Topics in Contemporary Social Theory

The details
Sociology and Criminology
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
14 March 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MA L30112 Sociological Research Methods,
MA L30012 Sociology,
MA L31812 Sociology and Criminology,
MPHDL30048 Sociology,
PHD L30048 Sociology

Module description

This module reviews some of the most significant debates in contemporary social theory while encouraging students to think analytically about theoretical questions and illustrating ways of doing so. The module develops critical thinking around the stakes of claiming the global today. And to do we go into debates and practices that shaped our present epoch. We take European modernity as a critical point in our recent history that accelerated the challenges that we face today—climate emergency, rampant growth, racial, class and gender inequalities. We go deeper into the modern ethos of self-discovery and freedom.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To engage with a broad range of questions, such as: How did modernity shape the idea of the social? How do contemporary theoretical and empirical developments challenge the modern notion of social and gender, power, bodies and identities?

  • To provide a critical way of examining the world by decolonizing history and including diverse contemporary thoughts, as modernity is not the purview of only Europeans. 

  • To consider what have the European moderns left behind? How does being modern today look? This module will consider how the modern looks from a global point of view—what issues are part of this universal, and what should get consciously built? Does the modern look the same for a college student as it looks for a working-class individual? 

  • To consider how these diverse experiences influence our collective politics of reshaping contemporary debates and sharing ideas and experiences for an inclusive future.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the idea of modernity and the modern approach to social theory.

  2. Demonstrate a solid conceptual grounding alongside modes of decolonizing key concepts.

  3. Demonstrate a thorough understanding of 'European modernity' as a particular historical epoch and what has been left out or silenced from the overarching paradigm.

  4. Critically introduce ideas and practices neglected or excluded from contemporary social theory

  5. Create individual points of view while developing skillsets for public speaking and participation in a seminar format.

Module information

Before each week's lecture, students will get a host of resources asynchronously on Moodle to prep for seminar. These resources are: (1) PPT of the weekly lecture (2) short format lecture videos on the topic (3) Questions for seminar discussion. The synchronous seminar (that will be timetabled) will start with an introduction and recap of main points of the lecture. The rest of the seminar will focus on students' discussion on the available questions as well as their comments on the key reading(s). Individual students will be allotted about 10 minutes to forward their point of view. This will also be the time for students to bring their ideas to the seminar and what they thought of the resources available on Moodle. There will be extended discussion on how to write a PGT essay and other doubts that students might have about the module.

Learning and teaching methods

Most modules at postgraduate level in Sociology are taught as a 2hr seminar. Most classes, labs and seminars will be taught face-to-face (assuming social distancing al-lows this). There may also be some online activities – either timetabled as a live online session or available on Moodle in the form of pre-recorded videos. You will be expected to watch this material and engage with any suggested activities before your seminar/class each week. Please note that you should be spending up to ten hours per week undertaking your own private study (reading, preparing for classes or assignments, etc.) on each of your modules (e.g. 30 hours in total for three 20--credit modules). This module [SC901] will include a range of activities to help you and your teachers to check your understanding and progress. These are: [individual student discussion (each week based on key reading, group report and discussion (Week 6), and distrib-ute pointers, videos and questions each week to garner feedback and comments on the course material] The module has a blended learning component. The seminars will be f2f but materials---PPTs, videos, forums---will be on Moodle. You are strongly encouraged to attend the classes/seminars as they provide an op-portunity to talk with your class teacher and other students. The classes/seminars will be captured and available via Listen Again. However, if you want to gain the most you can from these seminars/classes it is very important that you attend and engage. Please note that the recording of seminars/classes is at the discretion of the teacher.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Group Report     10% 
Coursework   Essay     90% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Maitrayee Deka, email:
Dr Maitrayee Deka



External examiner

Prof Benjamin Bradford
University College London
Available via Moodle
Of 6 hours, 6 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information
Sociology and Criminology

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.