Over the last few months I have been writing a number of blogs which outline the modules I have completed over my time at university so that anybody looking to study Sociology here can get a feel for what to expect. So here’s what I got up to in my first semester of third year:
1. Modern Social Theory: This was a compulsory module in which you examine a number of key contemporary thinkers such as Beck, Giddens, Bauman, Habermas, Bourdieu and Foucault who address major social phenomena such as interpersonal relations, power, the process of communication, the formal structure of networks, climate change, and the expansion of the human rights regime. The assessment consists of a 3,000 word essay and an oral presentation with a presentation write up. I chose to concentrate on the work of Bourdieu for the presentation and for the essay I examined Giddens’, Bauman’s and Sennett’s work on modernity. I did very well in this module and learning about contemporary theories has proven useful for other modules.
2. Drugs and Society: This module involved an examination of the classification of drugs and the historical emergence of certain intoxicants, including how the use of psychoactive substances has changed in relation to broader social developments. You then look at the social consequences of different regimes of regulation surrounding the use of illicit substances and examine the concept of addiction. The assessment was a 3 hour exam and although that seems long it was a seen paper which means we were given the questions a few weeks in advance. I chose to answer a question on addiction whereby I assessed the usefulness of numerous addiction treatments from 12-step programs to motivational enhancement therapy to in-patient residential treatment. I also answered a question on drug legislation for which I looked at the usefulness of prohibition for tackling binge drinking. I then answered a question on drug theory where I discussed how the work of sociological theorists can be used to understand why people take or deal drugs. I loved this module as it was very current and it really questioned common assumptions on drugs and alcohol.
3. Research Project (otherwise known as dissertation): This module is spread across both semesters and counts for 40 credits rather than the usual 20 credits. The dissertation gives you a chance to apply all your sociological knowledge to your own research in an area of your choice. It is made up of 6 chapters: an introduction (a summary of your research and hypotheses), a literature review (a summary of the existing studies on your research topic), a discussion of your research design (an outline of your research approach and methods), a discussion of your findings (a summary of your findings), a reflection on the project (an outline of any problems you faced during the data collection stages) and a conclusion (a final summary of everything and proposals for future research). This is to add up to 10,000 words. I have written numerous blogs on the progress I have made with my dissertation throughout the year so if you’re interested in finding out more than please feel free to have a look at these. It has certainly been a challenge completing the research project but I have thoroughly enjoyed it too.
There were also loads of other modules to choose from instead of the Drugs and Society one. To find out more about these then look here.