BASS Politics and Criminology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Work, Economy and Society

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOCY20032
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course offers an examination of the nature of work in capitalist societies. The first half of the course builds a picture of the development of contemporary, global capitalism. We make sense of the nature of capitalism, and its periods of transformation, through looking at institutions, culture and periods of crisis. In the second half of the course, we turn to an examination of work. Work is presented as a highly pervasive institution, structuring life experience within and beyond the workplace. Observing the nature of work over time also reveals transformations in the operation of power in the workplace, in the way work is organised, and in the cultural values typically attached to work. The course presents these changes, and explains them via the large-scale structural aspects of capitalism covered in the first half of the course. In this way, we can connect macro-level social theory with micro-level depictions of life experience, and thus see how capitalism matters for our everyday lives.


This course examines the development of global capitalism from a sociological perspective. It aims to equip students with an understanding of important institutions and processes including: the role of the corporation in society; new forms of management and control in the workplace; the relationship between work and identity; the causes and impact of globalisation; and the nature of economic crises. Throughout, the course aims to develop students' capacities for critical thinking and synthesis, particularly through the application of theoretical insights about the nature of capitalist institutions to understand micro-level features such as changes in relations within workplaces.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the course students will be expected to:

- Understand economic transformation in a social and cultural context.

- Understand, and be able to critically assess, structures and processes affecting the experience of work.

- Understand the effects of globalisation on production and consumption.

These objectives will form the basis upon which students will be examined.

In addition to the above objectives, students will develop and utilise skills in presentation of ideas (in both verbal and written work) and in the use of a wide range of information resources.

Teaching and learning methods

2 hour weekly lecture; 1 hour weekly small-group tutorial; private study with guided reading list.

Assessment methods

Non-assessed learning portfolio with selection of entries submitted for feedback mid-semester.

Online exam (max 2000 words, 100%)

Feedback methods

All sociology courses include both formative feedback - which lets you know how you're getting on and what you could do to improve - and summative feedback - which gives you a mark for your assessed work. In this course you will receive individual written feedback on a non-assessed and assessed assignments, as well as general verbal feedback throughout the course in tutorials and lectures.

Recommended reading

Ingham, G. (2008) Capitalism. Cambridge: Polity.

Castells, M. (2009). The Rise of the Network Society (Second edition). Wiley-Blackwell.

Students new to sociology may wish to examine a general sociological textbook. The following is a brief and readable overview:

Jenkins, R. (2002) Foundations of Sociology, Basingstoke: Palgrave

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 168

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Kevin Gillan Unit coordinator

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