In nine days, my first year of university will come to an end(ish). It will officially end once I’ve done my final exam some time in May. But as of the 24th March, teaching in the sociology department for us first years will stop. Nineteen weeks of university have scarily flown by.
In this post I am going to outline the academic side of my first year, so modules and assessments. Next week I’m planning on writing a post on my own personal experience of first year with some help and tips and things I wish I had done differently and things I would not change for the world.
Semester One: September – December (10 weeks of teaching)
- Cyber Sociology – This module was all about the cyber world we are immersed in and the pros and cons of it. From things such as surveillance to identity creation and the different personas a person can adopt online. This module was 100% assessed via coursework which was a 3,000 word essay. We were given a section of questions to choose from which covered all aspects of the module. When I first started to write my essay, it was overwhelming but as I got going and came across more appropriate readings I started to find that 3,000 words were too less and that I needed to cut quite a bit out.
- Power, Privilege and Diversity – This module covered a whole range of topics from meritocracy, happiness and power as a concept. The module explored power relations at every level of very everyday things from work to the family. This module, like cyber, was 100% assessed via coursework but this time in the form of two essays. The first essay was 1,200 words and needed to be a critique of meritocracy as something that distributes rewards unequally in society. The second essay was 1,800 words and for that we needed to analyse a blog post of a woman who was denied entry in to the UK at Heathrow airport. We were asked to explore who had power in the situation presented.
- Sociology: A Beginners Guide – This module was basically a guide to sociology. It explored the events surrounding the birth of sociology as a discipline, key thinkers and sociological writers and the uses of sociology. This was the only module which was not assessed via coursework in the first semester. This module was 100% exam, which took place in January. However, because of the structure of the exam paper you only had to revise one thinker and one thing from the development of sociology and the practice of it. So the revision was not too heavy!
Semester two – January – March (9 weeks of teaching)
- Society in Transformation – This module has been exploring how society has been transforming in terms of the city. education and crime. It has gone into some depth about how the ‘city’ has changed over the years, how the education system has been subjected to many reforms and how crime has changed. This module is assessed via coursework, a 3,000 word essay exploring and applying the concepts covered in lectures and seminars to examples more relevant to today. The essay is split in to three parts (city, education and crime)
- Thinking Sociologically about Crime – This module is pretty self explanatory. It explores the reasons as to why people thought crime was committed over the years. So exploring things from biological determinism to labelling theory. It has also explored the social contract to policing. This module has a split in the way it is assessed. The first 50% of the assessment comes from a 1,500 word essay. For this we were given a selection of three questions and we have to choose one to answer. The other 50% of the assessment is an exam which will be taken in May.
- We are what we buy: Consumption, Self and Identity – This module has explored how consumption has shaped the society we live in. From the emergence of the ‘teenager’ as a consumer group to ethical consumption and the effects of sweatshops. This module, like most of the modules taken this year, is 100% assessed via coursework, a 3,000 case study/essay on one or more of the topics covered in the lectures.
All six modules taken this year had two lectures per week (each lecture is one hour) and one seminar per week (seminars are also one hour). Only ‘society in transformation’ had a bi-weekly seminar which is two hours. So in an average week as a first year sociology student, we had nine contact hours. That is not that much in the grand scheme of things but the course requires you to do a lot of independent work be that reading or preparing for the next lecture or seminar.
All modules in first year are not optional, these are compulsory.