SO310      Half Unit
The Sociology of Elites

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Michael Savage STC S210


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 with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

This course has a limited number of places (it is capped). Places are allocated on a first come first served basis.


No specific pre-requisites, but this course is not available as a first year option.

Course content

In the early 21st century, there is a new fascination with the super-rich, the 1%, the 'elites'. This course therefore aims to expose students to the challenges and excitements of studying this small but very significant social class, using cutting edge research on recent trends as well as important older studies.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars and online materials totalling a minimum of 20 hours in the LT, and 1 hour in the ST.

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

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.

Formative assessment will be through a 2000 word essay to be handed in on the Monday of Week 7, directly after Reading Week. Students will also be asked to give presentations in seminars, and informal feedback will be given on these.

Indicative reading

  • Piketty, T., (2014), Capital in the 21st Century, Boston, Harvard UP.
  • Khan, S., (2010), Privilege, Princeton, Princeton UP.
  • Dorling, D., (2014), Inequality and the 1%, London, Verso.
  • Savage, M., and Williams, K., (eds) (2008), Remembering Elites, Oxford, Blackwells.
  • Scott, J., (1982), The Upper Class, Macmillan.


Exam (50%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (50%, 2000 words) in the ST.

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

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

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2018/19 - 2020/21 combined)

Classification % of students
First 24.2
2:1 71.2
2:2 4.5
Third 0
Fail 0

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: 25

Average class size 2020/21: 15

Capped 2020/21: Yes (30)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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