module specification

SS5008 - Self and Society (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Self and Society
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Essay 1: 2,500 words
Coursework 50%   Essay 2: 2,500 words
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Friday Morning

Module summary

This module introduces students to some of the key sociological approaches used to explore and explain the sociological notion of ‘self’. This will involve an examination of a range of major 20th century sociological thinkers on the nature of the social construction of self eg. Mead, Goffman. The intention is to use some of the major sociological theorists and apply their insights into current concerns with the ‘project’ of self and identity. That is, to examine how much choice we have in becoming who we are. The opportunity to ‘apply’ the sociological approaches to a range of issues/areas will engage a range of interests/students. The ‘project of the self’ in contemporary society will be used to explore this key sociological concept, drawing on recent developments in the sociology of emotions, religion, and deviancy.

Module aims

A1. To introduce students to a range of neo-classical sociological theories and perspectives on the relationship between the individual and society.
A2. To provide students with an opportunity to examine the nature of the structure-agency debate in relation to a range of substantive topics e.g. ‘identity’, community, time and emotions.
A3. To provide students with an opportunity to explore the structure-agency sociological debate in the context of contemporary social change and everyday life


Self and Society; Structure vs. Agency; Micro vs. Macro
Marx – Material basis of society
Durkheim – Moral basis of society
Weber – Interaction as basis of society
Concept of Self – Mead, Cooley, Thomas
Presentation of Self – Goffman
Social Identity
Consensus Theories – Parsons and Merton
Conflict Theories – Dahrendorf, Collins
Social Stratification and Inequalities

Learning and teaching

Teaching methods are tailored to key aspects of the learning situation such as content, task and learner characteristics. In common with the ethos and practice of the faculty, the teaching and learning methods used to deliver this module aims are varied. There is an emphasis upon the link between teaching and research so that research by staff provides the basis for teaching on some of the topics covered in the module.
Learning is also guided by reading and resources that are made available through the VLE. The module therefore integrates face-to-face with online learning.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
(LO1) distinguish and evaluate a number of sociological traditions in terms of the different conceptions of the relationship between social structure and the individual.
(LO2) identify and critically apply the key sociological concepts used to explain the relationship between the individual and society.
(LO3) apply the concept of ‘self’ and ‘identity’ to contemporary social issues;
(LO4) debate the strengths and weaknesses of the various sociological conceptions of the ‘self’.

Assessment strategy

The assessment is designed to ensure that all the learning outcomes are met and that students engage in the module syllabus as a whole. The first essay focuses on the perspectives introduced in weeks 1-14 and uses the concept of ‘identity’ as a basis for comparing and contrasting some key sociological approaches. This will encourage students to build on and demonstrate their critical understanding of ‘agency’ and ‘structure’ as explored in the earlier part of their course. (LO 1, 2 ,4)

The second essay will address the application of the sociological perspectives to a contemporary social issue/phenomenon. This will involve students choosing a substantive topic of their own interest. It will thereby enable us to assess their ability to identify and critically apply the theoretical and conceptual understanding acquired in the first part of the module. (LO 1-4)

Both essays carry equal weighting of 50%. 2500 words each


Adams, M. (2007) Self and Social Change, London: Sage
Bauman, Z. & May, T. (2001) Thinking Sociologically 2nd Ed., London: Blackwell
Best, S. (2003) A Beginner’s Guide to Social Theory, London: Sage
Burkitt, I. (2008) Social Selves, 2ndEdn., London: Sage
Cheal, D. (2005) Dimensions of Sociological Theory, Basingstoke: Palgrave
Giddens, A (1991) The Consequences of Modernity, Cambridge: Polity
Goffman, E. (1969) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Harmondsworth: Penguin
Lopez, J & Scott, J. (2000) Social Structure, Open Univ. Press
O’Donnell, M (2000) Classical and Contemporary Sociology, London: Hodder& Stoughton
Parker, J. et al (2003) Social Theory: A basic tool kit, Basingstoke: Palgrave
Roberts, B. (2006) Micro Social Theory, Palgrave