BA Sociology and Arabic

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Sustainability, Consumption & Global Responsibilities

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOCY20231
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Sustainability is one of the most challenging and important issues of our time.  It relates to  a number of concerns about climate change, the depletion of natural resources, economic  growth, well-being, social justice, global inequalities and the very future of humankind.  These concerns are currently being addressed in debates about the nature, necessity and  possibility of sustainable consumption and so this course introduces students to the ways  in which consumers, businesses and governments are responding to these challenges. A  number of topics will be studied, including: consumer society and culture, ethical and political consumption, Fairtrade, global commodity chains, and sufficiency. These issues will be explored using a  mixture of research articles and case studies of real world initiatives.This course will appeal to students with an interest in consumption, businesses, environmental issues, ethics and global organisations.  


  • To provide students with a general introduction to the field of sustainable consumption
  • To demonstrate the potential of the social sciences to engage with issues of global significance
  • To explore the origins and consequences of the things that consumers do in their everyday lives
  • To examine the role of businesses, governments and other organisations in moving towards a more sustainable future.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students will:

  • Understand the relationships between consumption and global processes
  •  Understand the complexities and contradictions that are inherent in sustainability debates
  • Have an appreciation of the various actors and organisations that are responding to the challenges of sustainable consumption
  • Grasp key approaches to consumption and social change

Teaching and learning methods

One weekly 2 hour lecture and one weekly one hour small group tutorial.  

Assessment methods

Non-Assessed Coursework

Mid-term mutiple choice test (in tutorial)

Essay plan (300 words).

Assessed Coursework (100% of final mark)

2000 word essay (end of semester)

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.  

Recommended reading

• Middlemiss, L. (2018) Sustainable Consumption: Key Issues. Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge  

• Miller, D. (2012) Consumption and its Consequences. Cambridge: Polity Reisch, L. and Thøgersen, J. (eds.) (2015) Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing  

• Sassatelli, R. (2007) Consumer Culture: History, Theory and Politics, London: Sage  

• Warde, A. (2017) Consumption: A Sociological Analysis. London: Palgrave MacMillan  

• Zaccaï, E. (ed.) (2007) Sustainable Consumption, Ecology and Fair Trade. London: Routledge  

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Maisie Tomlinson Unit coordinator

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