Course 2022-2023 a.y.


Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English
Go to class group/s: 13 - 23
BESS-CLES (7 credits - II sem. - OB  |  SPS/07)
Course Director:

Classes: 13 (II sem.)

Suggested background knowledge

There are no prerequisites. This is an introductory course.

Mission & Content Summary


The purpose of this course is to expose students to the prevailing theories, methods, and research issues of contemporary sociology, with a special focus on economic and political phenomena. The course links key research issues and debates in sociology with research methods and analytic strategies so that students can understand how a sociological perspective contributes to our ability to explain both the macro- and micro-aspects of societies and social organization.





The evolution of markets
Fundamentals of economic sociology
The state and its critics
Case study: the Korean developmental experience
Globalization and its critics
Case study: the Zambian developmental experience


Social stratification
Social mobility and inequality
Inequality, migration, and innovation


History and politics of the welfare state
The welfare state as an efficiency device
The welfare state as a productive factor
Varieties of welfare capitalism
The future of welfare: war, inflation, automation, and climate change


Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Think sociologically about world phenomena.
  • Differentiate sociological thinking from other disciplines.
  • Use conceptual tools from sociology to explain social, political and economic dynamics.


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Apply sociological reasoning and sociological tools so that they can formulate broader or fuller explanations for social phenomena, compared to those offered by other social science disciplines.
  • Interpret data in ways that problematize overly simple solutions and rely on strong explanatory frameworks.

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Guest speaker's talks (in class or in distance)
  • Individual assignments


The class is evaluated primarily through individual assignments / take-home essays (see Assessment Methods).

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  • Individual assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)


Two take-home assignments (1/3 of final grade each)

The two take-home essay-style assignments aim to assess students’ ability to apply the analytical tools presented during the course, to develop sociological explanations for different phenomena, and to interpret major social changes in a rigorous way. The questions will draw on the material/theories covered in classes and will invite students to develop arguments based on their own reading and any relevant empirical evidence (no independent data analysis is expected, but it can be employed). The emphasis should be on developing an argument that directly engages with the essay topic; for further guidance and instructions see slides of class 1 and the ‘Assessment’ section of the course Blackboard, where you will be able to submit your essays by their stated deadlines.

    The maximum word limit will be 1,200 words per question (no minimum), excluding references. You can include figures or tables, if relevant to your argument. Academic-style referencing is expected, as appropriate. All essays need to be inserted as plain text in the Blackboard text box (not as Word or PDF files).


Final exam (1/3 of final grade)

The final exam will last two hours. It will provide 3 analytical questions (essay-style; not merely repeating facts) drawing on classes 13-18, from which you must answer 2.


Optional assignment (you can choose only one of the two options below)

Option 1: Podcast

In a group of two, you can opt to do a podcast on any topic plausibly related to the material covered in this course. So, you should tailor the podcast to a topic of your choice in a way that deepens knowledge on issues covered in class. If in doubt about the suitability of your podcast ideas, there will be collective office hours scheduled on Tuesday 21 February (right after class) where you can raise your questions.

            Detailed instructions on how to produce your podcast (preparing the structure, settling on the content, using specific software, etc.) as well as a sample podcast from last year are available on the ‘Assessments’ page on Blackboard.

            Podcasts will be graded on a continuum between excellent (adds 1.5 point to the final mark of both students) and poor (does not alter your final mark). Length should be approximately 20 minutes (and no more than 25 minutes). The deadline for submitting the assignment (via Blackboard) is Sunday 7/5 at 23:59. Both team members must submit the same podcast file.


Option 2: Short assignment

Students may elect to write a short assignment on the topic of inequality to boost their grades. This will take the form of a hypothetical ‘explainer’ blog post for a policy think tank. Example topics include: ‘Changing inequality patterns in Italy — here is what you need to know,’ ‘The gender pay gap in Turkey — here is what you need to know,’ ‘The impact of the 2015 refugee inflows on wages in Germany — here is what you need to know’…

    The precise topic should be tailored to your interests, as long as it relates to inequality in a meaningful way: you should review the evidence on your chosen topic and weave it together into a coherent narrative (while acknowledging any gaps in our knowledge).

            Short assignments will be graded on a continuum between excellent (adds 1 point to your final mark) and poor (does not alter your final mark). Length should be approximately 700 words (and no more than 750 words). The deadline for submitting the assignment (via Blackboard) is Sunday 7/5 at 23:59.


Final written exam (100%)

The final exam includes two types of questions:

  • 20 multiple choice questions (1 point each).
  • 2 essay-style questions out of a choice of 3 questions (5 points each).

The questions cover all topics of the course. Please see readings and material covered in the slides.

Teaching materials


Students are provided with a selection of readings on the course Bboard site.

Last change 17/12/2022 19:17
BIG (7 credits - I sem. - OB  |  SPS/07)
Course Director:

Classes: 23 (I sem.)

Mission & Content Summary


This course is designed to be a broad introduction to the field of sociology. Students encounter some of the most influential theories developed, imagined and used by sociologists to make sense of the social world. We discuss and acquire familiarity with the concepts sociologists typically use in their work, and with some of the core methods sociologists employ to investigate the social world. For instance, students gain an understanding of what sociologists mean when they talk about culture, socialization and social structure, and how sociologists analyse these concepts linking theory and empirical analyses. The course also encourages students to think critically (i.e. as a social scientist, about human life and societies and develop their own questions about social life). Finally, the course pays particular attention to the broad themes of inequality as it pertains to race, class and gender, the digital revolution and the social changes it brought about, and family changes, by adopting a life course perspective.


First part

What is sociology?

Sociological perspectives

Sociological research methods

Values, norms and socialization

Gender and sexuality

Social interactions, networks and capital

Crime and deviance

Second part:

Families and intimate relationships

The life course

Health and disability

Sociology of COVID-19

Stratification and social class

Race, Ethnicity and Migration

Digital Revolution


Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Autonomously and critically search, and understand, sociological research on a wide range of topics, with diverse methodological approaches, linking this research to wider knowledge across the spectrum of social sciences.


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Cast sociological explanatory hypotheses on a wide range of social phenomena, in particular concerning policy-relevant issues, and to sketch research designs useful to test such hypotheses.

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Interactive class activities (role playing, business game, simulation, online forum, instant polls)


  • Interactive class activities: in almost every lecture there are interactive class activties, such as role playing and puzzles to be solved in group

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  x x



The assessment will consist in a written exam, either taken through two partial exams (each with a 1/2 weight towards the overall grade) or one general exam (with a 100% weight towards the overall grade). 


Exams: written exams include both short answers and essay-style questions. The questions cover theory, and interpretation of the results of applied research. The exam covers all topics of the course. Material covered in the lectures, in the text book and other set readings may be included in the exam. 

Teaching materials


  • Book: A. GIDDENS, P.W. SUTTON, Sociology,  Polity, 8th Edition.
  • Readings: a set of readings and lecture slides are available on Bboard.
Last change 08/06/2022 15:55