/psychotropic substances from the opium wars to prohibition, before analysing the `War on Drugs', the attendant creation of mafia violence, and the emergence of `narco-states'. Later classes address contemporary experiments in legalisation and decriminalisation, the development of licit recreational narcotics industries, and the implications for the global prohibitionist architecture.20 credits
- Pandemics and Panics: Health, Security and Global Politics
In today's globalized world, infectious diseases and other health issues have increasingly come to be seen as security threats - a shift that has challenged traditional notions of what 'Security Studies' is all about. This module seeks to provide an understanding of the contemporary politics of health and security, identifying the health issues which have been seen as security threats and the major policy responses to them. The module locates health and disease within the key approaches to Security Studies (including state-centric and human security approaches), and requires students to critically engage with the politics and ethics of securitizing health.20 credits
- Parliamentary Studies
This module focuses on how parliaments and legislatures operate and is founded on the basis of theoretically-informed but policy-relevant teaching. It therefore attempts to provide students with a sense of why cultures, traditions and informal relationships matter as much (if not more) than formal procedures. Although the House of Commons and the House of Lords provide the main institutional focus for this module students will be encouraged to adopt a comparative approach whenever possible and to situate their analysis within an appreciation of the changing role of parliament within evolving frameworks of multi-level governance.20 credits
- Party Politics: Competition, Strategies & Campaigns
This module provides an in-depth analysis of party politics. It offers a detailed exposition of the multiple issues related with parties, looking at the interactions both within and outside parties. The module covers key aspects of party politics such as the different types of parties, their organization, party membership, types of party systems, political competition and issue positioning, campaign strategies, formation of new parties, the effects of cleavages, coalition formation, party financing and the number of parties.20 credits
- Peacekeeping, State-building and International Intervention
This module looks at the way international intervention has changed in recent years. It draws on a number of different areas - humanitarian intervention, peacekeeping, development and state-building. It draws these areas together by exploring what they have in common and how there has been a shift in the way that international intervention deals with these issues. In particular, the international community has moved from direct involvement towards a form of governance that operates from a distance by encouraging local ownership, capacity building and resilience.20 credits
- Political Psychology: The Personal Side of Politics
This module covers the major theories and research paradigms in the exciting subfield of Political Psychology. Rather than reviewing what happens in politics (e.g. who wins an election) or how it happens (e.g. who votes for whom), we will look at why it happens by studying the psychology of politics at the micro level (e.g. the personality of politicians), the meso level (e.g. the ideological and moral foundations of political parties), and the macro level (e.g. motivated reasoning, racism and prejudice, mass political behaviour and the influence of the media).20 credits
- Political Theory in An Age of Total War
This module presents an overview of the major figures and themes in twentieth century continental political theory, ranging temporally from Max Weber to Jacques Derrida. In reflecting on the dynamics of modernity and rationalization, contemporary European political thought responds to the atrocities of Europe's age of total war. Much of this work is an attempt to come to grips with reason and unreason in the capitalist, industrialized, mass democracies of Europe in light of the legacies of two world wars and the rise of totalitarianism. Key themes include: the legacy of the Enlightenment, the role of technology in modern life, the bureaucratization of politics, the possibility of human freedom, collective memory and forgiveness and the role of philosophy in the aftermath of mass genocide. We will approach this material both historically and hermeutically in order to assess the strengths and weaknesses of these responses to these problems.20 credits
- Politics and the Quality of Life
This module aims to provide students with an understanding of contemporary political debates on quality of life issues and their relation to philosophical traditions within and beyond the main British political parties. This includes analysis of how quality of life is defined and measured in different contexts and relates this debate to long-standing debates on poverty, social exclusion and social capital. Attention is paid to the quality of life aspects of public policies.20 credits
- Practical Politics: How to Make Policy and Influence People
This course will provide a practical, hands on account of how policy is formulated, implemented and why it sometimes doesn't work. Focussing on environmental politics, the course draws on the experiences of policy experts including civil servants, lobbyists and politicians. It will include a trip to London and an assessment that mirrors tasks routinely undertaken by those within or seeking to influence government.20 credits
- Research Project 1
This module allows students to research and explore in-depth a topic studied on a semester one module. Students will meet with their supervisor individually and in group sessions, undertake research and be assessed on the basis of a 5,000 word project.20 credits
- Sex, Race and Death: Feminist Perspectives on War, Violence and (In)Security
This unit produces a critical take on war, violence and security from feminist perspectives. Particular attention is focused on feminist theories that foreground the interconnectedness or 'intersectionality' of different power relations, including postcolonial, transnational and queer approaches. How are different forms and sites of violence connected? How do technologies of gender, sex and race shape understandings of certain forms of political violence as lawful, legitimate and necessary? What are the gendered legacies of (ongoing) histories of colonialism and imperialism? What are the (feminist) ethics of researching and possibly reproducing violence and suffering? Among the themes we will explore are the erotics of conquest and slavery; military masculinities; sexual violence in conflict; private military and security companies; torture and surveillance; women as agents of violence; Orientalism and the War on Terror; human rights and international law; imperial feminisms and just war theory; occupation and resistance.20 credits
- Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict
This module will address when, why, and how widespread sexual violence occurs in armed conflicts. The module will (1) examine how academics and international actors understand and research what sexual violence is and why it occurs in certain conflicts; (2) assess the international efforts to prosecute and prevent sexual violence in armed conflict; and (3) undertake in-depth case study analysis to assess the various long-term consequences of sexual violence in armed conflict for individuals, communities, and processes of reconciliation. Resultantly the module will assess what can be done to address this security issue and its numerous violent consequences.20 credits
- Terrorism, Violence and the State
This module aims to provide students with an understanding of the nature and legitimacy of forms of protest against the modern state. In particular the module focuses on issues of contemporary terrorism. However, in order to understand the nature and motivations of terrorism it is necessary to understand the nature of the modern state and other, non-violent forms of protest such as civil disobedience20 credits
- The Ethics of Political Leadership
This module investigates the ethics of political leadership via an engagement with the western tradition of political thought and contemporary analytical political theory. Its overall objective is to enable students to analyse and evaluate normative arguments on the significance and function of political leaders in contemporary politics. The module examines competing theories of leadership in their historical and intellectual contexts and a number of issues of contemporary ethical significance, including the problem of 'dirty hands', the nature of political integrity, and the ethics of political compromise. The approach is theoretical and philosophical and examples of political leaders will be used to highlight strengths and weaknesses of competing theories of leadership, and to emphasise their ideological assumptions and implications.20 credits
- The Making of the Modern Middle East
This module offers an interdisciplinary examination of the socio-economic and political dynamics of the modern Middle East by exploring the region's major historical developments from a non-Eurocentric perspective, and investigating how the region has been represented and analysed in the social sciences. Students will have the opportunity to reassess the imperial and colonial legacies by retracing the trajectories of state formation and economic development in the past two centuries. The overall aim is to equip students with the knowledge and skills to `de-exceptionalise' the Middle East and enable them to study it as any other region in the international system.20 credits
- The Politics of Security
This module explores the changing character of security studies and global (in)security, examining the proliferation of discourses and practices of security, threat, and risk in contemporary society. It introduces a range of advanced theoretical debates about security, exploring key concepts (including discourse, practice, identity, emancipation, securitization, and risk) and how they might help us to make sense of security politics by looking at a range of cases (such as terrorism, energy security, religion, technology and development). It asks you to think critically about the function of security, and the ethical and analytical assumptions that shape how security is theorised/practiced.20 credits
- Water, Climate, Energy
This module explores the place of water, climate and energy in global politics. Human-induced global climate change is one of the central challenges – perhaps the single greatest challenge – of our age. It is a consequence, above all, of our insatiable appetite for fossil fuel energy resources. And many of its most serious consequences are projected to relate to water, from increased floods and droughts to rising seas. Moreover, water, climate and energy issues are deeply political, in both their causes, and their current and anticipated future consequences. Adopting a political ecology approach, this module introduces and investigates this politics.20 credits
- Digital Health
This module looks at the social implications of digital technologies in health, considering what these mean for our experiences of health and illness as patients and as citizens, for the work of health care professionals, and for the provision of health care. The module will consider a range of contemporary areas such as self-tracking and gamifying health, telemedicine and care at a distance, health information on the net, electronic patient records, illness death and dying on the web, and health activism and online patient groups. Drawing across these, the module will consider questions about changing representations and cultures of health and illness, whether we can all be medical experts now, who has responsibility for health, how we relate to health care professionals, the commodification of health data and the relative benefits for state and industry.20 credits
- Digital Identities
This module explores how gender, age, race, class and other identities are being reimagined in what various commentators have called a `social media age. It provides students with an understanding of social media platforms roles in peoples identity negotiations, examining users social media identities in different global contexts, and paying close attention to the intersections between different identities. It reviews debates about identity formations from the earliest digital media moments and considers contemporary concerns, such as: anonymity and agency; selfies and sexting; censorship, resistance and collective identities; social media fandoms; masculinity and gaming.20 credits
- Extended Essay in Sociology
The extended essay module gives students the opportunity to undertake an independent in-depth, library-based study, on a topic of their own choosing, with support from a supervisor, plenary teaching and resources on MOLE. This will enable students to draw upon and develop both their knowledge and their thinking, to demonstrate their understanding of and ability to integrate the conceptual and substantive foundations laid in the earlier part of the programme, and to undertake a critical analysis of a topic relevant to sociology.20 credits
- Intimacy and Personal Relationships
The module explores approaches to theorising and studying intimacy and personal relationships. Beginning with the Individualisation thesis and its critics, the module will go on to explore recent moves towards conceptualising personal relationships in terms of embeddedness, relationality, intimacy and linked lives. Students will also explore a range of substantive topics within the field including memory, genealogy, material culture and home, marriage and sexuality, responsibility and care, and friendship.20 credits
- Organised Crime & Illicit Markets
The unit is an introduction to students to the growing field of organised crime studies. By focusing on an exploration of the primary literature concerning historical and contemporary developments in organised crime, students will be equipped to engage with sociological debates surrounding the development of this type of criminality, particularly its (alleged) increasingly transnational nature over the past two decades. In particular the unit will explore how governments and law enforcement agencies have tried to respond to this type of crime and will present a range of case studies specific to illicit marketplaces. The unit will also explore the role of the media and the influence of popular culture on the way organised crime is defined and understood.20 credits
- Perspectives on inequalities
This module is co-taught with local agency, community and family members. It asks students to think about the everyday experiences of inequality. It explores some of the core theoretical frameworks for interrogating inequality, and then explores everyday reality to apply the theories and concepts. The involvement of practitioners, community members and families means that the module is interactive and requires full attendance, in order to ensure a respectful experience for external contributors.20 credits
- Queer Theory and the Media
This module introduces queer theory and discusses the role of different media for how gender and sexuality are constructed, represented and expressed. We will trace activist and academic origins of the word `queer¿ and explore queer (self-)representations in mainstream and alternative media such as newspapers, films, zines, blogs, social media and dating apps. We will also look into how those representations promote or challenge the binaries of male versus female, masculine versus feminine, and heterosexual versus homosexual as well as how they travel around the world and promote particular understandings of gender and sexuality transnationally.20 credits
- Social Media, Data and Society
This unit 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.20 credits
- Sociology of Evil
Despite the increasing secularisation and rationalisation of society, evil is still an all too familiar term. For some it invokes images of devils, demons and witches, for others criminals, terrorists and murderers, whilst debates on the `social evils' of poverty, prostitution and alcohol are continually recycled for each generation. This module aims to introduce students to a sociological approach to evil by asking them to develop their own innovative case-studies of evil in combination with published research. They will be asked to: explore the ontology of evil; examine how evil is explained and accounted for; investigate the consequences of evil; develop an understanding concerning the representation of evil and assess the aetiological precedents for that representation; and, ultimately, critically determine the role evil has within society.20 credits
- Sociology of Health, Illness and Medicine
This module explores sociological aspects of health, illness and medicine. It will focus on issues of health inequality exploring the ways in which patterns of health and disease vary according to class, gender and race. It also provides a critical examination of biomedicine, highlighting the contemporary challenges faced by medicine as a profession. Furthermore, it will focus on new dynamic developments in science and medicine linking health with the Internet and exploring the rise of the new genetics. The aim of this course is to provide students with a critical understanding of the role of health, illness and medicine within contemporary society.20 credits
- The Sociology of Surveillance
The course aims to introduce students to the emerging field of surveillance studies. By focusing on an exploration of the primary literature concerning recent development in surveillance theory students will be equipped to engage with sociological debates surrounding the spread of new surveillance technologies. In particular the course will explore how `surveillant solutions' have become a dominant form of governance in the 21st century by focusing on case studies of surveillance in particular contexts such as policing and criminal justice, health and welfare, the work place, and consumer behaviour.20 credits
- The Value of Sociology
This module builds on the subject-specific knowledge and skills that students have acquired at levels 1 and 2. Students will have the opportunity to reflect on both the value of Sociology as a discipline and the value of their degree programme overall. A critical assessment of the state of the discipline will be explored through a series of lectures delivered by a range of lecturers, leading to a series of workshop-type seminars in which students will reflect on the usefulness of what they have learned during their degree and how to communicate this to an external audience. Students will develop enterprise skills within the context of the discipline they are studying and enhance their understanding of the inter-connection between Sociology, the skills they have developed and their application in the wider world.20 credits
- What it means to be human
New scientific knowledge in evolutionary biology, psychology and neuroscience is making powerful claims about `human nature¿ that are reconstructing how we understand ourselves. At the same time, powerful new technologies have the potential to reshape our bodies and brains. This module aims to critically engage with these developments using concepts from a number of sociological traditions. Can biology tell us anything meaningful about social interaction? What is the nature of choice and agency? Is biology relevant to understanding racial and gender differences? Does our psychology have an evolutionary basis? How are the boundaries between humans and machines changing? Should we use new technologies to enhance ourselves? The module will address and seek to answer these and other important questions.20 credits
- Whiteness, Power and Privilege
This unit explores the importance of studying whiteness in order to understand racism as a system of power relationships. It explains why the construction of whiteness has become a key focus in debates about race and ethnicity and examines critically some of the key themes to emerge in this field of study. This includes exploring the historical origins of `white studies' and assessing representations of whiteness in literary and visual culture. It also includes exploring the racialised, classed and gendered boundaries of whiteness by examining, for example, the socially and politically constructed categories of `white trash' and the `chav'.20 credits
The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's 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.
Learning and assessment
Our lectures and seminars are structured in a variety of ways to ensure a rich, interactive learning experience that you can take with you in your future career. You'll create websites, videos and podcasts as part of your group work to enhance your digital skills. Other uses of digital learning, such as interactive polls, allows collaboration during lectures and seminars, and we use skype so that external speakers can interact with our students.
We use different assessment methods throughout our courses this varies between modules. Examples include:
- Short forms of written assessment
- Book reviews
- Policy reports
- Oral presentation and group work
This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.
With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible
The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
A Levels + additional qualifications | BBB + B in the EPQ; BBB + B in Core Maths BBB + B in the EPQ; BBB + B in Core Maths
International Baccalaureate | 33 32
BTEC | DDD DDD
Scottish Highers | AAABB AABBB
Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels | B + AB B + BB
Access to HE Diploma | 60 credits overall in a relevant subject (Business Studies/ Management, Humanities, Law, Social Sciences) with Distinctions in 30 Level 3 credits and Merits in 15 Level 3 credits. 60 credits overall in a relevant subject (Business Studies/ Management, Humanities, Law, Social Sciences) with Distinctions in 24 Level 3 credits and Merits in 9 Level 3 credits.
Mature students - explore other routes for mature students
You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade 4/C; IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification
BTEC relevant subject areas required are either Applied Law, Business, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, Personal and Business Finance, Applied Psychology, Applied Science or Environmental Sustainability. No other subjects are accepted
GCSE Maths grade 4 or grade C or equivalent
If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.
Department of Politics and International Relations
We are proud to be one of the UK's leading departments for research and teaching in politics and international relations.
We have over 50 specialists in the key areas of politics and international relations working at the cutting edge of the discipline on issues such as: Brexit, transgender politics, animal rights, environmentalism, populism and Middle East Politics. This research directly shapes and inspires what you're taught on all levels of our programmes.
We were the first department to pioneer the 'Parliamentary Studies' undergraduate module that's accredited and co-taught by the House of Commons.
Department of Politics and International Relations students are based in Elmfield building, but we timetable teaching across the whole of our campus.
Teaching may take place in Elmfield, but may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space. Many of the University buildings are close together so it’s easy to walk between them and it’s a good way to get to know the city.
Department of Sociological Studies
You'll learn about key concepts like community, identity and welfare. Our degrees explore important sociological issues including crime, migration, gender and poverty.
Our world-leading research shapes our teaching, so you're always challenged and up to date. Our interdisciplinary approach brings sociologists, social policy analysts and social workers together under one roof.
Our staff are experts in their field and work with organisations in the UK and worldwide, bringing fresh perspectives to your studies. They'll give you the advice and support you need to excel in your subject. There are around 130 places available on our courses.
Department staff also play key roles in the Faculty of Social Science's Digital Society Network (DSN), an active group of researchers working on all aspects of digital-society relations. The DSN hosts events and activities to stimulate and support research in this area.
Our courses develop students who are socially aware, with strong analytical skills and a flair for approaching problems in new ways. You'll become skilled at research and bring your own insights to key issues that affect our lives. In your third year, specialist modules allow you to investigate current thinking on a wide range of topics. You'll learn about the latest research from subject experts and explore your ideas in workshop-style sessions.
Department of Sociological Studies students are based in the picturesque Elmfield building where our staff have their offices and some seminar and small-group teaching takes place. Teaching may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space.
All the University buildings are close together so, it’s easy to get around. The University Sports Centre is just next door, and accommodation, the Information Commons and the award-winning Students’ Union are all within easy walking distance.
Why choose Sheffield?
The University of Sheffield
A Top 100 university 2021
QS World University Rankings
Top 10% of all UK universities
Research Excellence Framework 2014
No 1 Students' Union in the UK
Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019, 2018, 2017
No 1 in the north for graduate employment
The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020
Department of Politics and International Relations
Research Excellence Framework 2014
The Complete University Guide 2020
The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020
The Complete University Guide 2020
Department of Sociological Studies
Research Excellence Framework 2014
Department of Politics and International Relations
A politics degree from Sheffield can set you apart from everyone else. You'll have many opportunities across all levels of your course to add valuable work experience and transferable skills to your CV.
Our degree programmes are designed so you can tailor your course to your own interests and career aspirations. They also provide a foundation to go on to work in a wide range of professional, political and administrative organisations across the world, in local, national, and international government, the charitable sector, education, the media, public relations, research and the private sector.
Department of Sociological Studies
Our graduates work in a range of sectors including broadcasting, the police service, teaching and social work. They are also employed in local government, the civil service, charity and campaign organisations and market research.
Some have carried out graduate training with national and international companies, and are employed around the world. Many go on to masters courses in sociology and social policy and other areas such as human resources.
You could pursue a career in marketing, communications and PR, or work in museums, theatres or charitable organisations.
Placement and study abroad
We have a range of options for studying abroad within Europe or further afield - including the USA, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong. In addition, on most of our degrees you can upgrade to a four year Degree with International Experience, during which you spend your third year abroad studying or working - or a combination of the two.
We also offer the Degree with Employment Experience option. This allows you to spend a year taking a work placement in government, a private company, an international organisation or a charity.
In your final year you can also choose to write a work-based learning dissertation, a piece of research that solves a real-world problem for an organisation.
Fees and funding
The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.
Funding your study
Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.
Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you're eligible for.
University open days
There are four open days every year, usually in June, July, September and October. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.
At various times in the year we run online taster sessions to help Year 12 students experience what it is like to study at the University of Sheffield.
If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our applicant days, which take place between November and April. These applicant days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.
Campus tours run regularly throughout the year, at 1pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Apply for this course
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