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School of Social and Political Science

SOCIOLOGY 1B: The Sociological Imagination – Private Troubles, Public Problems (U03815)


About Sociology 1b 2

Course Content: 6

UNIT 1: Faith and Disenchantment (Tom McGlew) 6

UNIT 2: Deviance, Stigma and Intoxication (Angus Bancroft) 9

UNIT 3: Violence in Social Life (Hugo Gorringe) 12

UNIT 4: The Making of Identities (Lynn Jamieson) 17

Tutorial Topics 22

Essay Topics 24

Appendix One: A Guide to Referencing 28

Appendix Two: Essay Submission 30

Appendix Three: May 2008 Exam Paper 33

Appendix Four: Guide to Online Tutorial Sign-Up 34

Appendix Five: Feedback on Sociology 1b exam, May 2008 35

Appendix Six: Common Essay Marking Descriptors 38

About Sociology 1b

Sociology is the study of the individual in society. It examines how personal life is shaped by the nation-state, culture, economics, institutions and so on, how we make choices, how we attach meanings to experiences, and how what we do changes what is around us. It covers almost every aspect of human experience and behaviour, so is potentially an enormous field. This course introduces you to the sociological perspective by examining four aspects of social life: faith and disenchantment, intoxication, violence, and identity. The theme of the course is the relationship between private troubles and public problems, how personal challenges many of us face in our lives are shaped and defined in ways that often appear to be beyond our direct control.


The course has three broad aims and four objectives:

It is an introduction to the discipline of sociology, particularly for those with little or no previous experience of it. The course both ‘stands alone’ for those for whom it is their first exposure to the subject, and also builds on the knowledge gained in Sociology 1a on the Individual in Society. It also provides a basis for further study in Sociology 2 and Honours.

It will allow individual students to develop an understanding of their own personal experiences in sociological terms and to use this experience in the course.

It will give students a flavour of four substantive issues in the discipline of sociology, their definition, investigation and presentation.


By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • Show an understanding of four key sociological issues of faith and disenchantment, intoxication, violence, and identity

  • Identify some of the key social problems and issues facing modern societies.

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between argument and evidence.

  • Apply sociological analysis to other areas of life.

Course Regulations and Procedures

Sociology is part of the School of Social and Political Science. You must read this booklet in conjunction with the Social and Political Science Student Handbook as all the regulations detailed there apply to this course. If you are new to the course please be sure you have both handbooks (available from Chrystal Macmillan Undergraduate Teaching Office). Here we outline either aspects that are specific to this course or matters that are so essential that they deserve reiteration.

Lecture Time and Place

Tuesday and Friday, 14:00-14:50, David Hume Tower Lecture Theatre A.

Teaching Team


Tom McGlew,, 2.02, 7 Buccleuch Place.

Angus Bancroft,, Room 6.23 Chrystal Macmillan Building.

Hugo Gorringe,, Room 6.30 Chrystal Macmillan Building.

Lynn Jamieson,, Room 5.04 Chrystal Macmillan Building.

Course Organiser: Angus Bancroft, Room 6.23, 6th Floor Chrystal Macmillan Building, Phone: 650 6642, e-mail: Office hours Tuesdays 9-11 a.m.

Senior Tutor: Emre Tarim, Please email to schedule a suitable time if an appointment is required.

Course Secretary: Katie Teague, Undergraduate Teaching Office, Chrystal Macmillan Building.

Office Opening Hours: 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-16:00.

Phone: 650 4001, e-mail:


You will need to sign up for a tutorial on WebCT. Instructions on how to do this can be found in Appendix Four of this booklet. There is no tutorial in Week 1 of the course.

Tutorial attendance is a requirement of the course. All students who miss more than two consecutive tutorials have to give written explanation to their tutor. Students who miss more than three tutorials will have their final mark reduced by one percentage point for each unapproved absence above the threshold, and will not have their overall mark raised if their performance is borderline. Consult your tutor or the Undergraduate Teaching Office for notification procedures.


You produce one essay for the course (40% of your final mark) and sit a Degree Examination (60% of your final mark). The examiners’ meeting is normally held in late May and your result is available soon after that. The essay and examination script of any candidate given a marginal fail or an A grade will be reviewed the external examiner, who also reviews a sample of all work submitted for the course in order to ensure consistency and quality of marking.

The most common cause of failure is that students do not do the course reading or attend lectures. All students who fail the course must take the re-sit examination in August. The final mark for those who pass the resit (with no mitigating circumstances) will be ‘capped’ at 50%. You do not have to register for the resit exam, but it is your responsibility to find the time and location on the Registry website at


You must submit an essay for this course. See the back of this booklet for essay topics, readings, and due dates. You must submit a copy of your essay to WebCT, in addition to submitting one hard copy to the essay box by 3pm on the day of deadline. See Appendix Two at the back of this booklet for further information. Both versions of your essay must be submitted correctly and on time or they will be subject to lateness penalties.

ESSAY DEADLINE – 3pm, Friday 27th February 2009 (Week 7)

We aim to return your essays, with appropriate comments and a provisional grade, within three weeks of submission, if handed in on time. For guidance on making the most out of feedback, see

Avoiding Plagiarism and Duplication

Material you submit for assessment, such as your essay, must be your own, original, work, produced for this course and session. It must not have been submitted to another unit of assessment, either here or at another institution. You can and should draw upon published work, ideas from lectures and tutorial discussions, and discussions with other students, but you must always make clear that you are doing so. Passing off anyone else's work (including another student's work or material from the Web or a published author) as your own is plagiarism and will be punished severely. Assessed work that contains plagiarised or duplicate material will be given a mark of zero and will also be reported to the College Academic Misconduct Officer. Serious cases of plagiarism may be subject to further disciplinary action. In either case, the actions taken will be noted permanently on the student's record. This happened in five cases last year. For guidance see:

Writing Style and Referencing

Clear, effective writing is a skill we want you to develop. Read over your work before you submit it, and if possible, ask a friend to do the same. Make the most of your tutor’s comments. You can find advice on essay writing here: If you are in need further help you can ask your tutor, use a study skills book like Creme, P. & M.R. Lea. (1997) Writing At University: A Guide For Students, Philadelphia, Open University Press, or contact the Teaching, Learning and Assessment unit who provide support for students’ learning, at

Adequate referencing is another important academic skill. Your essays must include a list of references at the end. For the appropriate format, check one of the major Sociology journals stored in the library such as the British Journal of Sociology. If in doubt, consult your tutor. Marks will be deducted for essays where the referencing is not properly done. In exams be sure to reference an author by name when using their ideas, although you do not need to give the full reference to their published work.


Sociology 1b will have a two hour degree examination at the end of Semester 2. The examination consists of two sections, covering the last two units of the course, one question to be answered from each section. There will be three questions to choose from in each section.

  • You must pass the examination (pass mark 40%) to pass the course.

  • The examination mark contributes 60% of the overall assessment.

  • There are no exemptions for the exam.

A copy of last year’s degree examination paper is in Appendix Three.

You have the right to see your exam script and get feedback on your exam performance. This can only be done after the exam board has met and marks have been confirmed. Please email the course tutor, Emre Tarim,, if you would like to get feedback on your exam.

After the exam board has met, a general report on how the class as a whole answered the exam questions will be posted on WebCT. This will not refer to individuals but rather give a sense of where people tended to go right and wrong in the exam. A report on last year’s exam is in Appendix Five. Read this in conjunction with last year’s exam paper. Students usually find it helpful to read this before beginning their own exam revision.

See the School handbook for examination registration procedures.

Suggestions about exam performance

Here are some general observations on exam performance, partly based on past Sociology exam results, which are provided to help you avoid some common problems in exams.

1) Answer the question. Attend to the specifics of the question and do not use material indiscriminately.

2) Focus your answer. Excellent and very good answers provide a clear argument in response to an examination question. Poorer answers are marred by repetition, and the use of lots of unnecessary padding, personal arguments and ‘common sense’ statements.

3) Use the course material. Particularly poor exams reference no course materials at all and fall back not only on singularised personal perspectives, but also on non-academic material from fashion magazines, TV programmes and newspapers. Used judiciously as illustrations, this kind of material can be good, but only if placed in the context of course readings and concepts.

4) Referencing. There are often quite a few basic errors in the attribution of names to intellectual traditions. In Sociology 1a, “Simmel of the Chicago School” was fairly common.

5) Provide evidence of reading. This is key. Good answers provide evidence of reading. It is not sufficient to rely on lecture notes/slides.

Course Readings

Readings will be available on the Sociology 1b WebCT page under the ‘Resources’ icon where stated in this handbook. Other readings will be available through the library and other sources.

Student Representation

The Sociology Department welcomes student input into the management of the course and its assessment, and runs a Staff-Student Liaison Committee at which class representatives are present. Students will be asked to volunteer as tutorial reps at the first tutorial session and from these reps the class representatives will be chosen. Any problems with the course should first be raised with your tutor or with the course organiser, Dr. Angus Bancroft. We will also ask you to fill in an overall assessment form at the end of the course.

Course Information

During the course of the year, all important information for the class will be announced in lectures. Information will also be posted on the notice board outside the School of Social and Political Science Undergraduate Teaching Office, CMB. Course handouts, overhead slides, details of class reps, etc. will be posted on WebCT.
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