SO469      Half Unit
Risk and Governance: A Sociological Approach

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Bridget Hutter STC S217


This course is available on the MSc in Accounting, Organisations and Institutions, MSc in Culture and Society, MSc in Economy, Risk and Society , MSc in Environmental Economics and Climate Change, MSc in Environmental Policy and Regulation, MSc in Political Sociology, MSc in Regulation, MSc in Risk and Finance, MSc in Sociology and MSc in Sociology (Research). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course aims to give students an advanced understanding of the various ways in which risk is governed in modern societies and an appreciation of the complexities of different levels of risk governance.

It will consider three main areas. First, state based risk governance regimes; second, risk governance beyond the state; and third transnational risk governance. The topics under consideration include a critical discussion of what is regarded as risk evidence and the role of experts in policy making; how state regulators incorporate risk based approaches into their governance regimes; the role of insurance companies and other business organizations in risk governance; the role of the public; and attempts to governance risks which traverse national borders. The course will draw on examples from a variety of domains including the environment, finance, biotechnology and food.


25 hours of seminars in the MT.

Reading week: week 6.

Formative coursework

Students should hand in one 2,000 word formative essay.

Indicative reading

Ericson, R.V., Doyle, A. and Barry, D. (2003) Insurance as Governance University of Toronto Press. Hood, C., Rothstein, H. and Baldwin, R. (2001) The Government of Risk. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hutter, BM (2010) (ed) Anticipating Risk Cambridge University Press. Renn, O. (2008) Risk Governance. London (Earthscan) Chapters 1 and 9. Lahsen, Myanna (2005) ‘Technocracy, Democracy, and U.S. Climate Politics: The Need for Demarcations’. Science, Technology & Human Values, 30, 137-169.


Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the LT.

Two hard copies of the assessed essay, with submission sheets attached to each, to be handed in to the Administration Office, S116, no later than 16:30 on the second Thursday of Lent Term. An additional copy to be uploaded to Moodle no later than 18:00 on the same day.

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 18.5
Merit 69.1
Pass 8.6
Fail 3.7

Teachers' comment

This course is convened by Professor Bridget Hutter and taught by her and Dr Leon Wansleben. It is an intensive sociology course requiring high levels of student participation. In the years it has run students have produced some excellent work leading the external examiner to comment ‘‘In general I thought the high percentage of 70+ marks here was amply justified. I am lost in admiration for the lecturer(s) who managed to extract such, particularly work of such theoretical sophistication’.

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2015/16: 28

Average class size 2015/16: 28

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills