Social Responsibility in the curriculum

Our curriculum

Students from all courses engage with their discipline through the lens of social responsibility, putting real-life research into practice and getting a taste for truly informed debate.


Each of these courses and initiatives has recently received one of our social responsibility in the curriculum grants.

Global Social Challenges

A first-year course for social science students with social responsibility at its heart

Through this course, students gain knowledge about a number of key challenges – including climate change, terrorism and global inequality – that affect everyone. They also learn how a sociological perspective can illuminate the causes, impacts and possible solutions to these urgent issues.

Mainstream media commentaries often lack an appreciation of the social context in understanding these problems and evaluating solutions. Our students will be encouraged to use the knowledge they gain to inform public debate.

Students can be ‘public sociologists’ and, in this course, will be exposed to the idea that influencing public understanding is one of the key responsibilities of academia.

All students will write two blog posts as a part of the assignment structure. The best posts will be published online and promoted via social networks.

"By making public statements on the basis of sound sociological knowledge of global challenges I hope that students will gain a taste for informed debate that will stick with them throughout their degrees and into whatever career paths they pursue."

Dr Kevin Gillan, Lecturer In Sociology

The Anthropology of Development and Humanitarianism

Engaging with aid practitioners

Aid practitioners are involved in the module ‘The Anthropology of Development and Humanitarianism’.  In preparation, students research the relevant organisations and issues.

Students will produce a website that explains how anthropology can help us better understand the development and humanitarian issues. 

"Anthropology students often ask how the theories that they learn can be relevant to global challenges. Thanks to the award, they will have a chance to explore this question by putting anthropological works in conversation with aid practitioners."

Dr Chika Watanabe, Lecturer In Social Anthropology

Political Questioning in Manchester's Public Sphere

Research on our doorstep

This project involves students going outside the University to attend public political events in Manchester.

Students observe and record the events, evaluating how well Manchester's public sphere is able to question contemporary political issues.

Data is collected and analysed, over the three-year life of the funding, in a student-led research project.  This will lead to a research output in the fourth year, in the form of a research paper presented to staff.

"My aim is for students to develop the research design, carry out the observations, analyse the data and produce a paper from their analysis. I hope they will learn practical research skills as well as develop an appreciation of the vibrant political life of Manchester."

Dr Nick Turnbull, MA Director, Lecturer In Politics

The Politics of Identity and Difference

More than just language support

The curriculum-related activity is a weekly two-hour student-led English language conversation support session. This is offered to asylum seekers and refugees living in Moss Side at The Chrysalis Family Support Centre.

Undergraduate student volunteers studying the Politics course unit ‘The Politics of Identity and Difference’ lead the language conversation classes. The students sign up through the Multilingual Manchester’s student volunteer programme which is run by the School of Arts Languages and Cultures.

Through the course unit, students are provided with the opportunity to meet people in The Chrysalis Family Support Centre. This project has come out of discussions as a result of these trips.

"This project provides both students and local residents with an opportunity to interact and learn more about each other’s linguistic and cultural backgrounds."

Dr Aoileann Ní Mhurchú, Lecturer In International Politics

Forced Migration

A modern day issue

Students on the 'Forced Migration' course benefit from external speakers who focus on the contemporary issue of forced labour.

The speakers include an academic expert alongside someone from Refugee Action, Manchester.  They explore the academic aspects of the topic and the ways in which a local NGO works with susceptible groups, campaigns on their behalf and offers opportunities to volunteer.

"Understanding forced labour in relation to refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants and the ways in which forced labour links to human rights and employments rights abuses are central to awareness raising about social responsibility and marginalised and potentially vulnerable migrants."

Professor Alice Bloch, Professor Of Sociology

Walking tour of Manchester

Exploring the economic, cultural and social significance of migration in contemporary society

Students taking the 'Global Migration' course participate in a walking tour of Manchester.

They trace different migratory movements to the city and identify key signifiers of past and recent migratory movements.

"The walking tour will be interactive and offer students a real insight into the city of Manchester and its history. As well as understanding migration and its impact it will also raise their awareness of other rights struggles that have been central to the city’s history including: the suffragettes, gay rights, religious freedoms and the fight against slavery."

Professor Alice Bloch, Professor Of Sociology

Space and Power and Central Asia (UG and PGT)

Madeleine Reeves, Social Anthropology, delivered a Study Day ‘Water Futures in Asia’ involving academics and activists.

The Study Day focused on the use of water and the politics of its unequal distribution as a lens for exploring a number of issues tied to themes such as water injustice, the desiccation of the Aral Sea, the social lives of cotton manufacture, and the politics of gold mining and glacial melt.

The event provided an opportunity for students to present on their own projects and to engage with guest speakers.

The day concluded with a film screening of Flowers of Freedom, and a discussion with the Director, Mirjam Leuze on the tensions between gold-mining and glacial melt in Kyrgyzstan.

Human Rights in World Politics

Actors for Human Rights and Ice&Fire performed The Asylum Monologues at The University of Manchester in April. The performance was for students from the MA in Human Rights / Human Rights with Law and others with a shared interest in contemporary human rights at the university.

The Asylum Monologues is a first-hand account of the UK’s asylum system in the words of people who have experienced it. Performed by three actors, they read the testimonies of refugees living in the UK and their encounters with UK's asylum system, verbatim. The performance powerfully contextualised notions of Universal Human Rights and this coincided with our Universal Human Rights seminar in the Human Rights in World Politics module. There are plans to make this a yearly event.

Find out more about some of the work that Actors for Human Rights are involved in.

Example course units

Examples of course units with a social responsibility focus:


  • Development Economics
  • Environmental Economics
  • Climate Change Economics
  • Natural Resource Economics
  • Environmental Valuation
  • Economics of Environmental Policy
  • Poverty, Inequality and Government Policy in Less Developed Countries


  • The Politics of Development
  • Critical Environmental Politics
  • Ideals of Social Justice
  • Gender Sexuality and Politics
  • Theories of Rights

Social Statistics

  • Unequal Societies - Health, Wellbeing and Happiness
  • Modelling Social Inequality

Social Anthropology

  • Anthropology of International Development
  • Power and Culture: Inequalities in Everyday Life
  • Engaging with Social Research: Designed around the issue of 'inequality'
  • Political and Economic Anthropology
  • Business Anthropology: corporate social responsibility
  • Medical Anthropology
  • Sub-Saharan Africa


  • Sociology of Consumption
  • Education and Society
  • Creating Multicultural Britain
  • Urban Sociology
  • Patterns of Social Inequalities
  • Sociology of Family Life and Intimacy