Social Scientific Analysis of Inequalities

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Sam Friedman STC S216


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Inequalities and Social Science. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

The course will consider interdisciplinary approaches to inequality, focusing on (a) how inequality can be conceptualised and explained, (b) how it can be measured and (c) ethical and political issues. Topics to be covered include patterns and trends in economic inequalities; gender, ethnicity, class and age; cultural aspects of inequality; social and intergenerational mobility; global and comparative perspectives; geographical and neighbourhood polarisation; health and educational inequalities; media representation of inequalities; ethical and philosophical approaches; the impact of government, law and social policy.


15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT. 15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT. 3 hours of classes in the ST.

The course is taught in 20 x one-and-a-half hour lectures, plus 10 x one-and-a-half hour seminars in MT and 10 x one-and-a-half-hour seminars in LT. It is divided into blocks of related lectures and linked seminars. The ST class is a revision class.


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

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT and 1 mock exam in the LT.

Indicative reading

Branko Milanovic, Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization (Harvard University Press, 2016)

Piketty, T.  Capital in the 21st Century (Harvard University Press, 2013)

Hartley Dean and Lucinda Platt, Social Advantage and Disadvantage (Oxford, 2016)

Graeber, D. Debt: The First 5000 Years. New York. Melville Publishing

O'Neil, C. 2016 Weapons of Math Destruction. London: Allen Lane

Hickel, J. (2017) The Divide: A Brief Guild to Global Inequality and its Solutions. William Heinemann. London.

Federici, S. (2004) Caliban and the Witch: Women: The Body and Primitive Accumulation. New York. Autonomedia.


Essay (30%, 3000 words) and presentation (20%) in the LT.
Take home exam (50%) in the ST.

The presentation will be from a group exercise in the LT.

An electronic copy of the assessed essay, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the submission day. The essay is due by the first day of LT

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

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 33.8
Merit 58.8
Pass 7.4
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2018/19: 38

Average class size 2018/19: 15

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills