Module code: SOC2071

Module Overview

This second-year module builds upon the knowledge of sociological theory and classical sociological thinkers that students have developed in their first year of studies. However, the focus shifts to forms of sociological thinking with an ostensibly critical intent. It examines critical sociological perspectives within their socio-historical context, a global context, and in relation to such broad issues as the nature of social organisation, the workings of power and capitalism, modes of everyday behaviour, inequalities, culture, social change and environmental degradation. It also considers the contemporary value and applicability of each critical sociological perspective and of the critical sociological enterprise more generally. Some themes and issues recur and are developed throughout the module:

  • the conceptualisation of power in social theory

  • the relationship between culture, economy and nature in conceptualisations of power

  • the types of sociologically significant hierarchies

  • the critical understanding of the influence of sociological factors on the construction of knowledge

  • the relation between different critical approaches


Module provider


Module Leader

HALL Matthew (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: 22

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • The critical traditions of Marxism and Western Marxism

  • The critical traditions of feminism

  • The critical race perspectives

  • Environmentalist critiques


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Critical Commentary 40
Coursework Critical Review of an Article 60

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of the differences and similarities between different forms of critical sociological thinking and a capacity to apply them to the current social world and/or their own experiences as social actors.


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:


Assessment 1: Critical Commentary (coursework), 40% (addresses LO1, LO2, LO3, and LO4) – an exercise in applied critical theory. This assessment is designed to give students the opportunity to apply critical concepts and ideas from Marxism and Western Marxism traditions to a current social phenomenon of their choice.


Assessment 2: Critical Review of an Article (Coursework), 60% (addresses LO1, LO2 and LO4) – an exercise in critical engagement with critical perspectives. This assessment involves writing a review of an article from a pre-selected list. These cover articles from the critical feminist tradition, critical race perspectives and critical ecological perspectives.


Formative assessment and Feedback


Students will take part in group activities and discussions during each workshop and receive formative feedback. Written feedback is provided for both summative assessments and group-level formative feedback for each of the assessments will also be available on SurreyLearn.

Module aims

  • Cover some key paradigms within sociological theory
  • Consider the relevance today of these paradigms
  • Compare and evaluate critical and descriptive forms of sociological thinking 

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Develop an understanding of critical theoretical traditions within sociology, and points of contention between them K
002 Appreciate the contemporary relevance of 19th and 20th century sociological theory KC
003 Be able to apply critical sociological concepts and theories to question widely held cultural assumptions and critically assess aspects of social organisation and everyday life CT
004 Develop skills in applying critical concepts and critical writing 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 introduce students to different forms of sociological thinking and encourage them to assess their respective applicability to the world around them. This is scaffolded over the 11 weeks of the module, beginning with the critical traditions of 19th century Marxism and moving on through the module to explore how it has inspired the critical perspectives of the 20th century to today.


Workshops consist of a lecture and student-centered seminar. Each lecture will expose students to key critical theorists, concepts and ideas. The seminars are designed to support students in developing their own original applications of these concepts to the world around them, as well as critically assessing their application.


Most weeks also require preparation from students ahead of each workshop. Students are required each week to complete an essential reading and come prepared to the workshop with their own example of a contemporary application of a critical concept from that week. This is also in direct preparation for the first assessment.

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: SOC2071

Other information

The School 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 the following areas:

Employability – Throughout the module students will focus on nurturing a skill crucial to their professional development – their critical thinking capabilities. This will be supported through the week-by-week teaching and learning content, focused on providing students with a deep and contextual understanding of critical sociological thought. Students will learn to apply sociological concepts directly to contemporary issues and organisations, as well as learn to evaluate those applications.

During the weekly workshops, as well as for Assignment 1, students are required to reflect on their own lives, work, studies and leisure time, and situate these within wider structural accounts of everyday life, capitalism, and concepts surrounding power and domination. As such, students will also become accustomed to thinking about creative solutions to social problems that are attuned to wider issues of power and social inequalities. This module is particularly valuable for any students considering graduate careers in the areas of social policy, applied research and/or social justice.


Global and Cultural Capabilities – Across the module, students will be exposed to theories necessary for understanding contemporary social inequalities and issues of power and domination. The module is designed so that students will gain an understanding of the socio-historical context of social divisions and our ways of thinking about them, such class, gender and ethnicity, thus developing their intercultural competencies. Indicative teaching and learning content from the module include critical engagement with the history and processes of colonialism, as well as post-colonial approaches for understanding contemporary racial injustices. As such, students will also come away from the module more sensitive to recognising ‘racialised regimes of representation’ within everyday life.


Sustainability – Students will come away from the module with able to think about, and engage with, vastly different approaches to developing a sustainable future and the idea of a ‘green society’. Critical sociological thinking about environmental problems is an explicit topic covered within the module’s learning and teaching content. Students will become equipped with knowledge to think critically about policy responses to environmental problems, the domination of nature under capitalism, as well as understand the inextricable links between domination of the environment and means of social domination based on race, class and gender.


Resourcefulness and Resilience – Throughout the module, students will grow confidence in applying theory to their own lives and formally evaluating the social context of those ideas and their application. They will also build their confidence and engagement through regular participation in workshop discussion and activities.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Sociology BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory 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

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 2025/6 academic year.