Modern Sociological Theory

Second year module

Lecturer: Dr Will Legget

This module introduces the central ideas of key thinkers in the sociological tradition, as they sought to understand the development of modern industrial societies from the nineteenth century to the 1970s. 

The module opens with a detailed survey of the three 'founding' thinkers of modern sociology - Marx, Durkheim and Weber, as well as an introduction to those who introduced micro-sociological approaches to the study of everyday life (eg Simmel). Later, competing interpretations of the character of modern societies are then examined, ranging from the functionalist society of Talcott Parsons to the more pessimistic analysis of the Frankfurt School of critical theorists. The subsequent turning of modern sociological theory against itself, and the emergence of postmodernism, are the starting point for the Level H core module, Contemporary Social Theory.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module the student should be able to identify, compare and critically assess the theoretical approach, substantive analyses and implications of the work of key sociological theorists in this period.


  • Assessed jointly with 08 167801 
  • 1 x 3000 word essay - 50% each 
  • 1 x 3hr examination - 50%