Power, Inequality, and Difference: Contemporary Themes in Sociology

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Fran Tonkiss STC.S205


This course is compulsory on the BSc in Language, Culture and Society and BSc in Sociology. This course is available on the BA in Geography, BA in Social Anthropology, BSc in International Social and Public Policy, BSc in Politics, BSc in Politics and International Relations, BSc in Social Anthropology, BSc in Social Policy and BSc in Social Policy and Sociology. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

The course provides an introduction to critical areas of theory and analysis in contemporary sociology. Students will gain an understanding of leading-edge research and debates within the discipline, and of how sociology engages with key real-world problems. The sociological issues covered in the course centre on the ways in which power relations, social and economic inequalities, forms of identity and difference are shaped in contemporary societies – focusing on both formal political and socio-economic structures and everyday experiences and identities. These issues include: class, capitals and social mobility; race, ethnicity and multi-culturalism; politics, social movements and the nation-state; gender, sexuality and the body.


10 hours of lectures and 13 hours and 30 minutes of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of classes in the LT.

Revision sessions in the ST.

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

Two formative essays in MT, one formative essay in LT.

Indicative reading

M. Savage, Social Class in the 21st Century (2015); B. Skeggs, Formations of Class and Gender (1997); L Back and J Solomos (Eds), Theories of Race and Racism: A Reader (2000); A Gutmann (Ed), Multiculturalism: Examining the Poliitcs of Recognition (1994); B Anderson, Imagined Communities (1983); E Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (1983); M. Flinders, Defending Politics: Why Democracy Matters in the Twenty-First Century (2012); S Jackson & S Scott (Eds), Gender: A Sociological Reader (2002); K Woodward (Ed), Questioning Identity: Gender, Class and Ethnicity (2004); G Bhattacharyya Sexuality and Society (2002); D Bell and J Binnie, The Sexual Citizen: Queer Politics and Beyond (2000).


Exam (70%, duration: 3 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (30%, 3000 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 is required and submission of all set coursework is compulsory.

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2018/19: 74

Average class size 2018/19: 15

Capped 2018/19: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication