Module code: SOC2045

Module Overview

This module focuses on the sociological study of health and illness. We begin by considering different theoretical approaches relevant to understanding patient experiences of illness including Talcott Parsons’ concept of the sick role, the social construction of illness, interactions between patients and health professionals and the effects of illness on aspects of personal identity. We then extend our focus to explore social inequalities in health, surveillance medicine and notions of risk, and the extent to which patients can or want to be ‘consumers’ of healthcare. The module concludes with a consideration of the ways in which the themes and debates covered earlier in the module apply to specific areas of healthcare.

Module provider


Module Leader

MEADOWS Robert (Sociology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 24

Independent Learning Hours: 104

Lecture Hours: 11

Tutorial Hours: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Talcott Parsons and the Functionalist legacy

  • The doctor-patient relationship

  • Help-seeking behaviou

  • Social reactions to illness

  • Chronic illness

  • Inequalities in health

  • Surveillance medicine and the construction of risk

  • Health and healthcare in a consumer age

  • Pregnancy and reproduction

  • Alternative & complementary therapies

  • Death, dying and quality of life

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework 2000 WORD ESSAY 50
Examination 1-HOUR EXAMINATION 50

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate cognitive and analytical skills and subject knowledge as set out in the learning outcomes.  Assessment one (an essay) focuses directly on learning outcome 5 and encourages wide-ranging critical reading and careful written discussion. It also assesses the extent to which, in response to a specific topic, the student is able to engage with key terms and concepts (LO 1) and reflect on dimensions of interactions between patients and healthcare professionals (LO 2). Good answers will make connections between the different topics covered in the module (LO 4) and, where appropriate, use examples from current debates in health and healthcare (LO 3) as well as reflecting on debates within academic scholarship. Assessment two (exam) is also focused directly on LO 5 but in a different format and provides students with the opportunity at the very end of the module to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the different facets of and ways of engaging with this subject area as set out in LOs 1-4.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • 2000 word essay (50%) requiring students to select an essay question from a list provided that covers the key issues and topics covered in the first six weeks of the module

  • 1 hour exam (50%), requiring students to answer one question from a list that covers the key issues and topics discussed in weeks 7-11 of the module.

Formative assessment and feedback

Students are offered an opportunity to obtain formative feedback in weeks 5-7 on either a draft essay plan or a section of text (maximum of 500 words) discussing a key theoretical idea or debate. Feedback is usually given orally in a one-to-one meeting with the module co-ordinator but may alternatively be provided in the body of an email. Detailed feedback on the assessed essay includes a formative element.  

Module aims

  • Provide an overview of the sociological study of health and illness in contemporary society
  • Explore different theoretical approaches to the study of health and illness at the macro and micro level
  • Discuss in depth a number of key topics relating to the sociology of health and illness drawing on both theoretical and empirical studies  

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Demonstrate familiarity with key terms and concepts that have been used in the sociological study of health and illness and an appreciation of how these have developed over time KC
2 Describe how and why the perspectives of patients and healthcare professionals may differ KC
3 Discuss current debates in health and healthcare in terms of broader sociological themes KCT
4 Make connections between the different topics covered in the module KCT
5 Construct arguments in class discussions, essays and exam answers that bring together theoretical ideas, empirical research and an understanding of dimensions of change KCT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

Learning and teaching strategy

Lecture components provide a core background, covering key theoretical ideas, examples from empirical research and critical examination of drivers of change in respect of the topic under discussion. Some themes are covered within a single lecture, other themes stretch across the whole of the module. Connections between different topics are identified at the beginning of each teaching session (LO 4). Seminar discussions enable students to develop greater depth of understanding through practical exercises and discussions. Lecture and seminar are sometimes discrete with a discussion exercise in the seminar following on from the content of the lecture. In other weeks, the lecture and exercises to promote discussion are more integrated.

Learning and teaching methods:

The learning and teaching methods consist of 22 combined lecture/seminar sessions (11 x 2 hours) plus a revision session (2 hours). Students complete guided readings each week as preparation for the lecture and seminar discussions. Contemporary examples, such as media coverage of deficiencies in healthcare, are incorporated into discussions as these arise during the course of the module (LO 3). 

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: SOC2045

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Media and Communication BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Sociology BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Criminology and Sociology BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics and Sociology BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature with Sociology BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.