We often get asked by prospective students about what’s in our BA Sociology modules at Westminster. We’re very proud of our degree: we have a diverse range of options in contemporary sociology, with lots of teaching that derives from our own original research. Here’s a taste of the modules we currently offer, from the first year to the third year. If you have any questions about what we have to offer, please feel free to get in touch with Ben Pitcher (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Naomi Rudoe (email@example.com), the Sociology Course Leaders.
Please note that not all option modules run every single year
Level 4 (first year)
4SOCL001W Thinking Sociologically
This module is an introduction to how classical sociological theory has explained social structures and divisions in society. The work of Marx, Durkheim and Weber is introduced to explain the transition from traditional to modern society. Drawing on key features of contemporary society the module also questions and critiques the classical theorists’ applicability to 21st century global society.
4SOCL002W Identity and Society
This module provides a critical vocabulary for exploring and understanding the relationship between the self and society. It introduces classic and contemporary accounts of identity and critically explores sociological accounts of identity and its formation.
4SOCL003W London Explored
The module uses London as a context to explore sociological theory and to assess and conduct quantitative research in relation to the city. Students are introduced to the themes of the nightmare/utopic/cosmopolitan/global city and use these to write an individual literature review in preparation for designing and conducting a group research project on an aspect of contemporary London life.
4SOCL004W Understanding Race (option module)
This module provides an introduction to key contemporary debates in the sociology of race. Each week is organised around a key concept, challenging ‘commonsense’ ideas about racial difference, ethnicity and culture. Exploring the fascinating role of race in the organisation of social and cultural life, this module assumes no prior knowledge of the topic, and provides an excellent foundation for the further study of race at levels 5 and 6. This module includes a walking tour of ‘black London’ led by a professional tour guide.
4SOCL005W Researching Society
Researching Society is an introduction to doing sociology. Taking research on London as a focus, students learn how to formulate sociological questions and how to identify what kinds of research methods are appropriate for answering them. The module also introduces the academic skills essential to degree level learning, such as sourcing and retrieving information, referencing and academic writing, and assists in supporting students’ transition to HE.
4SOCL006W Introducing Media and Cultural Studies
This module provides an introduction to the study of media and culture, and demonstrates how important they are to an understanding of contemporary society. The module introduces key concepts and applies these to the analysis of a variety of cultural texts, from films and TV to magazines and social media. We apply the insights that can be derived from a range of different critical approaches, and place an emphasis on developing the practice of critical interpretation.
4SOCL007W Introducing Gender (option module)
Gender really needs no introducing – from the moment we are born we are caught up in this most pervasive scheme for ordering the world. Introducing Gender aims to outline the ways in which gender has been understood, and challenged, in sociological and feminist thought. Central to this is the hierarchical division of men and women, and the sites and sources of this gendered power in society.
4SOCL008W London Lives (option module)
This module will explore immigrant lives and their contexts in London. Starting with a historical overview and an introduction to theories of integration, assimilation and settlement, the module will examine current and past processes of inclusion and exclusion in different spheres of society, including politics, the (regular and irregular) labour market, the education system and the criminal justice system. It will also look at linguistic, literary and artistic cultural production.
Level 5 (second year)
5SOCL001W Modern Social Theory (core module)
This module explores the development of social theorising in the 20th Century. It considers the continuities and discontinuities in social theorising in the context of rapid social change and it is concerned with the exploring how the core concepts of classical theory have been adapted, reworked or discarded in response to changing times. Theorists including Lukacs, Parsons, Goffman, the Frankfurt School and the symbolic interactionists will be studied.
5SOCL002W Education Now (option module)
This module makes sense of current controversies in education by evaluating the role of education and government prescriptions for its future, through analysis of policy and practice. Students will write a report on an educational issue such as sex education, social exclusion, faith schools or bullying.
5SOCL003W Work Experience (option module)
This module is practice based, requiring students to: a) negotiate a work placement; b) undertake the work planned to a professional level; c) to identify and further develop their graduate attributes and d) reflect critically upon the nature of work and the structures that underpin the wider experiences of the placement.
5SOCL004W The Sociology of Religion (option module)
Early sociologists’ view about the erosion of religion in modern societies have been challenged by those who argue that the twenty-first century is experiencing a process of ‘desecularization’ or religious revivalism. This module introduces students to the theories and methods offered by classical and contemporary sociologists to help equip them critically to examine the definitions, social origins, and historical and contemporary significance of religion at the individual, institutional and societal level.
5SOCL005W Sexualities (option module)
This module explores sexuality as a central component of contemporary life and asks how it is deployed in constructions of identity, politics, morality, oppression, liberation, and civilization itself. Sociological, feminist and queer approaches to sexuality, including critiques of essentialism and heteronormativity, are discussed along with topics including danger, the nation, marriage and pornography.
5SOCL006W Emotional Life (option module)
Emotions are not just a private matter. This module explores the centrality of emotions to interpersonal and social life such as love and anger. It examines theories which challenge our assumptions that emotions are solely psychological cognitive states. It will offer alternative models which make the case that emotions emerge out of the social relations in which they are experienced.
5SOCL007W Sociological Research Methods (core module)
This module focuses on research practice and provides core knowledge and skills in primary research methods. Students will design, conduct and analyse an in-depth interview on a topic of their choice and design, and conduct secondary data analysis of a large-scale survey from the UK Data Service. Students will be introduced to data analysis software and the SPSS statistical package to assist with data analysis. The knowledge and skills will be invaluable preparation for the dissertation.
5SOCL008W Youth Culture and Identity (core module)
This module provides a unique insight into youth cultures locally and internationally. It uses classic research on youth culture and subcultures and examines more recent studies on youth leisure, identity, employment and unemployment. The module has a strong policy focus and will be of particular interest to those planning a future in youth work.
5SOCL009W Globalisation and the Media (option module)
The strong link between globalisation and the media has brought about some of the most fundamental social, political and economic changes across the globe. This module assesses how globalisation facilitates the instant exchange of information and the news and asks questions about the expanded reach of multinational corporations through greater information connectivity, global advertising strategies, and integration of economic activity across borders.
5WSEL009W LGBTQ Studies (option module)
LGBTQ Studies offers an introduction to studying LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) lives from a range of academic disciplines and perspectives. The topic offers a rich entry point into explorations of identity, history, politics, and art/literature as well as addressing questions around equality and diversity at local and global levels, in the family, the workplace, in the media and online and in international society.
Level 6 (third year)
6SOCL001W Sociology Dissertation (core module)
In essence, the dissertation is about doing sociology. Students select a topic for in-depth research, which normally relates to their experience or something of interest in a module. Students showcase their sociological knowledge and skills in setting their own question, operationalising key concepts in a coherent research framework, conducting, analysing and critically evaluating their research.
6SOCL002W Contemporary Social Theory (core module)
This module is an exploration in contemporary social theory. It introduces poststructuralist perspectives, and engages with an eclectic range of sociological theories and debates that provide new and exciting ways of thinking about life in the twenty-first century. Students are shown how theories can be used to explore, explain and understand contemporary social issues, problems or concerns.
6SOCL003W Families, Intimacies and Personal Life (option module)
The module examines families and intimate life, drawing on the latest research in family studies in the UK and North America. It explores the concepts of family practices (the ‘doing’ of family), intimacy (the emotional quality of families and personal relationships) and issues in family policy and intervention. It examines the diversity of family, parenting and personal relationship practices, as well as anthropological and queer approaches to families and intimacy.
6SOCL004W Life and Death: The Medicalisation of the Body (option module)
This module will challenge your thinking about the body. It unpacks Shilling’s concept of the ‘unfinished body’ by engaging with a variety of bodily phenomena, such as the cultures of death and dying, healthy lifestyles, embodied identity and the medicalization of the body. These analyses are further underpinned by examining the body’s relationship to power through detailed case study examples.
6SOCL005W Politics, Protest and the Public Sphere (option module)
This module introduces key theoretical debates in political sociology around activism, protests and social movements. Particular attention is given to the impact of globalization and new media technologies on protest movements; and to how such movements operate in the public sphere. The module also explores a range of historical and contemporary examples of protest events and social movements.
6SOCL006W Perils and Pleasures: A London Sociology of Leisure (option module)
London has a long and rich history as a site for transgression, entertainment and leisure. This module, using London as a point of departure, critically examines sociological theories of leisure, emotion, embodiment and pleasure. Drawing on scholarship from urban sociology, leisure studies and cultural studies, we will critically examine and evaluate practices from clubbing to shopping.
6SOCL007W Making the News (option module)
This module examines the processes of the production and dissemination of news in contemporary societies. The main focus is on assessing the consequences of the concentration of media ownership and whether new media offers a viable alternative to monopolised media production. Based on case studies, the module analyses how news is produced, both linguistically and institutionally, the politics of citizenship and the need for a rigorous public realm.
6SOCL008W Crossing Borders and Boundaries: Migration and Identity (option module)
This module examines how immigration and emigration impacts on the structure and culture of local environments. Cultural fields such as literature, music, art and cuisine are explored to discuss the cultural networks and exchanges resulting from migration. Concepts of self, ‘other’, nation and community are used to study how contemporary immigrant identities are shaped by new mobilities, mixed cultures and new ways of communication.
6SOCL009W Consuming Race (option module)
This module explores how the meanings of race are made and remade in acts of creative consumption. By consuming race we make sense of other groups and cultures, communicate our own identities, express needs and desires, and discover new ways of thinking and being. Ranging across the terrain of popular culture, and finding race in some unusual and unexpected places, this module offers fresh and innovative ways of thinking about the centrality of race to our lives.
6SOCL010W Contemporary Gender Studies: Feminist Theory and Beyond (option module)
Taking gender to be intersectional and discursively constructed, this module examines how contemporary gender studies go ‘beyond’ existing feminist theory and explores how gender is experienced, known and understood today. It engages with current debates in gender studies around performativity, neoliberalism, transgender, disability and embodiment and feminist/queer subversion and resignification.
6SOCL011W Gender, Education and Identity (option module)
Education shapes pupil identities through the structure, policies, curriculum, culture and psycho-social dynamics of schooling. Using gender as the lens, and an intersectional analysis to evaluate other differences e.g., class, ethnicity, religion, sexuality and disability, this module examines identity work at school. Students will employ autobiographical methods to evaluate how they negotiated their educational identities at school.
6SOCL012W Food, Taste and Consumption (option module)
This module focuses on the study of food, taste and consumption. Based primarily in sociological thinking, it will explore how the experience of taste is not limited to our own sensual likes and dislikes, but deeply embedded in class, history, patterns of migration/ tourism and culture. It will also focus on the ‘experience economy’ of the dining and eating scene in London – from fine dining to fusion ‘global’ cuisine and the rise of farmers markets and food festivals.