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Unit information: Key Social Thinkers in 2018/19

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Unit name Key Social Thinkers
Unit code SOCI10006
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. McLennan
Open unit status Open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit discusses the contribution and continuing relevance of major sociological theorists of the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries, such as Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, W.E.B. Du Bois and Charlotte Perkins Gilman.


  • To introduce the central ideas of some key founding thinkers in sociological theory.
  • To consider and debate what it means to be a sociological ‘classic’.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to

  • Demonstrate good understanding of a range of classic sociological authors (1)
  • Utilise concepts of modernity, social structure, culture & ideology, and sociological ‘self-images’ in expositing the work of key social thinkers (2)
  • Develop their own considered views about the merits of the featured classics, and on the nature and significance of the sociological traditions more generally (3)

Teaching details

1 x 2hr lecture and 1 hour seminar.

Assessment Details

  • 1500 word essay covering topics in the first half of the unit (25%)
  • Two hour examination (75%)

Both elements assess ILOs 1, 2, and 3

Reading and References

  • Calhoun, C., Classical Sociological Theory
  • Craib, I., Classical Social Theory
  • Fevre, R., and Bancroft, A., Dead White Men and Other Important People: sociology’s big ideas
  • Giddens, A., Capitalism And Modern Social Theory
  • McIntosh, I., Classical Sociological Theory: a reader
  • McLennan., G. Story of Sociology
  • Ritzer, G., Classical 'Sociological Theory