Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Class & Stratification SOCIO4091

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

Chances are that before you came to study sociology one thing you had in mind was that sociologists study class and are concerned with inequality. This course sets out to discuss a) how this central concern has manifested itself in the discipline and b) why we should (or shouldn't) still be interested. In particular, it aims to give you an overview of the state of the 'sociology of class' today. To do this we will begin with foundational ideas of how we understand class (notably the Marxist and Weberian traditions) along with some of the classic studies in the field. We will then discuss some of the debates - historical and contemporary - for why class is said to be 'dead'. Finally, we will look at some of the contemporary studies of class in neoliberal times which, it has been argued, means sociology has 'rediscovered' class. Along the way we will see whether, for example, cultural class theorists influenced by Bourdieu make an advance on supposed deterministic and limited economic/occupational approaches. We will also discuss to what extent sociologists of class are seen to challenge, or reproduce, neoliberal ideas of individual worth in a meritocratic society. While many of our discussions will be conceptual concerning what 'class' is or may be, we will be discussing how these relate to empirical studies, both classical and contemporary.


Semester 2

Requirements of Entry

Mandatory Entry Requirements

In order to take this course you need to have met the requirements for entry into our Honours Programme. Basically, this means achieving a grade of 'D' or better in Sociology 1A and 1B and a 'C' or better in Sociology 2A and 2B. You also have to comply with the College of Social Science regulations for progression to Honours.

Excluded Courses





Two summative assessments:

One 3,000 word essay

One 1,500 report on the class trajectory of a public figure

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable


Course Aims

The general aims of the course follow from our subject area's aim of developing a sound knowledge and critical understanding of the academic discipline of Sociology. A more specific aim of this course is to ask the questions listed in the course description and to provide partial answers. The aim is then that you should feel confident enough to begin to answer some of these questions more fully within your assessment. This course also aims to develop your overall critical skills and appreciation for the ways in which sociological work can illuminate or obscure some of the ways in which societies are stratified.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Demonstrate an understanding of the key sociological conceptions of class and social stratification

■ Develop a knowledge of how these conceptions link together and evaluate their relative strengths and weaknesses

■ Evaluate how plausible ideas of the 'death' of class are to contemporary society

■ Critically assess the various ways in which scholars claims to be able to 'measure' class and/or inequality

■ Discuss how political movements have constructed and/or based their appeal upon a certain conception of class

■ Critically examine how ideas of class impact individuals' lived experience

■ Be able to defend the continued relevance of class OR be able to argue against its continued relevance

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.