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Unit information: Introduction to the Social Sciences in 2020/21

Unit name Introduction to the Social Sciences
Unit code LANG00042
Credit points 20
Level of study QCA-3
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Mr. Sarda
Open unit status Not open

IELTS 5.5 with a minimum of 5.0 in writing and 5.0 in each part of the test



School/department Centre for Academic Language and Development
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This is a 20-credit unit within the International Foundation Programme which aims to introduce students to the social sciences. It has two main themes:

The first theme focuses on ‘understanding society’. With an emphasis on contemporary society, it introduces students to the diverse range of social science subjects which can be studied at the University of Bristol.

The second theme focuses on ‘contemporary social challenges’ and introduces students to topics such as global development, the changing state of childhood, crime and deviance, social stratification and inequalities.

The specific aims of the unit are:

  1. To introduce students to the study of contemporary society, focusing on international / comparative examples and perspectives
  2. To introduce students to the range of issues investigated within the social sciences
  3. To familiarise students with the theories and types of research methods commonly used in the social sciences and encourage an awareness of their strengths and limitations

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate an understanding of key concepts and theories of society, with a particular focus on contemporary society
  2. demonstrate an understanding of the range of subjects that make up the social sciences and how they contribute, in their unique and overlapping ways, to the study of society and social issues
  3. apply theories of society to contemporary social issues
  4. evaluate theories of society and research methods in terms of strengths and limitations

Teaching details

Students will attend 3 hours of study per week. Learning is facilitated in sessions involving a combination of teacher-led input, combined with practical, workshop-style exercises. On-line delivery of materials through Blackboard VLE

Assessment Details

Formative assessment:

  • Small group presentations delivered in class with formative peer and tutor feedback
    *Regular case studies with formative feedback
    *1,000 word essay with formative feedback

Summative assessment:

  • Essay (1,000 words) (40%) ILOs 1, 3, 4
    *Essay (1,500 words) (60%) ILOs 2, 3

Reading and References

Readings from a range of sources will be used to support and underpin individual activities. However, the following are indicative texts for students wishing for a general reading in the subject:

Baldock, J., Mitton, L. Manning N. and S. Vickerstaff (2011, 4th Ed.). Social Policy, Buckingham: Oxford University Press.

Garner, R., Ferdinand, P. Lawson, S. (2012) Introduction to Politics, Buckingham: Oxford University Press.

Giddens, A. (2013, 7th Ed.) Sociology, London: Polity.

Fulcher, J and Scott,J (2011, 4th Ed.) Sociology, Milton: Keynes: OUP.

Qvortrup J, Corsaro W A and Honig M-S (2011) (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Childhood Studies, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan