SO427      Half Unit
Modern Social Thought

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Nigel Dodd STC S106


This course is available on the MSc in Political Sociology, MSc in Political Theory and MSc in Sociology. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

Contemporary social theory. An introduction to the historical background, context and output of Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Michel Foucault, and Jean Baudrillard, and a close reading and study of some of their most significant texts.


30 hours of seminars in the LT.

Reading Weeks: Students on this course will have a reading week in LT Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

One formative essay in LT

Indicative reading

The following is merely a sample list of some of the texts to be covered: Benjamin, W: 'Theses on the philosophy of history' & The Arcades Project (Section N); Adorno, T: 'Theses against Occultism' & Negative Dialectics (various sections); Foucault, M: The History of Madness & The Order of Things (various sections); Baudrillard, J: Symbolic Exchange and Death (mainly chapter 5) & The Spirit of Terrorism. A number of secondary readings will be recommended, but students will be strongly discouraged from relying on these.


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

An electronic copy of the assessed essay, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the first Tuesday of Summer Term. 

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

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 24.3
Merit 40.2
Pass 29.9
Fail 5.6

Teachers' comment

I really enjoy teaching this course and have been very fortunate over the years to have had some fantastic students from several LSE departments taking it. The seminars are quite open ended and informal, but they work only because students get through a lot of reading. Please bear this in mind before signing up - it's hard work!

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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