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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:
The Sociology of Family Life and Intimacy

Unit code SOCY30842
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Sociology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Theories of individualisation and relationality; time, memory and generation; genealogy and identity; relatedness, affinities and the 'new kinship; families of choice; morality and family secrets; parenting; friendship; relationships with animals; siblings; homes, possessions and money


This module will introduce students to sociological (and popular) debates about the significance and dynamics of family life and intimacy in the UK.  It will explore new ways of looking at family and personal life, in particular by focussing on areas like memory, photographs, family secrets, genealogy, relatedness, parenting, same-sex relationships, friendships, and money and intimacy.  The course will consider contemporary theories of individualisation, personal life and relationality, and assess how effectively they help us to understand changes and dynamics in family life and intimacy.

- To explore new ways of understanding personal life, relationships and intimacy
- To debate the extent to which changes in relationships across gender, generation and sexualities are transforming families
- To establish an understanding of diversity in family living
- To provide students with an understanding of theoretical developments and debates in the field of family life and intimacy

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will:
- Have knowledge of changing patterns and styles of family living
- Understand different contemporary sociological approaches to explaining modern family life and intimacy
- Be able to theorise the changing significance of intimate relationships
- Have an appreciation of the complexity of the debates about whether family life is in decline

Teaching and learning methods

Weekly 3-hour workshop

Assessment methods

One 2 hour examination at the end of the second semester (50%) and 3000 word essay or project (50%)

Feedback methods

Informal feedback will be given during lectures, and formal feedback will be given on the assessed essay.

Recommended reading

Smart, C. (2007) Personal Life, Polity.

Gillis, J. (1966) A World of their Own Making, Mass: Harvard University Press
Morgan, D. (2011) Rethinking Family Practices, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Morgan, D. (1996) Family Connections, Cambridge: Polity
Silva, E. B. and C. Smart (1999) (eds) The 'New' Family? London: Sage
Williams, F. (2004) Rethinking Families, London: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 30
Independent study hours
Independent study 168

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Helen Holmes Unit coordinator

Additional notes

2015/16 timetable
Monday 14:00 - 17:00

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