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The University of Southampton

SOCI2031 Social Theory

Module Overview

This module will look at some of the key terms, issues and debates within social theory. Key terms and concepts will be introduced via selected theories, theoretical issues and the ideas of specific writers who have attempted to explain social phenomena, and in so doing have contributed to the development of languages of inquiry and analysis of social worlds.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify and outline the principal theoretical approaches and key theoretical concepts used in the social theoretical examination of social life.
  • Analyse the contributions made by these approaches to debates concerning the nature of social worlds and the social and cultural phenomena that occur in them.
  • Critically evaluate the contributions made by selected social theories to our understanding of social life
  • Develop understanding of the theoretical frameworks that inform work in the social science disciplines (Sociology and Anthropology, but also Criminology)
  • Write and develop theoretical arguments and positions.
  • Deal more effectively with abstract concepts and theoretical debates.
  • Analyse arguments and make judgements about their theoretical consistency.


Block 1 Introduction and Macro Social Theories (functionalism, Parsons). Block 2: Micro- social analysis and its problems (Social constructionism & Symbolic Interactionism,; Weber, Mead; Becker; Cooley & Goffman) Block 3: Social Theory & Methodology (Schutz, Geertz, Garfinkle) Block 4: Applied Social Theory. We will examine in detail a series of theories to explain current social phenomena and how theoretical arguments inform research within the sub-fields of criminology, anthropology, psychological studies, and sociology. (Topics: Body, Power, Communication, Gender, Speciesism, Consumption/AI).

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures - Seminar work (discussion & feedback group) - Writing surgery

Independent Study130.5
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

May, Y & Powell, J (2008). Situating Social Theory. 

Crow, G (2005). The Art of Sociological Argument. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (500 words) 75%
Quizzes 25%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: SOCI1014


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase reading texts as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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