Module code: SOC2101

Module Overview

A number of key global challenges are introduced in this module, focusing on the valuable contribution social research can make to addressing issues such as climate emergency and sustainable living, food insecurity, precarious work and resilience, energy crisis and health inequalities. We examine the role of research in developing, evaluating and improving policy at local, national and global levels. The process of policy making is studied at its different stages, how researchers can contribute and the types of interventions that are possible and effective. Only by understanding this process can research be designed and communicated in appropriate ways to inform policy and change behaviour, so increasing the value of the research, of the work of the researcher and the impact the research has.


The concept of research impact is explored as part of the module, in terms of making a positive contribution to improve practices, as well as in terms of academic agendas for impactful research and its relationship to funding. In particular, we employ the latest Research Evaluation Framework (REF) Impact Case Studies to explore good examples of impactful research. This also serves to reinforce an understanding of the relationship between good project design and research outcomes, and provides an opportunity to showcase the impactful work of Surrey University staff. Students will have the opportunity to study a series of specific social challenges, with access to academic experts sharing the challenges, recommendations and impacts of the research they have contributed to address these. Not only does this enable research-led teaching, but students will build up an understanding of the specific global challenges and policy areas, as well as what the research, policy making and evaluation career pathways can involve.

Module provider


Module Leader

TIMMS Jill (Sociology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

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 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

This module is structured to deliver two different types of content. This starts with an introductory section to explore key concepts, policy processes and skills. Specific contemporary policy areas will then be focused on, each led by a researcher directly involved in impact work in their specialism. The concluding section will provide an opportunity for comparison and reflection on the contribution these make to addressing key global challenges.


Indicative content includes:



  • Global social challenges and the role of research

  • Influencing the policy making process

  • Making a difference and impactful research


Section 2 - Determined by contemporary challenges and current staff impact work, such as:


  • Hate crime

  • Sustainable supply chains

  • Low carbon living

  • Social media and children

  • Artificial intelligence and care for the vulnerable

  • Modern slavery

  • LGBT equality and housing

  • Women prisoners and food


Section 3

  • Policy evaluation

  • Research dissemination and communication

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Individual recorded presentation 40
Coursework Case study essay 60

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to allow students to demonstrate that they have met the learning outcomes through critical engagement with a wide range of scholarly material.


The summative assessment for this module consists of:


Assessment 1 - Course work in the form of a recorded online individual presentation (addresses LO1, LO2 and LO3). This is designed to draw on and build the digital capabilities of students, using online sources and analysis of previous REF Impact Case Studies.


Assessment 2 – Course work in the form of an individual policy evaluation on a specific policy related to one of the key case studies addressed in the module (addresses LO2, LO3 and LO4). The emphasis here is on evaluating an aspect of the specific policy. Students will need to demonstrate resourcefulness in drawing together a range of existing evidence to support the points made and to make recommendations for improved policy outcomes.


Formative assessment and feedback:


Feedback in class on regular student inputs.


Written feedback on individual assignment for Assessment 1 will shape the preparation of the second and cohort feedback from the overall findings of the assessment will be offered in class and on SurreyLearn to all, to further support preparation for the final assessment.

Module aims

  • To take a global approach to our knowledge and understanding of social challenges and policy mechanisms for addressing these
  • To broaden and deepen students' appreciation of the usefulness of social research
  • To introduce students to ideas about research impact and how to find and assess examples of this
  • To critically examine how policies, developed from research are put into practice and evaluated in terms of their contribution to addressing social challenges

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Apply a global perspective to understanding social challenges and how research can help address these CKT
002 Develop a deepened knowledge of the value of social research for contributing to policy at local, national and global levels CKPT
003 Develop understanding about ways of assessing policy and research impact, and apply to ¿real-world' examples CKPT
004 Be able to write reports using and summarising appropriate evidence KPT

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:


The lectures and seminars are designed to develop the knowledge, skills and capabilities of students through interactive sessions and by drawing not only on student’s own experiences, but also on their interests, potential areas for their dissertation and their career aspirations.


The structure of the learning and teaching strategy will:


Have three parts. Foundation lectures at the start will be run by the module leader, where key concepts and sociological approaches to understanding global social challenges will be clearly set out. The importance of social research for informing policy and the range of ways research can be employed to impact positive change will be evidenced. These will also include workshops for the first assignment and building the digital capabilities students will need.  


A team-teaching approach is then employed so students benefit from engaging in contemporary case studies from our Surrey researchers who are addressing current social challenges. There will be common elements addressed by all six, such as setting out the nature of the challenge, how the project was designed to be policy-relevant, what work was done, and the variety of ways the results were impactful. The exact topics included will depend on current research agendas, priority areas for global challenges and availability of staff. The variety this facilitates will enable students to explore diverse cultural and political contexts.


Finally, a set of concluding lectures with the Module Leader will to allow students to reflect and compare what they have learnt from the case studies, as well as to provide additional skills and digital capabilities on policy evaluation, research dissemination and communication. These sessions will also include workshops for the final assessment.


The module lends itself to exploiting current affairs, urgent social challenges and the latest research contributions. Consideration of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)s, will be built in to help consider international policy approaches to addressing global social challenges. The latest ESRC priority areas will also be explored and the current research work of our university academics, encouraging students to engage with news events and political agendas for change, building positive habits of regularly connecting with news media and understanding the importance of this for employability.

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: SOC2101

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:


Employability – This is a module addresses major social challenges and as such equips students with the skills and motivation to apply a sociological framework to understanding current issues, social needs and contemporary policy agendas. This engagement with wider political, cultural and social context of their degree studies ensures students are more able to apply their knowledge to the changing challenges in the world of employment after graduation, There is also a focus on building up analytical, digital and communication capabilities and transferable skills, particularly in the assignments. Finally, through the module students will gain a good appreciation of what is involved and the benefits of careers in academia, research organisations and policy-related work.   


Digital Capabilities – During this module digital skills will be used and enhances in three main ways. Firstly, students will be required to identify and research a range of evidence sources and databases, including government policies, ESRC priorities, REF impact case studies and topic specific ones. Secondly, students will be investigating how researchers can best communicate and disseminate their research to different audiences, including the use of digital methods. Finally, the first assignment requires students to individually design, perform and upload an online presentation. This is supported by resources from the Digital Learning Team and where possible a live class presentation, to encourage student to explore the range of online platforms available and to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Then the second assignment requires students to apply what they are learnt about policy communication styles to present an evaluation report on a particular policy, aimed at a policy-making audience.


Global and Cultural Capabilities – At the core of this module is the global social challenges the planet is facing and the role of research in understanding and tackling these. A global sociological approach is priorities, as we look at the needs and connections between impactful research and policy-making at the global, national and local levels. The case studies of impactful research that will be led by a team of active researchers, will also consider the global context and relevance of their work, as well as any cultural challenges and capabilities necessary. Examples of the types of global social problems that may be focused on include: climate crisis, modern slavery, sustainable supply chains, different types of global inequalities and low carbon living.


Sustainability – This theme relates to one of the core global social problems that our module is focused on. This will be explored in terms of how sociological approaches to sustainability can offer theoretical incite and how impactful social science research can have an impact on policy and change to address the global problem brought by the climate emergency. This will be used as a basis for the foundation and concluding sessions on research for policy, impact and evaluation, as well as being directly relevant to some of the specialist case studies offered each year by our staff actively researching issues such as low carbon living, energy and heating crisis, climate refugees and sustainable supply chain, in both our department and the Institute for Sustainability.


Resourcefulness and Resilience – Students explore their own experience of and knowledge of key policy areas to date, to relate the issues and theories we consider. The module also provides opportunity for a range of skills to be developed through the resourcefulness needed for each of the individual assessments of online presentation and policy evaluation, The first requires students to themselves draw on skills of analysis and comparison as well as a range of evidence to identify a high quality impact case study and to package this digitally as an online presentation. The second requires students to research and evaluate a particular policy in one of the key areas discussed by our teaching team. This requires students to communicate in the style of an evaluation report to a policy-making audience, facilitating students stretching their writing skills into a more professional realm.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Criminology with Forensic Investigation BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Criminology BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Criminology and Sociology BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Sociology BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Media and Communication BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics and Sociology BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory 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.