Module code: SOCM076

Module Overview

In the preface to the third edition of their textbook, Rogers and Pilgrim (2005) emphasize that their book is ‘A sociology of mental health and illness’ and not ‘The sociology of mental health and illness’.  They make this point because any book (or indeed course) on mental health and illness will have to be selective and will not be able to cover everything.  They also highlight how the word ‘sociology’ in the title is a little troublesome as “sociological analyses of our topic are not offered only by sociologists”.


In this module students will encounter a range of sociological perspectives on mental health and illness and will delve into critical debates surrounding definitions, concepts and the ways in which mental health has been ‘organized’ and responded to. Through focusing on topics such as inequalities, and mental health in prisons, students will be equipped to think critically about current, global, mental health care policy and practice. At points in the course, students will have the opportunity to meet professionals working in related fields and connect this to their own employability.

Module provider


Module Leader

MEADOWS Robert (Sociology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

  • Conceptions of mental health/illness (social causation, social constructivism, the myth of mental illness; labelling; bio/social)

  • The sociology of neuroscience and the rise of the neurophysiological self

  • Stigma,

  • Treatment (the rise and fall of the asylum, anti-psychiatry movement, sociology of CBT, medicalisation/Pharmaceuticalisation)

  • Inequalities/Social exclusion

  • Recovery

  • Mental illness in prisons

  • Global issues

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Video Analysis 40
Coursework Debate Transcript 60

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate that they have met the learning outcomes associated with this module.


The assessment strategy is also designed to take into account that mental health can be an emotive thing for many of us and asking students to ‘reflect’ on issues can be overly personal. Assessments therefore ask students to ‘reflect’ and apply their understanding to others’ stories.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • A video analysis (addressing learning outcomes 2, 3 and 4)

  • A debate transcript (addresses learning outcomes 1, 2, 3 and 4)


Video analysis

Students are asked to watch The Substitute by Andrea Jublin and use it as a lens for exploring the complexities of mental health/illness. Students will be provided with a series of prompt questions to help guide this reflection: (i) which of the sociological perspectives encountered in week 2 best fit the writer’s intentions and why? (ii) identify one core concept from the course within the film. Define this and explain your reason; (iii) how might you explain your own reaction to the film using concepts and ideas encountered in the course?


Debate Transcript

Students are asked to engage with whether or not mentally disordered offenders should be treated differently.  They will write this up as a transcript of a debate between two opposing experts. It is possible to engage with a different topic in consultation with the module leader.


Formative assessment and feedback

Both assessments are ‘workshopped’ during timetabled sessions and students will receive feedback on initial ideas and discussions. In addition, activities embedded throughout the module are explicitly linked to the summative assessments and provide moments of formative feedback.

Module aims

  • Enable students to explore core concepts and ideas found within the sociology of mental health, including stigma, mortification of self, medicalisation, recovery and inequalities
  • Prepare students to critically engage with current policy and practice surrounding mental health and illness
  • Develop students ability to consider and communicate multiple sides of a complex issue

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Students will develop an understanding of patterns and prevalence of mental illness and shifting policy and practice KCPT
002 Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of key sociological ideas and an ability to apply these to real world scenarios KCPT
003 Students will be able to consider complex evidence and summarize this in succinct arguments KPT
004 Students will be enhance their employability and resourcefulness by presenting evidence and arguments in multiple different ways across the module PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to equip students with the knowledge and analytical/practical skills to be able to evaluate contemporary understandings of, and responses to, mental health/illness. Students are encouraged to see the module content as a ‘toolbox’ of ideas which can be applied to a range of situations – now and in their future.


Weekly lectures and seminars are designed to enable students to explore core concepts and ideas found within the sociology of mental health. Activities are designed to consolidate learning and equip students to apply this ‘tool box’. These activities are frequently based around ‘real-life’ materials – such as video interviews from healthtalkonline – and include class debates, poll everywhere and group ‘games’.  Invited guests further enable students to consider real world implications.

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: SOCM076

Other information

The Department of Sociology is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in all these areas, as highlighted throughout this module descriptor. A summary of how this is achieved for each of the five key pillars is provided below:


  • Digital capabilities: Students will encounter a range of platforms across the module – including SurreyLearn and poll everywhere.
  • Employability: Students will be supported to enhance their employability throughout the module. They will gain knowledge of contemporary policy and practice and will be introduced to professionals working in the field. The assessments will also help them develop skills in synthesising evidence to critically consider how best we can respond to a ‘crisis’ in mental health.
  • Global and cultural capabilities: Students will develop their global and cultural capabilities by engaging with issues of global mental health, human rights and cultural relativity.
  • Resourcefulness and resilience: Students will be required to offer both sides of policy debates; even if they do not personally agree with one. They will be encouraged to work together in seminars and present evidence and arguments in multiple ways and formats. Students will also be asked to consider their own reactions to portrayals and consider their own positionality.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Sex, Gender and Sexualities MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% 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 2024/5 academic year.