Sociology of Culture SOCIO5108

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

The purpose of this course is to explore and unpack the concept of culture and the term "cultural" embedded in sociological discourse and analysis. The course will start with historical discussion of the concept of culture drawing on anthropological and sociological work and highlight the different ways in which it is used in sociology. The course will move on to discuss theoretical and methodological issues in the study of culture and cultural phenomena by interrogating the neutrality of the concept, whether it should be used in singular or plural and offer an overview of the different schools in the study of culture drawing on anthropology and cultural sociology (from Durkheim to cultural anthropology, the Frankfurt school, the Birmingham School, Bourdieu and more recent cultural sociological work). This discussion will set the scene for an exploration of culture and colonialism and culture and imperialism which intends to challenge the idea of one culture and introduce the concept of power in cultural phenomena and what is considered culture including the issue of race and slavery as a means of developing western culture. The course will then continue with a series of thematic explorations around culture and class gender and culture, culture and the body, culture and art to move on to a discussion of popular culture and media. The course will conclude with a discussion of culture and globalization weaving in the previous themes and theories.


10 x 2-hour seminars during a 10-week semester.

Requirements of Entry


Excluded Courses





The assessment for this course is in two parts. The first part consists of an 800 -1000 blog post in which students will pick a contemporary cultural phenomenon /incident of their choice and discuss it in light of a theoretical perspective discussed in the course (20% weight).


The Second assessment (80%) consists of an open-ended essay question on what is culture which students can tackle in 3000 words utilising up to two themes/theories perspectives in their answer and as an alternative  a set of topic specific questions.

Course Aims

■ To explore the concept of culture

■ To enhance students' understanding of cultural phenomena as historical and social

■ To engage with theories of culture

■ To investigate how culture is embedded in social practice

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

■ By the end of this course students will be able to:


■ Critically evaluate the concept of culture

■ Identify cultural phenomena within historical time

■ Identify, understand and evaluate different theories and perspectives on culture 

■ Critically analyse contemporary cultural phenomena considering diverse theoretical perspectives

■ Engage with contemporary sociological evidence on culture and cultural phenomena

■ Apply contemporary sociological evidence in the analysis of cultural phenomena.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.