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Undergraduate Module Descriptor

SOC2050: Knowing the Social World

This module descriptor refers to the 2020/1 academic year.


NQF Level 5
Credits 15 ECTS Value 7.5
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 1 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Professor Jane Elliott (Convenor)


SOC1037 SOC1038  SOC1020



Available via distance learning


Social life is arguably the best ‘reality program’ in the world – 24/7, high resolution, 3D, multi-sensory, and with 360°surround.Knowing how to pay attention to social life, however, is not straightforward. It involves principles from social science, but it is also an art, and a craft. This module draws together issues common to sociology and empirical philosophy to explore what there is to know about social life and how to know and represent it. You will consider techniques such as participant observation, unobtrusive and oblique measures, the senses and sensory modes of knowing, conversation, discourse and narrative analysis, and the in-depth interview. You will try your hand at using these techniques in workshops and tutorials, and in assessed written work. You will also consider practices of accounting for and describing social data with an eye to the ways that writing and telling do not merely describe but contribute to what we know, and can know, about social reality.

There are no prerequisites for this module. It is designed for students with a strong interest in the practical observation of everyday life and the theoretical issues associated with this observation. If you are doing an interdisciplinary pathway that includes sociology, anthropology, philosophy, psychology, or even literature or drama, this module might be of interest to you.

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