Political Sociology

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Robin Archer, STC.S114a


This course is available on the BSc in Accounting and Finance, BSc in Social Policy and Sociology and BSc in Sociology. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

Political Sociology concerns the way in which political and social factors interact to produce the societies in which we live. This course aims to discuss some central empirical and theoretical questions in the field. The course begins by examining classic comparative debates about the relationship between the development of the state and democracy on the one hand, and the rise of capitalism and liberalism on the other. We will then examine the impact that social cleavages have on parties, elections and other political institutions in a number of different countries. We will examine the strength and political impact of both labour movements and other important social movements. And we will examine why similar countries can develop very different social and economic policies. In addition we will examine some of the founding writings of Marx, Weber and Tocqueville and critically assess the use of political concepts. Throughout the course we will consider some of the main theoretical approaches that are used in the study of political sociology.


10 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 4 hours of lectures and 4 hours of classes in the ST.

Reading weeks: week 6 MT and week 6 LT.

Formative coursework

At least one class presentation and a termly paper in both MT and LT.

Indicative reading

R Dalton, Citizen Politics, 5th edn; G Esping-Andersen, The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism; E. Gellner, Nations and Nationalism; A Giddens, Capitalism and Modern Social Theory;  R Inglehart, Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society; J Manza & C Brooks, Social Cleavages and Political Change; F. Piven and R. Cloward, Poor People’s Movements; D. Rueschemeyer et al, Capitalist Development and Democracy; T Skocpol, States and Social Revolutions; S Tarrow, Power in Movement.


Exam (70%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (30%, 2500 words) in the ST.

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 Summer Term. An additional copy to be uploaded to Moodle no later than 18:00 on the same day.

Attendance at all classes and submission of all set coursework is required.

Student performance results

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

Classification % of students
First 18.2
2:1 79.5
2:2 0
Third 0
Fail 2.3

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2016/17: 13

Average class size 2016/17: 7

Capped 2016/17: Yes (30)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

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

Course survey results

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

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

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 67%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)