Not available in 2019/20
Personal Life, Intimacy and the Family

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Ursula Henz STC S100B


This course is available on the BSc in Language, Culture and Society, 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

The course provides an overview over the area of family sociology, drawing predominantly on literature about Britain and other Western societies. The course focuses on recent and ongoing transformations of family structure, family relationships and family life. Throughout the course various theoretical approaches will be considered. Issues related to gender, ethnicity and migration will be cross-cutting themes of the course. Indicative topics are: family structures and family relationships, childhood, adolescence, partnership formation, marriage, childlessness, motherhood, fatherhood, parenting, divorce, post-divorce families, family and work, family and education.


25 hours of workshops in the MT. 25 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of classes in the ST.

Reading weeks: week 6 MT and week 6 LT.

Formative coursework

Students are required to complete at least one class presentation and two formative essays

Indicative reading

  • Treas, Judith, Scott, Jacqueline & Richards, Martin (eds.) (2014) The Wiley Blackwell Companion to The Sociology of Families, Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell - covers many aspects of the course.

Other recommended readings include:

  • Beck, Ulrich & Beck-Gernsheim, Elisabeth (1995): The Normal Chaos of Love. London: Polity Press.
  • Chambers, Deborah (2012): A Sociology of Family Life. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Giddens, Anthony (1992): The Transformation of Intimacy. Sexuality, Love and Eroticism in Modern Societies. Oxford : Polity Press.
  • Hochschild, Arlie (1990): The Second Shift. Working Parents and the Revolution at Home. London: Piatkus.
  • Jamieson, Lynn (1998): Intimacy: Personal Relationships in Modern Societies. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Lareau, Annette (2011): Unequal Childhoods. Class, Race and Family Life. University of California Press: Berkeley, Los Angeles, London.
  • Smart, Carol & Neale, Bren (1999): Family Fragments? Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Smart, Carol, Neale, Bren & Wade, Amanda (2001): The Changing Experience of Childhood: Families and Divorce. Cambridge: Polity Press.


Take-home assessment (50%) and research report (50%) in the ST.

Two hard copies of the research report, with submission sheets attached to each, to be handed in to the Administration Office, S116, no later than 16:30 on the second Wednesday of Summer Term. An additional copy to be uploaded to Moodle no later than 18:00 on the same day.

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
First 15.6
2:1 62.2
2:2 13.3
Third 0
Fail 8.9

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2018/19: 14

Average class size 2018/19: 14

Capped 2018/19: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills