Module details for Classical Social Theory


This module is intended to introduce the work of three key social theorists of the 19th and early 20th centuries, Karl Marx, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim. Their work is used to critically illustrate the nature of capitalist modernity and the foundations of contemporary sociological theory and practice.


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with :working knowledge of the principle ideas of the key contributors to the foundations of sociological thought.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Demonstrate an understanding of the philosophical influences upon the key contributors to the foundation of sociological thought.

2.  Illustrate an understanding of how each thinker interpreted the impact of modern capitalist society upon the 'human condition'.

3.  Articulate an understanding of how each thinker used different methodologies to analyse and explain the nature of social cohesion and social conflict.

4.  Display an ability to effectively communicate the similarities and differences between the key classical sociological thinkers.

5.  Critically assess the significance of the classical thinkers' social theory in the analysis of contemporary society.

Indicative Content


Capitalism, Workers` Movement and The Communist Manifesto (1848); Dialectics, Fetishism and the Purpose of Critique; Value, Labour, Money; Capital, Surplus Value and Exploitation; Primitive Accumulation, the Logic of Separation and the Question of Crisis; Class Struggle, Revolution and Communism.


Introduction: contextual overview and biography; The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism; Conception of sociology and methodology; Bureaucratisation and rationalisation; Class, status and party; Political sociology: power, legitimacy and the state.


Introduction: contextual overview and biography; The Rules of Sociological Method; Suicide; The Division of Labour in Society; Morality and Religion; Crime, Deviance and the Law.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Teaching and Learning Method Hours
Lecture 22
Tutorial/Seminar 12
Practical Activity 0
Assessment 30
Independent 136
Total 200

Guidance notes

SCQF Level - The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework provides an indication of the complexity of award qualifications and associated learning and operates on an ascending numeric scale from Levels 1-12 with SCQF Level 10 equating to a Scottish undergraduate Honours degree.

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2021/22 , and may be subject to change for future years.