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Unit information: Introduction to the Social Sciences in 2017/18

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Unit name Introduction to the Social Sciences
Unit code SPOL00001
Credit points 40
Level of study QCA-3
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Pantazis
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 School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This 40 credit point unit aims to introduce international students to the social sciences. It has two main themes:

The first theme focuses on ‘understanding society’. With an emphasis on contemporary British society, politics and culture, 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 and political challenges’. Introducing students to topics such as globalisation, terrorism and political violence, poverty, and human rights, it draws upon the research undertaken within the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law at the University of Bristol.

Cross-cutting these two themes is the unit’s focus on developing students’ skills in order to equip them to study in the social sciences.

The specific aims of the unit are:

  1. To introduce students to the study of contemporary society, focusing on British society, politics, and culture, but also international/comparative examples and perspectives;
  2. To introduce students to the range of issues investigated within the social sciences;
  3. To introduce students to the various disciplines that constitute the social sciences from which they may consider for study at undergraduate level as a result of progression from the Foundation Programme in the Social Sciences and Law;
  4. To familiarise students with the types of evidence and data commonly used in the social sciences and encourage an awareness of their strengths and limitations;
  5. To introduce students to seminar-style discussion led by an academic member of staff and help students develop the skills for their own successful contribution;
  6. To encourage students’ essay planning and writing in the social sciences including the different referencing systems used in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law at Bristol.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, the students will be able demonstrate that they have the following:

  1. An understanding of society, with a particular focus on contemporary British society, politics, culture;
  2. An understanding of a range of contemporary issues investigated by social scientists;
  3. An appreciation 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/political issues;

An understanding of skills which are required within the social sciences such as those relating to using data sources, using theory, critical appraisal and critical thinking, essay writing, articulating arguments, presentation skills and contributing to seminar-style discussions.

Teaching details

The unit will consist of 2 hours per week spread over 24 weeks. The first hour will normally consist of an interactive style lecture on the substantive topic to allow opportunities for questions and discussion. The second hour will normally take the form of a seminar using material from or relating to the lecture to focus on developing the students’ study skills.

Assessment Details

Students will have four pieces of assessment:

Assessment for Learning (formative):

1 x 750-1000 word formative essay assessing ILOs 1, and 3 and parts of 4

1 x 7-8 minute presentation assessing ILOs 1, and 3 and parts of 4 (pass or fail)

Assessment of Learning (Summative):

1 x 1500 word max summative essay assessing ILOs 2, 3 and parts of 4 (50% of final assessment mark)

1 x 1.5 hour summative exam assessing ILOs 1, 2,3, and parts of 4 (50% of final assessment mark)

Credit points will be awarded for successful submission of formative essay and presentation and passing the summative assessment.

Reading and References

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