Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2005-2006 (archived)




Type Open Level 2 Credits 40 Availability Available in 2005/06 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Conceptualizing Society (SOCI1331).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide an understanding of some of the key theoretical perspectives within sociological inquiry through the interrogation of its classical and more recent forms.
  • To enable students to weigh up the relative strengths of alternative theoretical perspectives according to such considerations as consistency.
  • Logic and breadth of explanatory power.
  • To provide a forum in which students can actively deploy theoretical approaches within a framework of relativistic reasoning.


  • The module will be divided structurally into two segments.
  • The first segment using a traditional lecture and tutorial format will focus on individual theorists and schools of thought.
  • Substantively this segment will be divided into four parts: Classical Approaches, Subjects and Subjectivism, Structuralism, Post-Structuralism and Post-Modernism, Theorising Modernity.
  • The second section will combine lectures and workshops.
  • The workshops will be divided into eight substantive topics as detailed in the module outline.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students will be able to: render intelligibly what are difficult debates, recognise the importance of sociological theory, give an account of the importance of the role of theory in sociology, use specific theoretical approaches in analysing substantive material, deploy analytical and information seeking skills, deploy IT skills, enhance team working skills, deploy skills of making reasoned arguments in written or oral assignments, skills of planning and time management.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module students will have demonstrated an ability to:
  • Evaluate sociological arguments and evidence.
  • Use abstract sociological concepts with confidence.
  • Analyse and evaluate the epistemological stance of specific theoretical approaches.
  • Deploy relativistic reasoning in relation the strengths and weaknesses of specific theoretical approaches.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of the module students will have demonstrated an ability to:
  • deploy and develop abstract thought.
  • engage in reasoned argument.
  • use IT resources, including interactive applications.
  • gather necessary information from a variety of sources both bibliographic and electronic.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures provide students with students with substantive information, indicate the main issues to be considered and introduce the main themes, interpretations and arguments of the substantive material.
  • They encourage students to develop skills of listening, selective note-taking and an appreciation of how information may be structured and presented to others.
  • Tutorials will be organised around themes for discussion and will have designated reading.
  • Tutorials provide the opportunity for students to present and develop their own understanding of relevant materials, encourage them to develop transferable skills (e.g. oral communications, group work skills), subject specific skills (e.g. competence in using theoretical perspectives in sociology, the ability to formulate sociologically informed questions) and general skills (e.g. judging and evaluating evidence, assessing the merits of competing arguments and explanations, making reasoned arguments).
  • Student led workshops will be developed, the preparation for which will involve staff led discussion groups using the 'blackboard' software.
  • This will provide students with the opportunity to develop their ICT skills.
  • In planning, preparing and delivering the workshops students will develop organisational skills, together with other transferable skills (e.g. developing confidence in public speaking and presentation, managing group work).
  • Students will also spend time in self-directed study, individually and in groups as they prepare for special tutorial, workshop and essay assignments.
  • Formative assignments require students to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of module topics and provide the opportunity of feedback on such knowledge and understanding.
  • A summative assessed essay requires students to demonstrate more detailed and extended knowledge of one area of sociological theorisation.
  • A summative examination tests students abilities to collate, integrate, summarise and express their knowledge and understanding of a range of module materials.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 30 2 Per Week in Term 1. 1 Per Week in Terms 2 & 3. 1 Hour 30
Tutorials 10 1 Per Week in Term 1. 1 Hour 10
Seminars 9 1 Per Week in Term 2. 2 Hours 18
Guided Discussions on 'Blackboard' 2 8 Hours over Terms 1 & 2. 8 Hours 8
Preparation and Reading 332

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
one 4000-5000 word essay 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
one three-hour unseen examination 100%

Formative Assessment:

One 3000 word essay in term one, Two workshop presentations in term two.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University