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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

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Self and Society

Unit code SOCY20402
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Sociology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course opens with an introduction to what is distinctive about how sociology approaches the issue of 'self'. This provides a basis for the lectures that follow, where we examine how different sociological approaches have conceptualised the self. We compare approaches that portray society as something external to us with approaches that focus on the relational and interactional aspects of the self. We also examine a variety of other aspects of the self such as how we make sense of ourselves through narrative, how our selves are always embodied, and the role that the habitual and the unconscious play in our sense of self.


This course unit aims to:
- Introduce students to sociological approaches to the study of self.
- Provide students with a theoretical understanding of the links between self and society.
- Provide students with conceptual tools for studying individuals in society.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will:
- have knowledge of the interconnections between self and society
- have an appreciation of why and how the individual is important to the study of society
- have conceptual understanding of how 'the social' can be studied through 'the individual'.

Teaching and learning methods

Weekly 2 hour lecture +
Weekly 1 hour tutorial.

Assessment methods

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

Feedback methods

All sociology courses include both formative feedback – which lets you know how you’re getting on and what you could do to improve – and summative feedback – which gives you a mark for your assessed work.


2,000 word essay
2 hour examination

Recommended reading

Adams, Matthew (2007) Self and Social Change, London: Sage.
Burkitt, Ian (2008) Social Selves: Theories of Self and Society (2nd ed), London: Sage.
Elliott, Anthony (2001) Concepts of the Self, Cambridge: Polity Press.
Gergen, Kenneth J. (1999) An Invitation to Social Construction, London: Sage. Goffman, Erving (1959) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
Mead, G.H. (1934) Mind, Self and Society: From the Standpoint of a Social Behaviourist, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lawler, Steph (2008) Identity: Sociological Perspectives, Cambridge: Polity.
May, V. (2013) Connecting Self to Society: Belonging in a Changing World, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 168

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Vanessa May Unit coordinator

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