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School of Social Sciences

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BSocSc Sociology
Learn to critically analyse and interpret societies and gain skills for a variety of careers.

BSocSc Sociology / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Sociology of the Body

Unit code SOCY30141
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Sociology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The body is a relatively recent field of study in sociology, and this module will start by considering why sociology neglected to study the body for a long time. Thereafter it will consider some important theoretical approaches to understanding bodies sociologically; particular ideas about the 'social construction' of the body and ideas about the cultural and social history of the body. These theoretical approaches will lay the foundations for the introduction to more substantive issues, including the contemporary concern over body size (whether too thin or too fat); cosmetic surgery, tattoos and other body modification techniques; ways of dressing and presenting the body; the fragmentation of bodies into body parts; transgender; the masculine body and issues around ageing and disabled bodies. The substantive topics, in particular, may change as new developments emerge in the field.


The unit aims to:
  • Introduce students to sociological ways of understanding ‘the body’ and its significance in contemporary society, and thus allow them to gain specialist expertise on this field of inquiry
  • Introduce students to different theoretical approaches to studying the body sociologically as well as substantive areas of study 
  • Examine ideas around the mind/body split and explore critically the idea that bodies are given in nature
  • Examine the extent to which bodies are socially constructed and hence gendered, classed and raced
  • Address the various ways in which bodies are regulated and shaped in contemporary life

Learning outcomes

Student will be able to
  • Apply their knowledge of sociological theory of the body to enable them to recognise the nature of sociological questions in this field 
  • Appreciate, understand and interpret the complexity of the role of the body in society, including conducting sociological analysis of diverse aspects of the body, e.g. the masculine body and body modifications
  • Reason critically about the notion of a mind/body split and analyse the idea that bodies are given in nature. This for example through the study of disabled bodies, body transgressions and the ageing body
  • Develop a coherent analysis of a substantive topic, e.g. body parts
  • Develop skills in communication and presentation and engage constructively and effectively with others through workshop participation and especially group work based presentations
  • Interpret and critically evaluate evidence about society and the body using a variety of sources

Teaching and learning methods

Weekly 1 x 3 hour workshop. The course will utilise Blackboard 9 in delivering the module’s course content, core readings, lecture slides, supplementary material including films, and communication.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%

Feedback methods

Informal feedback will be given on the non-assessed essay plan due before the essay, plus formal feedback will be given on the assessed essay.

Recommended reading

Bordo, S. (1993), Unbearable Weight, Introduction. University of California Press

Featherstone, M. et al (2001) The Body. Sage

Howson, A. (2005) The Body in Society: An Introduction. Polity

Turner, B. (2008, 3rd edition) The Body and Society. Sage

Low, J. and Malacrida. C. (2008) Sociology of the Body: A Reader. Oxford University Press.

Cregan, K (2012) Key Concepts in Body and Society. Sage.

Moore, L. J. and Casper, M. (2014) The Body: Social and Cultural Dissections. Routledge.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 30
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nick Crossley Unit coordinator

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