Social Scientific Analysis of Inequalities

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Sam Friedman STC S216


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Inequalities and Social Science. This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

The course will consider interdisciplinary approaches to inequality, focusing on (a) how inequality can be conceptualised and explained, (b) how it can be measured and (c) ethical and political issues. Topics to be covered include patterns and trends in economic inequalities; gender, ethnicity, class and age; cultural aspects of inequality; social and intergenerational mobility; global and comparative perspectives; geographical and neighbourhood polarisation; health and educational inequalities; media representation of inequalities; ethical and philosophical approaches; the impact of government, law and social policy.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, online materials and seminars totalling a minimum of 40 hours across MT and LT, with a class in ST.

It is divided into blocks of related lectures and linked seminars. The ST class is a revision class.

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

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT and 1 mock exam in the LT.

Indicative reading

Branko Milanovic, Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization (Harvard University Press, 2016)

Piketty, T.  Capital in the 21st Century (Harvard University Press, 2013)

Hartley Dean and Lucinda Platt, Social Advantage and Disadvantage (Oxford, 2016)

Graeber, D. Debt: The First 5000 Years. New York. Melville Publishing

O'Neil, C. 2016 Weapons of Math Destruction. London: Allen Lane

Hickel, J. (2017) The Divide: A Brief Guild to Global Inequality and its Solutions. William Heinemann. London.

Federici, S. (2004) Caliban and the Witch: Women: The Body and Primitive Accumulation. New York. Autonomedia.


Essay (30%, 3000 words) and presentation (20%) in the LT.
Take-home assessment (50%) in the ST.

The presentation will be from a group exercise in the LT.

An electronic copy of the assessed essay, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the submission day. The essay is due by the first day of LT

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

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 39.8
Merit 57.3
Pass 2.9
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: 26

Average class size 2020/21: 13

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills