Economy, Risk and Society

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Rebecca Elliott (STC S211) and Dr David Pinzur (STC S217A)


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Economy and Society. This course is available on the MSc in Environmental Policy and Regulation, MSc in Regulation and MSc in Risk and Finance. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). Students who have this course as a core course are guaranteed a place. Other than for students for whom the course is a core course, places are allocated based on a written statement, with priority given to students on the MSc in Environmental Policy and Regulation, MSc in Regulation and MSc in Risk and Finance. This may mean that not all students who apply will be able to get a place on this course.

Course content

This course introduces students to sociological perspectives on economic and societal risks. Topics include the social theory of risk and uncertainty, disaster, financialization, technology and material infrastructures, expertise and knowledge production, and transnational and systemic environmental, health, and economic risks. The course will draw upon a broad international literature in economic sociology and the sociology of risk, as well as case studies from the environmental, financial and public health domains.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, online materials and seminars 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.

Indicative reading

  • Aspers, P & Dodd, N (eds) (2015) Re-Imagining Economic Sociology (Oxford University Press);
  • Beck, U. (1999) World Risk Society (Cambridge: Polity);
  • Baker, T & Simon, J (eds) (2002) Embracing Risk: The Changing Culture of Insurance and Responsibility (University of Chicago Press);
  • Bernstein, P L (1996) Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk (Princeton University Press);
  • Hutter, B.M. (ed) (2010) Anticipating Risks and Organizing Risk Regulation, Cambridge University Press;
  • Smesler, N. & Swedberg, R. (eds) (2005) The Handbook of Economic Sociology;
  • Bulkeley, H (2014) Transnational Climate Governance (Cambridge University Press);
  • Klinenberg, E (2002) Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago (University of Chicago Press);
  • Ericson, RV, Doyle, A & Barry, D (2003) Insurance as Governance (University of Toronto Press);
  • Hacker, J & O’Leary, A (eds) (2012) Shared Responsibility, Shared Risk: Government, Markets and Social Policy in the Twenty-First Century (Oxford University Press);
  • Krippner, G (2011) Capitalizing on Crisis: The Political Origins of the Rise of Finance (Harvard University Press);
  • Pardo-Guerra, J.P. (2019) Automating Finance: Infrastructures, Engineers, and the Making of Electronic Markets (Oxford University Press);
  • Beckert, J. (2016) Imagined Futures: Fictional Expectations and Capitalist Dynamics (Harvard University Press);
  • MacKenzie, D. (2006) An Engine, Not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape Markets (MIT Press). 


Essay (30%, 3000 words) in the LT.
Essay (70%, 4000 words) in the ST.

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

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


Attendance at all seminars 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

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 12.2
Merit 63.5
Pass 21.6
Fail 2.7

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: 30

Average class size 2020/21: 15

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills