Module details for Contemporary Social Theory


This is a social theory module. It is not a history or biography of great thinkers. It encourages students to read closely the arguments of leading schools of social theory and develop their analytical capacities by discussing and further elaborating some of the main developments in social thought over the past half century or so.


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with :evaluative skills by making explicit the evidential and analytical grounds for contemporary social theory.

Learning Outcomes

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

1.  Understand theoretical debates on key sociological concepts.

2.  Evaluate competing theories and different schools of social thought.

3.  Relate theory to specific themes of Civilizing Process, Critical Theory, Power, Cultural Capital and Postmodernism.

Indicative Content

1 Norbert Elias and the Civilizing Process

The Civilizing Process in Context; The State and the De-Civilizing Process.

2 The Frankfurt School and Critical Theory

Traditional and Critical Theory; Walter Benjamin: `Theses on the Philosophy of History'.

3 Relational Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu

`The Real is Relational': Habitus, Doxa, Field and Capital; Bourdieu and the Field of Culture;

4 Foucault

History, Power, Knowledge; Discipline and Punish.

5 Postmodernism

Postmodernism & Postmodernity; Habermas: Rejecting Postmodernism and Reconstructing Modernity.


Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Teaching and Learning Method Hours
Lecture 24
Tutorial/Seminar 12
Practical Activity 0
Assessment 30
Independent 134
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.