First Year Modules
In Year 1, the core modules will introduce you to the classic thinkers in sociology, going from Marx and Durkheim in the nineteenth century up to the present. We also focus on two key themes for sociologists; identities and inequalities, using studies of education, social class and gender, among others. Finally you will also learn about the ways sociologists actually do research, and you will carry out small projects based on your understandings of these methods.
The Sociology core modules are:
We would like students to arrive with some background knowledge, but we do not expect our students to have any previous experience of sociology. In fact, we would encourage you not to rely on your 'A' level studies as you enter your degree programme. At university, you will have many opportunities to develop a broader and more critical understanding of society and social analysis than is offered through ‘A’ levels (or their equivalents).
We encourage you to read at least one of the following books over the summer:
Fevre, Ralph and Bancroft, Angus (2010) Dead White Men and Other Important People: Sociology’s Big Ideas, Palgrave Macmillan
Banyard, Kat (2010) The Equality Illusion, Faber and Faber
Dorling, Danny (2011) Injustice: Why Social Inequality Persists Policy Press.
Orwell, George (2001, 1937) The Road to Wigan Pier, Penguin
We also suggest that you buy a good ‘Introduction to Sociology’ book that is relevant to degree level studies rather than ‘A’ level. A number of these works, by authors such as Giddens (Sociology, Polity Press); Haralambos (Sociology: themes and perspectives, Collins); and Fulcher and Scott (Sociology, Oxford UP), for example, are available from the main academic publishers, bookshops or Amazon if you want to get reading before you arrive at Aston.
Keep an eye on the press. Some of the better quality online versions of newspapers have sections of their sites where they archive articles relating to topics you will be studying such as education, gender, social change, and social identities. Also, bear in mind that although much of what is studied in Year 1 is British-based, that the ideas and experiences sociology covers are not restricted by national boundaries.
Think about what the News International ‘phone hacking’ scandal says about what we think is normal and not normal in public life; what the reforms of higher education will mean for students from different walks of life; or how cutbacks in the public services will impact on British life.
But also, get interested in what is happening in other places, and think about how it affects, or is affected by, what happens here. Does it matter that the President of the USA is black or white? Who to, how and why? What are the links between Britain and the political turmoil in the North Africa and the Middle East? Above all, try to see your own life not just on an individual basis, but as part of historical and social trends. Being able to relate biography to history and society is what you will be urged to do throughout your degree.