Module code: SOCM077

Module Overview

This module focuses on family life and family diversity. A range of empirical data and theoretical perspectives on the family and its relationship to society will be drawn upon to explore topics such as marriage and partnerships, housework, parenting, and the intersection of families with the state and other social institutions. We will pay particular attention to the relationship between production and reproduction, specifically, examining the household division of labour and how this has varied over time and in relation to external pressures, especially the demands of paid work. The module will consider how family life is mediated by gender, class, ethnicity, and sexuality, and use contemporary, historical and cross-cultural material to highlight processes of change and development in contemporary family life.


This optional module builds upon existing knowledge and understanding in relation to gender by providing a detailed and nuanced discussion of key issue related to families.

Module provider


Module Leader

HALL Matthew (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 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative key content themes include:


  • Conceptualising ‘the family’

  • Historical trends in partnership, family life and household composition

  • The domestic division of labour

  • Family diversity and changing family patterns


Indicative weekly themes which may be amended for each year of study, include:



Indicative content will include:

  • What is a family?

  • Historical perspectives on the family

  • Housework and domestic labour

  • Marriage, partnerships and living alone

  • Parenting and caring

  • Grandparenting

  • The family and the state

  • Family violence

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Media Article 50
Coursework Essay 50

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate that they:



  • Are able to critically evaluate a wide range of theoretical perspectives which seek to explain the social organisation of the family and roles within the family

  • Have a thorough understanding of contemporary experiences of family life

  • Are able to identify and analyse a range of empirical approaches to the family, the division of labour and household reproduction and to critically appraise these approaches

  • Are aware of key debates and emergent trends in the sociology of family life

  • Are able to critically evaluate media representations of families and family life



  Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:


  • Coursework media article (2000 words) 50% (addressing learning outcomes 4 and 5)

  • Coursework essay (2000 words) 50% (addressing learning outcomes 1, 2 and 3)



Formative assessment

Informal formative assessment is conducted throughout the module during seminars where students have the opportunity to engage in a variety of activities and to receive both peer and tutor feedback, with the aim of allowing students to assess their progress week by week. Formative feedback will be provided on assignment plans during the seminars where students will be encouraged to bring a one-page plan for discussion.



Formative feedback will be provided throughout the module within in-class discussions and seminars. Students will be supported in the in-class activities to recognise strengths and areas for improvement.


Summative feedback will be provided on all written work submitted, highlighting both areas of strength within the writing and areas that could be developed or strengthened further.

Feedback and feedforward on summative assignments will be provided via SurreyLearn. This will indicate what students did well, less well, and what they need to do to improve in the future and will relate both to issues specific to the module and to transferable written skills.

Module aims

  • To provide an overview of the role and composition of the contemporary family and of historical variation in the composition and role of the family
  • To familiarize students with a range of theoretical perspectives on family life and the familial division of labour
  • To highlight the intersection of families and other social institutions
  • To consider the implications of social change and family life from the perspective of different social actors

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Be able to critically evaluate a wide range of theoretical perspectives which seek to explain the social organisation of the family and roles within the family KC 1
002 Have a thorough understanding of contemporary experiences of family life KC 2
003 Be able to identify and analyse a range of empirical approaches to the family, the division of labour and household reproduction and to critically appraise these approaches KPT 3
004 Be aware of key debates and emergent trends in the sociology of family life K 4
005 Be able to critically evaluate media representations of families and family life KCPT 5

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: 


  • Allow students to acquire knowledge and develop their critical thinking about family life, family patterns and family research; 

  • Encourage students to be active participants in their own learning; 

  • Maximise learning by engaging students with different learning backgrounds (including through their engagement with each other) and maximising their learning by drawing on their own experiences and contributions to group discussions. 


The methods of teaching and learning is designed to provide students with understanding of key topics in family studies. The lectures will expose students to key thinkers, theories and debates and these will be supported by required reading each week. The seminars provide the opportunity to discuss these ideas in more depth and work in groups on particular tasks. Seminar activities will encourage students to think critically jointly and independently, and will help them in the writing of their essay and media article exposition. Weekly readings and seminar preparation helps to underpin students’ knowledge and understanding.

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: SOCM077

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 the following areas:


Employability: The substantive content of the module has close links to employment. It is important that practitioners in a number of fields understand the complexities of contemporary family life. This includes people within teaching, social work, youth work, probation, the civil service and more. Furthermore, people within the fields of media and marketing also need to understand contemporary families so that they are not presenting a limited and stereotypical view. Researchers too need to ensure they design their studies in ways that are inclusive of different family forms. These links are explained both on the Virtual Learning environment for the module and in seminar discussions.


This module will also help students develop a number of transferable skills valued by employers. By participating in class discussions and personal writing tasks during the seminars, students will consolidate their ability to reflect on one’s own learning and experiences. The reflexivity imbued on this module will be important for working in contemporary working environments. The module fosters the development of critical thinking skills, through class learning activities and both assignments. Students will strengthen their ability to analyse data and to weigh-up written arguments against evidence from research.



Digital Capabilities: Students will continue developing their digital capabilities through the use of SurreyLearn, where they will navigate and utilise the VLE for multiple aspects of the module online provision. Students engage with digital technologies such as Poll Everywhere in sharing ideas in class. Lectures and seminars incorporate different methods of content communication, include the use of video and embedded podcasts.  Students will also make extensive use of the library catalogue to identify and utilize relevant texts for their assignments.



Global and Cultural Capabilities: Recognising and understanding the significance and impact of diversity, inequality and the lived experience within institutions, communities, and societies is of central importance for this module. The central issues of social justice and inclusivity permeate the learning, with the purpose of developing students’ global and cultural awareness and competence. For example, drawing upon empirical research, students will consider how the Covid-19 pandemic affected family life in different country and cultural contexts. The module leader will create a safe space for open and reflexive discussion across difference. Through the guided seminar activities, students will be actively encouraged to share experiences and knowledge from their own backgrounds and cultures, respect and value different experiences and perspectives, and come to appreciate the value of recognising and appreciating diverse perspectives.



Sustainability: Social and political inequalities are embedded within the concept of sustainability, and these issues are vital in understanding social structures and processes connected with family life. Through the learning, teaching and assessment activities on this module, students will have the opportunity to critically reflect on issues aligned with aspects of Goal 5 of the Sustainable Goals of the United Nations – ‘Gender Equality’ which focuses on empowerment for women and girls.



Resourcefulness and Resilience: Drawing on their reading, personal experiences and seminar discussions, students will be encouraged to think critically and originally about the nature of family life. As part of the seminar activities they will be encouraged to understand and appreciate the experiences of those from different family backgrounds to themselves In doing so, students will have the opportunity to broaden their own worldview, perspectives, and to challenge stereotypes, by actively engaging with a broader spectrum of ideas, experiences, and representations held by others. Students also engage in written dialogue with competing ideas through the exposition of a media article (assessment 1) and an essay (assessment 2).

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.