Political Sociology

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Robert Archer STC.S114a


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

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 states and nations on the one hand, and the rise of capitalism and democracy 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 and Weber 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.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, online materials and classes totalling a minimum of 40 hours across MT and LT.

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

A 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 summer exam period.
Essay (30%, 2500 words) in the ST.

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

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

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
First 22.9
2:1 70.8
2:2 4.2
Third 0
Fail 2.1

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2019/20: 18

Average class size 2019/20: 10

Capped 2019/20: Yes (30)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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