MA Political Science - Political Theory Pathway (Standard Route) / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

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Course unit details:
Social Theory & Cultural Identity

Unit code SOCY60331
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Sociology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Brief Outline of the Module
Week 1. Introduction: How Did We Get to Here: Part One
2 How Did We Get to Here 'Part 2
3 From Postmodernity to Risk Society
4&5 Identity, Trust and Community.
6. Alasdair MacIntyre: Tradition, Crisis and Moral Change.
7. Charles Taylor, hermeneutics and the self
8. Sociology, Morality and Demoralisation.
9, Zygmunt Bauman; Postmodern sociology and ethical critique
10 Discussion and final presentations.


The course aims to appeal to graduate students thinking about the nature and purpose of contemporary social theory. It will seek to explore issues in relation to the contested nature of the concepts of tradition and detraditionalization, community and individual. This will be done by examining the way these concepts have been thematised in classical social thought and in recent discussions around self identity, communitarianism, modern forms of collective representation and ideologies. A particular focus of the course will be the role of ethical/moral categories in social explanation and understanding. Writers discussed will include such figures as Alasdair MacIntyre, Zygmunt Bauman and Charles Taylor. The course will combine elements of a general survey of recent aspects of social thought with some more focused attention on particular thinkers and texts.

Learning outcomes

The principle objectives of the module are to impart an understanding of the nature and significance of aspects of social theory and to foster a capacity for the critical evaluation of key theorists and theoretical texts. To further these objectives it is essential to encourage a capacity to write analytically about the themes of the module.

Teaching and learning methods

Weekly lectures and tutorials.

Assessment methods

3,000 word assessed essay.

Recommended reading

P.Heelas ed Detraditionalisation,
A. MacIntyre, After Virtue,
Z.Bauman , Postmodern Ethics,
C.Taylor, The Ethics of Authenticity.
A. Seligman, Modernity's Wager
J.Jervis, Exploring the Modern

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Peter McMylor Unit coordinator

Additional notes




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