SO426      Half Unit
Classical Social Thought

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Nigel Dodd STC S106


This course is available on the MSc in Culture and Society, MSc in Political Sociology, MSc in Sociology, MSc in Sociology (Contemporary Social Thought) and MSc in Sociology (Research). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

A review of classical social theory. The origins and development of classical sociological theory; exploring the work of Marx, Weber, Simmel and Durkheim through a close reading and interpretation of primary tests. It is not assumed that students have a basic grounding in classical social theory, although it is expected that students who register for this course will be prepared to develop their understanding through primary readings, and not rely on textbooks.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the MT.

Reading week: week 6 (MT)

Indicative reading

Relevant books that provide an overview include: A Callinicos, Social Theory; N Dodd, Social Theory and Modernity; A Giddens, Capitalism and Modern Social Theory; G Ritzer, Sociological Theory. The reading list for each seminar will be divided up into essential and additional reading. Students will be asked to read between 50 and 100 pages of primary text per week. The following is a sample list of readings: Marx, K: The Communist Manifesto & Capital (sections of vols 1 & 3); Weber, M: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism & 'Science as a Vocation'; Simmel, G: The Philosophy of Money (various sections) & various essays such as 'The Metropolis and Mental Life', 'The Stranger', etc.; Durkheim, E: The Division of Labour in Society & The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (various sections from each).


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 first Thursday of Lent Term. An additional copy to be uploaded to Moodle no later than 18:00 on the same day. Attendance at all seminars and submission of all set coursework is required.

Student performance results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 30.3
Merit 47
Pass 16.7
Fail 6.1

Teachers' comment

The course is designed for students who haven't studied this material before, although there is plenty here too for those who just want to dig more deeply into the work of the four thinkers. I encourage students to read these theorists not just in terms of the history of ideas (important as this is) but also in a present day context. This is the focus of the classes that accompany each lecture.

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2014/15: 18

Average class size 2014/15: 9

Controlled access 2014/15: No

Lecture capture used 2014/15: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 86.1%



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