This module introduces students to the main themes, arguments and concepts in both Politics and Sociology. It begins by looking at the beginning of Western political thought in ancient times with the work of Plato and Aristotle. It then shows how these ideas evolved and emerged in a modern form in contemporary social and political thought. The module then provides an introduction to some of the main topics in Sociology. The focus in this section is on 'sites of difference' within society such as class, race, gender, nation, culture and religion.

The final section of the module includes a critical analysis of topics that are relevant to both Politics and Sociology such as media, globalisation and environmentalism. The module does not assume any prior knowledge of any of the topics. It aims to take the students through the material at a pace that allows for a sound and critical understanding of these key topics and to prepare them fully for academic life as an undergraduate in the social sciences and humanities.


1. To provide an introduction to the history of social and political theory.
2. To encourage students to think critically and carefully about issues such as ideology, justice, freedom, rights and identity.
3. To encourage students to follow events in contemporary politics and current affairs.
4. To understand the importance of the relationship between ethics and politics.
5. To enable students to become familiar with the academic conventions of university life.
6. To encourage students to be confident in the expression of their thoughts and ideas in seminars and tutorials.
7. To understand the basic principles of data analysis

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module a student will be expected to be able to:

1. Demonstrate a good knowledge and understanding of the history of social and political theory.
2. Critically analyse issues and themes in contemporary politics and sociology.
3. Evaluate and distinguish between different propositions and arguments.
4. Select and evaluate primary and secondary sources and reference accurately in their assignments.
5. To be able to write clear, well structured and critical essays.
6. Understand the basic principles of data analysis.


Topic 1: The origins of political thought in classical times
Topic 2: The emergence of new political ideologies in the modern period
Topic 3: Marxism
Topic 4: Liberalism
Topic 5: Conservatism
Topic 6: Anarchism
Topic 7: Democracy
Topic 8: Introduction to Sociology
Topic 9: Social Class
Topic 10: Race and ethnicity
Topic 11: Sex and Gender
Topic 12: Nationalism
Topic 13: Culture
Topic 14: Religion
Topic 15: Globalisation
Topic 16: Environmentalism
Topic 17: Media
Topic 18: Crime


Reflective summary - 200 words, in week 20, 10% weighting
Essay - 1,500 words, in week 25, 30% weighting
Data analysis exercise - 750 words, in week 32, 20% weighting
Integrated essay and data analysis exercise - 2,000 words, in week 37, 40% weighting
End-of-year three-hour exam - 50% weighting

Non-assessed coursework
Students will complete a formative task in the first term. This will take the form of a summary of a newspaper or short journal article and include at least two references from it.

50% coursework and 50% exam
Pass mark: 40%