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Introduction to Sociology

Introduction to Sociology Brief description Sociology is the study of society and social behaviour, both on the [...]

    Introduction to Sociology

    Brief description

    Sociology is the study of society and social behaviour, both on the scale of large social institutions, such as education, politics, or the media, and on the small scale of individual people’s experience. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about the origins, development, organization, networks, and institutions of society and social order, disorder, and change.

    Studying sociology enables us to explain how society works and how it influences us. Without this knowledge, we are not able to understand much of our own behaviour, thoughts and ideas; neither will we be able to understand how and why societies sometimes malfunction and need to change. Knowing something about this subject is therefore essential for those who would like to have an active and positive role in our ever-changing social environment.

    Status Optional Elective

    Prerequisites (Essential)

    Competence in English for academic purposes

    Recommended prior study

    Broad general knowledge of the humanities – history, geography, religion; some prior knowledge of philosophy, psychology, media studies, or cultural studies an advantage.


    24 x 50 min lessons

    Ebrahim College is committed to delivering a comprehensive curriculum that includes not only the core texts of Islam, springing from Qur’an and Sunnah, but also the essential contextual sciences which give us an understanding of the world we live in today.

    Sociology is the core social science and covers a wide range of theoretical perspectives and practical research methods; an understanding of the basic principles of sociology is therefore essential for the application of Islamic knowledge in the context of today’s societies.
    Content summary In this course, we will study how sociology, as a core social science, uses a full range of research methodologies and techniques. These skills are applicable across the whole of the social sciences, and so this course is an ideal introduction to research for those who would like to become researchers themselves.

    After looking at what sociology is and how it is done, we turn to a key sociological theme, that of ‘the formation of personal and social identity’. Under this heading we gain a clearer idea of what an individual identity is and how we both create and are created by society and community. Other themes include ‘culture’, ‘social class’, ‘ethnicity’, ‘gender’, ‘globalisation’, ‘work’, and ‘the media’.

    We finish by examining new ways of thinking about society in the 21st century, the age of globalisation and mass media, and the key issues of subculture and deviance; these have a direct relevance to contemporary concerns about the presence of Muslims in ‘Western’ societies and controversial political initiatives such as the Prevent agenda.

    These are all areas of life which affect us continuously and which everyone thinks they understand. But do we? Sociology is a science that helps us to look beneath the surface of our ordinary, everyday understanding.

    Lesson 1
    Sociological thinking
    The role of theory
    Evaluation in research

    Lesson 2
    Structural and action theories
    Theory and practice
    Key issues in methodology

    Lesson 3
    What is sociological research?
    Reliability and validity
    Quantitative and qualitative data

    Lesson 4
    Questionnaires, Interviews, Observation
    Secondary sources
    Life documents

    Lesson 5
    Sociology as a science
    Values in sociology; ethical problems
    The role of the researcher

    Lesson 6
    Positivism and interpretivism
    Theory and method, a changing relationship
    Using mixed methods

    Lesson 7
    Key issues in the formation of identity
    Relevant research methodologies and methods
    Definitions: the individual, society

    Lesson 8
    Definitions: identity, culture
    The relationship between the individual and society
    Social class

    Lesson 9
    Gender and Age
    Socialisation: Globalisation, Community, The workplace

    Lesson 10
    The influence of the mass media
    Postmodern identities
    Post-structuralism and identity

    Lesson 11
    Do we create society or does society create us?
    Power and identity: Michel Foucault
    Youth subcultures
    Crime and deviance

    Lesson 12
    End of module assessment

    Learning Outcomes Students will know and understand:

    • the principles of sociology as a social science
    • how sociology collects and analyses data to produce models of society
    • the methods used in sociological research
    • the ethical dimension of research methodologies
    • philosophical debates in the development of sociology as a discipline
    • how social identities are formed, including race, ethnicity, gender, and class
    • how society has changed over time and produced new personal identities
    • the rise of diverse youth subcultures
    • how crime and social deviance are produced by society

    Students will be able to:

    • Explain how sociology creates model of society and evaluate competing models
    • Analyse and evaluate a piece of sociological research
    • Explain how society has changed since the beginning of the 20th century and our understanding of that process
    • Apply their knowledge and understanding to the situation of the Muslims in the UK today

    Teaching and learning Staff/Student contact time: 65%
    Student private study: 35%

    Assessment 90 minute terminal examination

    Indicative resources Sociology AS for OCR by Kidd, W. et al. (Heinemann)

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