Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Understanding the Social World
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 11 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 10 x 2 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,000 word essay  34%
Semester Assessment 1 x 4,000 word essay  66%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,000 word essay  34%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 4,000 word essay  66%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Describe the key concepts and debates which have pre-occupied social scientists.
2. Demonstrate a clear understanding of different theoretical and empirical approaches to the relationship between human agency and social and political structures.
3. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a range of contemporary case studies relating to human agency and identity, social and political structures, and power relations.

Brief description

“Understanding the Social World” provides an introduction to key traditions of thinking and key debates in the social sciences, with a particular focus on cross-cutting themes which have been explored by scholars working in human geography, politics, psychology, sociology and history.


This module aims to provide students with an introduction to some of the key traditions, concepts and debates underpinning social scientific enquiry. This will include an introduction to key concerns which cut across different social science disciplines, introducing students to themes which lie at the heart of human geography, politics, history, psychology, and sociology.



1. Understanding the social world

Human Agents in Structured worlds

2. Politics, Freedom and subjectivity
3. Approaches to Behaviour
4. Embodiment and Emotion
5. Material & hybrid social worlds

Social identities and difference

6. Class, wealth and power
7. Gender and sexuality
8. Nationality, Ethnicity and Race

Contemporary debates

9. Mediated social worlds
10. Global security

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Not explicitly developed in this module.
Communication The module will develop students' written communication skills through the requirement to complete written assessments. In addition, students will develop their oral communication skills through team-working and involvement in class exercises.
Improving own Learning and Performance Student attendance and participation in the lectures will help them to enhance a range of learning skills. The module also requires students to participate in group discussions and extensive self-directed study.
Information Technology Students will be required to undertake research for the module using bibliographic search-engines and library catalogues. They will also utilize standard word-processing packages in the completion of the coursework.
Personal Development and Career planning The module will help students to develop a range of transferable skills including time management, self-discipline, research planning and team-working in class exercises.
Problem solving The module will develop students' problem-solving skills in a number of ways. Students will be required to analyse a range of sources and texts in class exercises and as part of their independent research and coursework assessment.
Research skills Students are expected to research and synthesize a range of academic source material in preparing for classes and for their assessments.
Subject Specific Skills The module will enable students to develop and practice subject-specific skills from the constituent departments teaching on the module, namely human geography, politics, history and psychology.
Team work The classes will include problem-solving exercises and group discussions which will provide opportunities for students to develop team-working skills and discuss their thoughts with the class.


This module is at CQFW Level 4